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Nate Strauch

"I just wish that she had written that the first time around."

I just wish you had written today's response in place of yesterday's. The above was classic Gladwell; the post on the 28th was not. Thank you Malcolm, for restoring my faith in you.

Malcolm Gladwell

I wish I had too.

blake johnson

Amen Nate Strauch. Malcolm, I usually revere your work, however, yesterdays post was of the exact reactionary type you condemn in the blogoshpere. Jane Galt is a fantastic blogger and she took issue with the thesis of your piece as well as that of Bloom and Canning's paper. Your post today is a welcome return to the high quality we have all come to expect from you.

Austin Martin

I actually have enjoyed the impassioned posts. I think the additional awareness and consideration that this brings to the subject is positive.

"The estimates also indicate that the benefits of demographic change can be greatly magnified by a favourable policy environment."

This line from the abstract of the Celtic Tiger paper shows that the differences which Jane Galt argues are actually incorporated in the paper and as a result somewhat moot.

sean coon

welcome to the blogosphere, malcolm. everyone has an opinion and is more than willing to share it, informed or not.

kinda like real life. ;)

John Deckard

"...you ought to measure your own response."

I believe that is in direct opposition to having a Comments section. It is the Land of the Know-It-Alls. I think it's right next door to Where The Wild Things Are.


"Much of my writing involves taking academic research and trying to translate it for a more general audience."

And you do an incredibly great job of doing this, IMO.

Jim Jones

Malcolm, your post the other day definitely surprised me. I've never seen you so reactionary. At least I know that you're human and that you don't have to spend 3 days justifying your emotions to your subconscious before flying off the handle. ;-)

RunFatBoy - Exercise for the rest of us.

Jessica Stone

Ah, that's more like it. The dinner party is on.


Jane Galt is a figure of rather limited intellectual honesty.

The current kerfuffle is indicative of her general M.O. She normally plays fast and loose with the facts, and if called out, only then does she seem to make an honest attempt to grapple with the facts.

In short, while Galt isn't as bad as someone like Hugh Hewitt or Fred Barnes, she ain't fit for polite society either.


the "yes!" i felt reading the first post- in my heart- i knew was indulgant: triumph at the skillful devastating of another! But (as usual) that same exacting eye turned toward the phenomena of your own reaction.
We're all prone to anger- how you responded to your own outburst is what makes a great intellectual writer.

David Chang

Dear Malcolm, This comment does not relate to your blog but to your most recent New Yorker article, "No Mercy."

I thought you raised some thought-worthy points. However, to be fair, the "zero tolerance" policy evolved over time precisely because of problems with the kind of disciplinary regime your comment advocates. I read the following sentence from your comment as the central viewpoint you are advocating: "You let the principal or the teacher decide what to do about cheating because you know that every case of cheating is different—and, more to the point, that every cheater is different."

That would be a great system if each and every principal or teacher had both the insight and love of a higher power. In fact, you make a very interesting supposition when you ask the reader to assume "you cared about the student . . . and had some idea of his situation and his potential." But to me that is PRECISELY the problem. There is no way to ensure that principals or teachers DO care about their students and know about their situation/potential--at least, not for the right reasons. Who is to say that teachers will decide that "Jimmy" needs to be expelled, not for "his own good" but because Jimmy is of a race or ethnicity that the teachers happen to be prejudiced against? Who can ensure that a principal will decide that "Bobby" only needs a talking to for what he did, because he's a decent kid with a lot of potential, and not because he's the son of a wealthy, influential businessman in the community? Sadly, such abuses of power are not merely theoretical, but has happened many times, both in the past and present. In fact, I would even argue that your example of Robert Oppenheimer touches upon the human tendency to "value" and therefore want to treat differently certain kinds of status-individuals. And, of course, all of this doesn't even address the issue varying standards of leniency from one school board/principal/teacher/football conference to another.

You make a good point that zero-tolerance policies can be taken too far. But "discretionary justice" is ripe for abuse, unfairness, and mistreatment.


Here is the gist. Malcolm Gladwell, the journalist, is commenting on an economic paper by two reputable economists. Megan, an economist, is commenting on the same piece of paper.

Mr. Gladwell may find the research convincing, but he is a journalist, not an economist. Jane Galt does not find the research convincing, she however is an economist.

This is not about Canning and Bloom versus Jane Galt, as Mr. Gladwell previously stated. It is false. It is about Malcolm Gladwell comment on Canning and Bloom versue Jane Galt comment on Canning and Bloom. If Mr. Gladwell insists on using argument to authority; he is at severe disadvantage. Because by authority, Miss Galt is more qualify to judge the merit of Canning and Bloom research.


Argument from authority?

Jane Galt is not an economist. She has degrees in literature and economics, and works as an editor for The Economist.

Is she more qualified to judge the merits of Canning and Bloom?
By default, those with economic degrees (whether or not they work as an economist) always are more qualified to judge economic research? Ex-NFL players are more qualified to discuss football than sports writers and broadcasters?
Is Gladwell's and The New Yorker's audience economists?

*sigh* even economics and writing about economics are viewed and read through political lenses.


Oh, Malcolm! For a second I thought we had lost you--I was getting ready to start separating your M&Ms. But then I read all of the predeceasing and nay-saying blogs and became absolutely incensed on your behalf. I was readying myself to publicly quote your old friend Michael Specter "You seem to have forgotten one thing. HE DOESN'T WORK FOR YOU!"
However, I was delighted and relieved to "see" you here again today; your usual bright voice rising above the blog din. Thank you for today's thoughts. In it were all the reasons I love to read what you write.



That was not my argument; it was Malcolm Gladwell's argument. I simply point out that particular line or reasoning does not work with Jane Galt.

If he discard the argument that because Canning and Bloom are great economists; Jane Galt's argument is invalid, without even addressing the substance of her argument; her economic degree is irrelevant since the argument would be based on substance; not credential.


Nice to see we're all nice again.

I still think Gladwell.com would do well to adopt a commenting system that only allows comments from those who are invited, or approved upon request join in.

It might make a few people feel left out (very likely myself!), but I'd certainly feel fortunate to be spared some of the free-for-all style comments I've seen here now and again.

I'd like to see comments from Gladwell's peers, or at least from people of some similar substance and qualification to weigh in. (Again, I wouldn't be included in that group!). That would actually be helpful to me in understanding the post being commented on, rather than distracting me.

Obviously I'm reading because I've got something to learn, rather than something to contribute. So, thanks, folks, for the helpful comments.

Michele Berliner

My god, why are so many people here expecting this man to behave like he is Gandhi! Simply put, Galt was nasty about it and got a well deserved spanking (and it wasn't so hard that he left a welt!) You talk that way, that is what happens--otherwise obviously, it wouldn't happen! Why is it with some people (and their entourage of like minds) when they somewhat emotionally, as opposed to comprehensively, fire away at you are they then so SHOCKED when you fire back? Yes I know he's eloquent Malcolm--but NOT Gandhi, lighten up! Sounds a bit like expectations of a guru. If you're going to ungraciously spew (which I know can be fun at times), don't be babies and act surprised, take the spanking!

[Malcolm, I thought it was funny..and surprisingly fiesty! which was fun.]


Before this RESPECT thing got out of hand,I thought it was a very good form of peer control,if there's such a mechanism.You sure have the right to air your views regarding certain topic,and other people,by the same token,should too.I mean they could comment on the topic you touched upon,and they could also opine on what you've said about it.The back and forth,if carried out decently and in the manner conducive to intellectual discussion and debate,is very healthy and necessary.But things that went on here on this blog in the past few days pretty much preempt this ideal possibility.The peer control thing I previously think at work is mere,to put it mildy,devil's advocate,quite literally.They probably have no problem with prof Canning and Bloom,they barely know them and their work,and I don't think they are interested,as you argued in this post.They just felt CONSTRAINED to challenge you as a bestselling author,for no other good reason.What they are doing could only be attributed to one cause- what people call BREAK THE BRIGHTEST WINDOW mentality.They tossed stones at the brightest window to demonstrate their reckless valor and behavioral rebellion,which they stupidly though is cool.Well,the sad truth is,they are not.They are just a bunch of,well,devil's advocates,aimlessly roaming in the intellectual sphere,ready to pounce on the next convenient high-profile prey....

Mark McElroy


With time, you may find that responding to responses to your work:

a) adds little of value to the conversation, and

b) comes across as a tad obsessive and shrill.

Deep breaths, man. Deep breaths.

Ben Fulton

It depends on whether the response adds signal, or noise, to the conversation.

Many journalists take some time to understand that people can actually fire back on this amazing invention, and that the standard condescending dismissal fails as a device when used in a conversation instead of a soapbox. Mr. Gladwell isn't unusual in this regard.

Susan Jones

thats all.


"Simply put, Galt was nasty about it..."
- Michele Berliner

I just don't understand this line of thinking, regardless of your opinions on pensions, dependency ratios, or Ireland's economy. Some others may have crossed the line, including some who seem obsessed with discrediting everything that Mr. Gladwell produces (and at the same time being obsessed with, or jealous of, the money he makes). But I don't see where any of Jane Galt's posts or blogs did this.

It takes a tough skin to write in the 21st century. Those in the public eye have always been subjected to criticism, but never more so than today. 15 years ago, someone may have written a letter to the New Yorker disputing some of the articles claims. Today, anyone around the globe can add their $0.02 in a matter of seconds. This is a good thing, but there are drawbacks. Since most of us are NOT under the misroscope, it's easy to dismiss the negatives. But for those few who are judged in the public eye, Mr. Gladwell's uncharcteristic response (for him) was really a natural reaction. Hopefully everyone has learned something from this. Thanks for all of your work, Malcolm.


This is another take on the Irish miracle -- maybe in part a mirage?



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