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Allison

I hope the new book isn't gory or creepy. I love your previous books, but I might have to sit this one out.

Ponnarasi.K

Hello,
A very nice page from a very nice author. Do we get to know when the next book can be expected? :)

Curtis

Fascinating piece. I had wondered previously if the profiles served a purpose. The question that wasn't answered in your piece is do law enforcement agencies actively use the profiles in the investigations. The profiles are created and placed in the case files, no doubt. But do the detectives working the cases give them credence and do they influence the course of the investigation? I'm not sure how they would. Would you put out an APB on a profile description without any eye witness or physical evidence to back it up? It's the equivalent of fantasy crime solving. Let's see how close our prediction is? 40 year old white male, with a stutter and mommy issues. You owe me a coke.

James Kearney

Malcolm:
John Douglas was an FBI profiler during the same years that I was an FBI agent working criminal cases(1970-1995). Douglas is nothing more than a charlatan. Recently, I wrote him a letter calling him both a fraud and a quack. In one of his books he wrote, "After talking with John Ramsey for two hours, I told him that he was either a damn good liar or he was telling me the truth, and that I believed he was telling me the truth." Before writing the letter to Douglas, I spoke with him on the phone asking to meet with him so that I could prove to him that John Ramsey murdered his daughter. I wanted to prove to him that he was wrong. He immediately refused! I have recently finished writing a book entitled, "The Anatomy of the JonBenet Ramsey Murder - Case Solved" that I hope to get published soon. I would like to meet with you at some time soon so that you might see in-depth how counter productive Douglas can really be. Thanks

Doug

I saw this and thought of you :-

Link to article titled "New Dinosaur Species Discovered".

Quote : "It leapt out at me as being different," said Mr Taylor, who is studying sauropod vertebrae as part of his PhD at the University of Portsmouth. "I've spent the last five years doing nothing but looking at sauropod vertebrae so I immediately realised it was something strange. It was unmistakably a dorsal vertebra from a sauropod, but it didn't look like any dorsal I'd ever seen before."

http://tech.uk.msn.com/news/article.aspx?cp-documentid=6695773

Sirin Ediger

Dear Mr. gladwell.I need t contact you. How could this be possible? Thanks

Bhaskar Mahendrakar

I really enjoyed reading Tipping point and Blink. I look forward for the new book

Carol

I found it interesting that you assume (as I read in your recent NYer article) that astrologers are charlatans. In my experience, the only people who discount astrology are those who have had no direct experience with it and think, therefore, that because no one knows how it works that it can't work. I'm not talking about daily newpaper predictions, which are, of course, b.s. because they are based only on sun signs. You might, however, be very surprised if you had your chart (based on date, exact time, and place of birth) read by a qualified astrologer. Or even better--because then you know it is impartial--get a computerized interpretation from a reputable site such as Astro.com for you AND someone else you know well and see what they tell you, and how accurate they are. I do not use it for predictive purposes as much as a tool for self-knowledge and personal growth--as Jung used it in his practice. Astrology was known to all of the ancient civilizations and remains a source of serious study--yet because of prejudices such as you express, those of us who have public faces or academic positions to uphold must keep our interest under wraps.

Dane

Malcolm,say something!If nothing concrete,maybe something of greeting nature,just to let us know you're actually reading the COMMENTS SECTION.

It's your BLog,for god's sake!It's not like you hands over a piece and then leaves,just like with New Yorker.You MUST interact,you have to COMMUNIATE,you ought to RESPOND and ANSWER,if not SPOIL.

Or I GUESS you're putting finishing touches to your latest book? But I still insist you say something,for instance,answer my question as to what kind of book it is,and what's it about....

best of luck and peace.

Dane Cao in China

Christopher Horn

Here's a question for you, Malcolm:

In doing research for this story, did you ever encounter a profiler, or an instance of profiling, that played against stereotype?

My thought: if profilers are to be lumped in as two-bit charlatans indistinguishable from your average psychic or seer, than they are likely culpable in perpetrating the same manipulation of all psychics: telling you what you want to hear in a 'supposedly' neutral fashion.

Several posts ago I brought up Dahmer, advancing the point that Dahmer took responsibility for his actions (not your typical psycho) and that he was grateful not to be indulging his murderous impulses (not your typical psycho).

Would any profiler ever say about Dahmer,

"It may seem like this guy is a hopelessly depraved psycho, but in fact I think he's the type to take responsibility for his actions, and he is also one to seek relief from the mental burden of his killing spree".

Malcolm pointed out in the article that no one guessed that BTK would be an upstanding family man who was a leader in his church.

Probably for the same reason that no psychic ever tells you that your life is going to fall to pieces and everything from this day forward will be a disaster.

So a question, Malcolm:

Has any profiler ever started a sentence about their job in the following manner:

"Your instinct may tell you that such-and-such a murderer would act this way, but in my expert opinion, I predict he would be this other way...."?

Carol

Again, I wonder, are Christopher Horn's remarks (above) about the methods of psychics based on actual experience? Or is he simply saying as fact something that he only assumes must be true? Again, I find it interesting that people who consider themselves intellectually and/or scientifically astute, feel confident making sweeping statements about things they've had absolutely no experience with --based on the assumption that such things "can't work" because they don't fit into our belief system. I remember when similar glib assumptions about acupuncture were the order of the day.

Robert Machuta

I don't think anybody did the finacial analysis of your father's geothermal system correctly. I make a few assumptions, 30 year life for system, 30% marginal tax rate, 2% annual inflation and constant energy prices.

In thirty years the system produces $60,000 of energy, tax free, but needs complete replacement at that point. The net return is $35,000.

The bond pays $37,500 interest of which is taxes consume $11,250. The bond principal is still $25,000 from which inflation steals $11,363. The net return is $39,887.

The fact that in purely financial terms, a 5% bond does better than an illiquid equity investment means that geo-exchange is still a boutique item. Most equity investors would sell their souls twice for 5% money!

The fact that well educated people usually go seriously astray when thinkng about money should be the subject of your next book.

bob rosner

Today's New York Times had a terrific and deeply moving article about a young man's who was vindicated by DNA evidence. As I read how he was originally seen as a suspect, I couldn't help but think of your recent article. "The police retrieved hair and semen samples, which did not match Mr. Deskovic’s DNA; prosecutors argued that they were from earlier consensual sex. Mr. Deskovic, however, fit the description provided by a criminal profiler for the police, and raised investigators’ suspicions when he cried copiously at Ms. Correa’s funeral, though they were not close friends. (In a recent interview, Mr. Deskovic explained that he was always picked on in school and Angela was one of few students who were nice to him, once helping him with algebra.)"

Stephen Landau

Hey Malcolm,

I just finished reading your article on profiling. I found it very interesting and quit current with the issues of "security" and in this time of terror buzz. My first thought was about the correlation between the tactics used for "safety" and the impudent system of profiling. I seems that a system like this can create more problem then good and should be evaluated and replaced or improved.

I look forward to the new book. I have enjoyed the others.

Brian Siegel

Enjoy your work thoroughly! Hope you make it back to Cincinnati, OH soon and I get to connect with ya! After reading your blog on "Serial Killers" and your next book, I had some thoughts.
To catch a killer, it appears one must think like a killer. To think like a killer, one must enter the skin, shoes, and instincts of that mentality. The why, room, how a clock is facing, the organization of the room, smells, colors, if it was personal, how connected or disconnected they were, left any clues (on purpose or not), time of day, background, every little detail, to the obvious that one may overlook due to heightened due diligence that may allow to pass over. Certain intuition may allow for one to intelligently dissect a scene to define a killer, motive, actions, and other clues, but for someone to have borderline "psychic" abilities, wouldn't they have to enact their thoughts as if they were to become a killer or that person themselves? That's like entering a super bowl, pumped up, and run the acrobatics of such a game, take a break, wind up again, and become so exhausted themselves, that they soon integrate that thinking into their capacity. If this is utilized, how does one maintain separation from becoming the hate they hate, and chase? That in itself seems intriguing, challenging, and mysterious! To have "like instincts" and "animal integration" can be exhausting. I wonder how many criminal profilers and others become what they study either knowingly or unknowingly? We are what we eat, think, and act upon aren't we?! Rational allows us to separate these worlds, but in deep reflection, do we become what we read, see, think, do, etc.?

As far as the killers, do you think it is they can't kill something inside their lives and mind that hey kill others as a release? They brand themselves through acronyms as if they're a company (ex. BTK, Blind, Torture, Kill), and make themselves more than where they are to where they want to be with these eccentric and immoral decisions. The channels of pressure are opened and stretch these victims of life to be victimizers. Do they not see we are all subjected to some sort of process where we are faced with inner turmoil, unless we're a rare animal or soul?! They respond to life's woes through integrating an "improper backhand to a 140mph serve" they weren't ready for. They unleash a tangent response to frustration. These actions, unethical in motion, yet strangely intelligent with a backdrop of intriguing celebrity. If only they could harness their passionate energy for the powers of good rather than human appetite for creative revenge. Sometimes their actions are utilized to transition their talents from evil to good, such as the character in the movie, "Catch Me If You Can", where the criminal is objectified as a hero while on the chase, then also when he is offered a job to use his skills at forgery to relay the techniques to the CIA for capturing criminals and learning their behavior.

They capture our imagination, intriguing in their mystery as to why they performed a crime, and the worst of crimes such as rape or murder. We don't admire them, I hope, but we remain clueless as to why they react tangent to our systems of law. We can trace it back to love gone bad, obsessions, strange appetites, society, financial, environment, television, diet, psychological, parental issues, sexual abuse, or just the fact that they are a social deviant that enjoys the thrill of control over their victim. Are they victims themselves? Are we all not accountable for our actions? It's intriguing until you are part of the equation. If someone you love is harmed due to the actions of these monsters, they're subjects of study. Proactive examination into the mind and reason for their actions are key to prevention. If you were someone performing a study going across the country interviewing killers on death row, what would you expect to find out, and how would you approach and feel around this person? If you had a loved on be a victim of such a person's actions, how would you approach them? To be a taker of life is a power that no human should possess, yet it roams around our world lurking in homes and lives throughout all our lands and time. To stop someone's breath is the most powerful and controlling crime. It's a crime against nature, humanity, and the killers own soul. They still do it while aware of the consequences. Why? Is it a pattern between personality, upbringing, environment, situations, character, action, "organized (planned) or disorganized (random instinct)"… Does the killer know the person, instigating a situational occurrence due to circumstances and relationship, or do they maul the memory by suffocating words and thoughts that may allow them deeper knowing of their victim? Is there a difference between the organized and aware killer versus the disorganized killer who is more reactionary and random? They both seek control, the organized and more "prestigious" and "together" murderer is seeking a more robust/deep resolution, while the withdrawn/disheveled disorganized murderer is seeking the same outcome, yet with less theatrics.

How true to findings are these classifications? Human beings are the most complicated creatures, interacting with other complicated beings, creating case studies that would entail a matrix and myriad of different "bulleted pods" that could integrate into a better system of analyzing possible criminals/suspects. You could narrow it down by demographics and topography such as distance from scene (what if the killer was from another state or country?), the scene had many item that were disheveled (so that means they're disorganized, what if it was a upper class person who was just sloppy)… these systems of analysis according to Malcolm Gladwell were correct 2.7% of the time! That is extremely bad! A better way to integrate this data, question subjects, and track the trail of a killer needs to be improved. How can we do this? Proactive improvements in education, awareness, coaching, leadership, families, and neighborhoods need to be addressed. I am not saying that if we put a park in a neighborhood it will become better. But, if we as a society get inside the homes more without being intrusive, develop meaningful relationships, and get parents more involved with their children and situations, then possibly we have a chance of improving the murder rate in our world. Murder, the way we analyze, and perceive needs to be improved.

As society changes, does murder? The information we discover from the FBI questions are useful, but how efficient and meaningful? Is it a way to paint a portrait correctly? What clues are being over analyzed and which ones are being look over? It's not a pass fail as you say, but an ever changing, adapting, growing pop up book. If someone wears a mask are they hiding their identity and strangling their victim, are they releasing angst from their past and childhood memories through these acts, or merely acting upon evil desire? What words are being used to describe the situation? Simple things like this also affect outcome. Are they diverted questioning, or real insight? We see the psychic tricks on television, where we also see countless CSI and other murder focus shows, on how to ask leading questions, to get the other person to talk, painting the portrait for you, and in their minds you're a fortune teller. Nostradamus had 1000's of predictions, but due to a few coming to fruition, yet so far from the literal description, humans want to believe in knowing the future so badly, that they coerce it to reality. Is that occurring in these questionings as well? These quotes summarize it all from you "Look for an American male with a possible connection to the military. His I.Q. will be above 105. He will like to masturbate, and will be aloof and selfish in bed. He will drive a decent car. He will be a "now" person. He won't be comfortable with women. But he may have women friends. He will be a lone wolf. But he will be able to function in social settings. He won't be unmemorable. But he will be unknowable. He will be either never married, divorced, or married, and if he was or is married his wife will be younger or older. He may or may not live in a rental, and might be lower class, upper lower class, lower middle class or middle class. And he will be crazy like a fox, as opposed to being mental.". So, he's a male that likes to please himself in bed, is lower/middle/higher class…mmm, once they catch him, they can now tailor their description more. People have more fingerprints than a disorganized scene. The portrait is more discrete than one of the famous paintings that are one color and passed off as "genius". Thank goodness for enhancements in DNA and other ways to find more "fingerprints" invisible to our eyes and perceptions, yet those are manipulated and led by humans, so leave the room for error open. We have to refresh our perception and approach to be new in these types of situations, and not guide ourselves in the wrong direction since we have preconceived notions. I am interested to discover what questions were asked of the serial killers during investigation, techniques, and also instead of the law chasing the killers, how they can entice the killers to venture to the law. Connecting ideas, questions, and techniques from a top, down, and sideways approach is necessary due to the subjects minds working in this erratic manner. Bringing calm to this chaos is an art that we need to master. You mentioned they use Dr.'s, lawyers, scientists, and even psychologists, but the true innovation is in utilizing the behaviors of the people in prison for these crimes, peeling away the onion layers, and making them a resource to improve our systems and programs.


I am curious to read your next book, the examples, stats, and characters to learn what causes humans to be the most animalist animals. Like Blink and Tipping Point, these concepts and perspectives related to business, community, and many other realms of life.

Thank you for your intriguing subjects, forward thinking and mind muscle growing,
Brian Siegel

SF Greg

John Douglas' books have examples of catching crooks by clever detective work.

Supposedly he uses psychology, but the facts he presents show something else, like seeing a victim tied with wire and speculating the killer is an electrician. There are not many examples of using psychology to catch a criminal.

If a victim is tied with two types of rope, the killer must have purchased it somewhere. What kind of person buys from a home improvement store often and keeps accumulating things, so later he has two types of rope available when he commits a crime? Possibly someone in the home improvement business. It's not psychology, at least not as he actually describes it.

Kragen Javier Sitaker

Good to hear you have a new book in the works --- I´d kind of suspected that. Nice job on the profiling article.

chantel

Very good article; its amazing how engrossing one can become in the descriptions and not even notice that the profiler is giving conflicting statements. Of course, on TV they never have to worry because they always catch the guy.

Ingrid from Kitchener

Welcome back Malcolm!

When I worked in a news bureau for a prominent Cdn TV network, there was one person who came in each morning and in a loud voice in front of all of her co-workers would say "I'll bet you that today they will want a story on..." and then proceed to make 5 - 15 predictions - not psychic -but just based on what was in the morning newspapers or was "hot" on the news the night before.

When the desk would call with their assignment, she would say - loudly - "See - See - what did I say? Didn't I tell you..." She managed to fool a few non-thinking journos that she was "all seeing and all knowing" and was magically "plugged into" exactly what the assignment desk was thinking."

After many years of ignoring this person, what I did learn is that s/he who TALKS THE LOUDEST (talks the most)and who keeps reminding people of her one (no-brainer) prediction out of the 10 - 15 is not a genius of any journalistic kind - just a genius in her own self promotion.

I found it hard to believe that none of my co-workers ever really "figured it out" or told her that the more darts you throw, the odds dramatically increase the possibility that one will eventually hit the target - or - that her failure rate was much higher than her actual prediction rate.

In a nutshell - it's all how you Spin it. I guess this happens in many other professions as well.

Ingrid
Looking forward to your new book.

KimG

Looking forward to your new book!

John

Yay! I'm very glad you're back.

mIRCELit Chat

thank you

Bobbsey

YAY MALCOLM IS BACK.

medical videos research news

good effort

Ian Bentley

Malcolm
To my eternal regret I was a relative latecommer to your thoughts and writing. The Tipping Point has, without a doubt, been one of the most extraordinary revelations of my life (and the maven in me has religiously been passing the word on to everyone I connect to!). Anyway, I have an idea that is based on, and applies the theories that you expound in the book. I think the concept has explosive potential. I would appreciate the opportunity to exchange some thoughts on the matter and possibly thereafter put a proposal to you on the matter (but of necessity it would need to be in a slightly less 'public' arena than your blog!). Please feel free to contact me on mwibent@mweb.co.za
Warm regards
Ian Bentley
__________________________________
Safrika Development Services CC
Action House, 5 Epsom Road, Stirling, East London, 5241, South Africa.
PO Box 19125, Tecoma, 5214, South Africa
Tel: +27(0)43 735 0855 Fax: +27(0)43 735 2865 Cell: +27(0)82 6023453 Home: 27(43) 748 3584

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  • I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of four books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference", "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and "Outliers: The Story of Success." My latest book, "What the Dog Saw" is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City.

    My great claim to fame is that I'm from the town where they invented the BlackBerry. My family also believes (with some justification) that we are distantly related to Colin Powell. I invite you to look closely at the photograph above and draw your own conclusions.

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