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Steve Sailer

Thanks.

Are you going to have it changed on the website?

Is the print issue going to be recalled and pulped? Or will you publish a correction in a later issue?

Malcolm Gladwell

Welcome back Steve. I've missed your thoughtful and calming voice.

Steve Sailer

I just helped save you from losing a libel suit.

Your welcome,
Steve

Steve Sailer

Dear Malcolm:

This humiliation just illustrates the validity of the advice I've long offered you, which is that you should work harder at writing and spend less time giving speeches. You have a wonderful sense of curiosity, and you have a talent for putting ideas in persuasive-sounding prose, but you don't have a natural knack for telling truth from falsehood. You need to force yourself to check up more rigorously on your own cool-sounding ideas.

Or get somebody else to reality check your articles for you before they are published. My impression from reading Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City" was that The New Yorker employed a staff of fact checkers. Did they get fired in a budget cut? If not, how did they let such an obvious non-fact get through?

The point is that you need to understand your own strengths and weaknesses, and take steps to lessen the harm caused by your shortcomings.

Eyal Ben David

Is it me, steve, or is it your lifelong dream to get a reply, any reply, from gladwell?

Steve Sailer

It's not exactly a secret that Malcolm sees himself in some kind of rivalry with me (as ridiculous as that sounds when you compare the size of our respective readerships and incomes). My work has several times inspired Malcolm to respond with some of his more self-destructive effusions.

For example, there was the hilarious debate on this website that went on at inordinate length during 2006 about whether Judge Richard A. Posner and myself had unfairly badmouthed the sterling moral character of car salesmen. Malcolm posted a 1000 word response to our reviews of "Blink," highlighted by this classic Gladwellism: "Sailer and Poser [sic] have a very low opinion of car salesmen."

http://www.gladwell.com/blink/biblio/chapter3.html

Eventually, Malcolm announced he wanted to ban me from commenting on his blog but put that up to a vote of his commenters, which he lost in a landslide.

Sailer Salieri

This feud is entirely created by Sailer's imagination. Gladwell may have taken issue with points raised by Sailer and Judge Posner (notice how Steve is always eager to remind us that Posner has his back) but Malcolm Gladwell is CLEARLY not obsessed with Steve Sailer--rather, it's Steve Sailer who is entirely obsessed with Mr. Gladwell.

So it's quite funny to read Sailer say "It's not exactly a secret that Malcolm sees himself in some kind of rivalry with me." Mr. Sailer, it is you WHO CONTINUOUSLY WRITES ABOUT MALCOLM GLADWELL ON YOUR BLOG. Obviously it's you who want to provoke and sustain a feud with Gladwell--for whatever reasons.

In short, Steve, you seem to be aware of Gladwell more than he is aware of you. Give it up.

Steve Sailer

Of course I write about Malcolm Gladwell. He is likely the most influential human sciences journalist in the country. When he writes something untrue, it flies around the world and millions of people end up believing it.

The weird thing is why Malcolm writes so many thousands of words trying to prove obscure old me wrong. For example, here are four of his anti-Sailer posts on this blog from last December:

http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/12/the_lunatic_fri.html

http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/12/imagine_my_surp.html

http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/12/more_thoughts_o.html

http://gladwell.typepad.com/gladwellcom/2006/12/bad_stereotypin.html

The explanation is, I would guess, that we have similar interests and roughly similar talents. Clearly, Malcolm strikes most people as much more likable than me, while my one clear advantage is that I'm better at doing reality checks, so I stick my foot in my mouth less than he does.

The other reason for Malcolm's self-destructive interest in my work is that he deep down fears that my advice is right: that he really should work harder on his articles even if he has to do fewer corporate speeches.

Sailer Salieri

Steve, those blog entries are all from the same dispute over the racist-or-not salesmen. It's a no-win situation for Gladwell--if he didn't respond, you would have taken him to task for not responding to your side of the argument. But since he did respond and acknowledge you, now you're taking to task for doing just that. He responded to me! OMG he must see me as a rival!

And as far as I'm aware, that was the only time that Gladwell has engaged you. Yet here you are on his blog and you write "It's not exactly a secret that Malcolm sees himself in some kind of rivalry with me". Who is spreading falsehoods? It's apparent to everyone else that you're the one who sees Gladwell as a rival rather than the other way around. In fact, you have repeatedly complained about the fact that he gets paid well for doing speeches. Talk about lack of class, Steve.

Look, it's good that we have reality checkers like you. But can you be a little less angry and a little less...hateful?

Dennis Mangan

Gladwell characterized Herrnstein and Murray as more or less Nazis, advocating neo-concentration camps, when the reality of what they said is the opposite. So who's hateful?

James L.M.

Mr. Gladwell, could you tell us how this error occured? Have you read the Bell Curve? Did someone other than you insert that part of the article?

rone

Ah, it's the return of the eternal college freshman, Steve Sailer. Steve, what exactly thinks you're qualified to give Malcolm advice? You're such a hoot. You're practically a supervillain (and a really crappy one at that) with your sententious perorations that are so obviously designed to puff up your own "obscurity" (or perhaps that should be "puff down", what with your specious modesty), and all of it comes at the expense of Malcolm's TypePad and his readers.

Hey, people: Malcolm admitted that he made a mistake. LET'S MOVE ON. THANK YOU.

Inductivist

Gladwell also caricatures J. Philippe Rushton, saying he is "a psychologist who specializes in comparing the circumference of what he calls the Negroid brain with the length of the Negroid penis." If Malcolm were fair, his description would have gone something like this: "In 1973, Rushton received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics for work on altruism in children. As if one PhD were not enough, he received a D.Sc. in psychology from the University of London in 1992. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American, British, and Canadian Psychological Associations. In 1988, he was made a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation."

Inductivist

"Ah, it's the return of the eternal college freshman, Steve Sailer. Steve, what exactly thinks you're qualified to give Malcolm advice? You're such a hoot."

"Time" named Gladwell one of its 100 Most Influentual People. Since when did it become a joke to speak truth to power? Oh, I see--it doesn't count when power is liberal.

Steve Sailer

Malcolm:

The libelous-sounding section is _still_ in the article on-line.

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2007/12/17/071217crbo_books_gladwell

Those who don't read all the way to the bottom and get to the editor's apology / retraction will assume that the smear you made up about "The Bell Curve's" authors is factual. You really _must_ insist that the editors excise that part of the article.

Steve

Steve Sailer

For the record, here's The New Yorker's much more gracious retraction and apology:

"CORRECTION: In his December 17th piece, “None of the Above,” Malcolm Gladwell states that Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, in their 1994 book “The Bell Curve,” proposed that Americans with low I.Q.s be “sequestered in a ‘high-tech’ version of an Indian reservation.” In fact, Herrnstein and Murray deplored the prospect of such “custodialism” and recommended that steps be taken to avert it. We regret the error."

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2007/12/17/071217crbo_books_gladwell#editorsnote

Dennis

You write:
"...did not advocate a "high-tech Indian reservation" for low-IQ groups. Rather, they warned that if current welfare policies continued, we would end up having to build high-tech reservations for those with low IQs--which is a very different argument, obviously (although not, if you think about it, any less ridiculous)."

This is not just an unprofessional and back-handed sort of correction, but a logical and ethical dodge. Your error had the effect of asserting that these men advocated creating concentration camps for the less intelligent.
Meaning is the issue, and your mistake had the effect of reversing theirs entirely, from warning against an undesirable outcome to advocating it. "Ridiculous" has nothing to do with it.
Better just to man up and move on.

eh

Gladwell appears to be the perfect "human sciences journalist" for the MTV generation.

Mike

A quick request:
Could all of the anti-Malcolm commenters move over to their own anti-Malcolm blog, so that those of us who just want to read and discuss Malcolm's articles can do so in peace?

Thanks!
xoxo

Byrne

I'm surprised that Gladwell's summary of Rushton focuses on the penis-bit. Looking at the actual text of Race, Evolution, and Human Behavior (http://www.charlesdarwinresearch.org/Race_Evolution_Behavior.pdf), I find that 'penis' is used five times on four pages, out of fifty dense pages of data.

That's as charitable as summarizing Gladwell's career as 1) his argument with Posner, and 2) his race article, which showed up a few months after James Watson made his statements. One could say that "Malcolm Gladwell writes for the popular New Yorker magazine. His major subjects of interest are claiming to have a better handle on rational human behavior that the brilliant legal and economic thinker Richard Posner, and knowing more about genetics than the Nobel Prize-Winning co-discoverer of DNA, James Watson. His current projects include waiting for the Second Coming, when he expects to correct Jesus on some minor points of prophecy-interpretation, as well as a few errata about ancient Judean geography."

Byrne

Whoops! Messed up the URL. The link should go to:

http://www.charlesdarwinresearch.org/Race_Evolution_Behavior.pdf

tired of all this &*#$%#

Byrne, Posner and Watson, those brilliant minds, can still be dead wrong about the whole Race and IQ thing and whaterver it was that Gladwell disagreed with Posner on. It is not the brilliance of the source that is important-- there are plenty of brilliant people out there, with plenty of qualifications, that take Gladwell's side (for instance, all of the people over the years that Gladwell, as a *journalist*, has talked to and quoted about race related issues). What is the important is the argument and the quality of the argument. And after reading some of them, for me at least, in the lingo of those irascible youths, Gladwell and company has you and your cohorts pwn'd.

Byrne

Indeed!

It's almost as if what I said was meant to illustrate this problem with Gladwell's argument, not to advance it as evidence of my own! You'll notice I was critiquing Malcolm's dismissal of alternative views -- he doesn't say "Rushton is wrong!" he just sneers that "Rushton is nuts!" If what Gladwell said is literally all he got from giving Rushton a fair hearing, he's an awful journalist; if it isn't, he's merely dishonest.

tired of all this &*#$%#

Gladwell is sneering that Rushton is nuts *while* he is sneering that Rushton is wrong.

Let's face it, all parties involved care a lot about this subject, and although regrettable, it means that all parties involved are very likely to say snitty little things about each other. There is even a reasonable argument to say that those snittly little things matter, though it is a tiresome, tricky little bit that has more to do with filtering the deluge of available arguments than anythng else.

And reading Rushton, as well as critiques of Ruhston, I would say that overall I do not find Rushton's arguments convincing. He has a pretty bad habit of overgeneralizing (stating that Africans evolved in a tropical environment, when there is a fair bit of variation in climate from the the Table area in South Africa to the Lower Nile). Further, he does not take his argument further and subdivide deeper-- he implicitly assumes equal cranial capacity accross races when there is signficant deviation within subgroups of his three races, with from what I read other commentators argue no concurrent difference in measured IQ.


tired of all this &*#$%#

Gladwell is sneering that Rushton is nuts *while* he is sneering that Rushton is wrong.

Let's face it, all parties involved care a lot about this subject, and although regrettable, it means that all parties involved are very likely to say snitty little things about each other. There is even a reasonable argument to say that those snittly little things matter, though it is a tiresome, tricky little bit that has more to do with filtering the deluge of available arguments than anythng else.

And reading Rushton, as well as critiques of Ruhston, I would say that overall I do not find Rushton's arguments convincing. He has a pretty bad habit of overgeneralizing (stating that Africans evolved in a tropical environment, when there is a fair bit of variation in climate from the the Table area in South Africa to the Lower Nile). Further, he does not take his argument further and subdivide deeper-- he implicitly assumes equal cranial capacity accross races when there is signficant deviation within subgroups of his three races, with from what I read other commentators argue no concurrent difference in measured IQ.


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