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I read Blink and loved it, so I look forward to reading your new articles and books.

I always get the same feeling when I read your stuff, I agree but I get the impression you tend to over think and over explain situations.

America is a society that more than most tends to classify people based on a single characteristic and ignore other characteristics.

People seem to have trouble seeing people as complex beings with many different characteristics and behaviors.

Thus a man might molest children, but put out food for a puppy that has been abandoned.

A woman might be wonderful to all she meets unless they are Asians.

To the Asians she meets she is a racist, to everyone else she is a wonderful person. The idea that she could be both throws people for a loop.

So I am a little cautious about reading your book as I tend to think labels like "underdog' or "Goliath" like many others most likely don't fit everyone.

So you can have an underdog that follows all the rules and a Goliath that is a maverick and vice versa.

That status alone is unlikely to tell you much about how the person will function once they get on the job. It depends on many other factors as well, including gender, race, class and so on.

Will give what you have written a shot as it is always interesting in a complex manner ;)

David H. Roane

I really appreciate the article, "How David Beats Goliath: When Underdogs Break the Rules." But what happens when breaking the "rules" is tantamount to being anything but sportsmanlike? While the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play may appear ironic in war and degraded in modern sports, might they still be worthy ideals especially for a group of twelve-year-old athletes? To me, the rules governing character and integrity are just as important to master as any rules that govern the execution of a game. I would love for people to discuss where they believe the lines are drawn.

David H. Roane

I really appreciate the article, "How David Beats Goliath: When Underdogs Break the Rules." But what happens when breaking the "rules" is tantamount to being anything but sportsmanlike? While the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play may appear ironic in war and degraded in modern sports, might they still be worthy ideals especially for a group of twelve-year-old athletes? To me, the rules governing character and integrity are just as important to master as any rules that govern the execution of a game. I would love for people to discuss where they believe the lines are drawn.

Hate Flowers

Mr. Gladwell,

If you've ever wondered about the predictive abilities of basketball metric systems like Wages of Wins vs the expectations of Las Vegas, here's a post that compares WoW's 2008-09 NBA season predictions vs the marks set by Vegas before the season. http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2009/7/7/941494/the-wages-of-wins-vs-las-vegas

David Bishop

Have been reading Outliers and really enjoyed it. Will no doubt refer to it again and again. Are you aware that state schools in England predict student achievement by their birthday. This is done through an organisation called the Fishcer Family Trust. Many thanks for a great read, best wishes David

Onuoha Eze

I stumbbled into your book Outliers. It is really a great piece. I am your great great great grandmother's kingman (Igbo man) in Nigeria. Wonderful book but when will the west appologise for the their wicked act of slave trade?

T. C. Hardwick

I just finished your latest New Yorker article on "To Kill a Mockingbird," which as usual was insightful and interesting. As long as you are examining such books and considering meta-realities, you might consider "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and see where that takes you...

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Malcolm,, I'm a 46 year old woman and a doctoral student in Nashville, TN. I really enjoyed Outliers, but I especially enjoyed the chapter entitled, Harlan Kentucky. I grew up there and still have many roots growing deeper by the day there:) I think you captured some important elements in the chapter, but there is one HUGE element you missed about the culture of honor. The Michigan study included something southern men consider more of an insult than anything that could ever be directed at them personally. The researchers used THE GIRLFRIEND BEING HIT ON by another guy as the stimulous for their reactions. You didn't mention the fact that for southern men THEIR WOMEN being insulted is a much bigger crime than being insulted themselves. And....having spent time all around the US, I have observed that this respect for women results in a treatment of women in the south that is MUCH better than the treatment of women in the northern cultures. Just needed to put in my two cents to help better explain the scenario. It's a shame the Michigan researchers didn't go one step farther and measure both reaction to personal insult, and a reaction to insult of the wife or girlfriend.


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I actually think Rick Pitino is a pretty good coach, his off the court issues notwithstanding. On the other hand, Bobby Knight only pressed when he had to. He didn’t want to chew up his own team in the process. The motion offense on his really good teams was a 35 minute campaign designed to wear down the opponent physically and mentally, get them in foul trouble, build a lead and put Indiana at the free throw line for the final 5 minutes. And Knight never seemed to care how much mayhem the other side caused his team in the first half. He almost never called time out because of that. They had to weather the storm because time outs are a finite resource, and Knight always had a pocketful of them at the end of a game. So I think if you took Pitino’s best pressing team against Knight’s best motion offense (which by the way would also be playing maniacal half court man to man defense) Knight would find a way to win. With all due respect to John Wooden, who was a great coach and an even better man, you can’t really use his great UCLA pressing teams in the argument since they usually had the best 5 players in the country on the same team (and sometimes the second 5 best on the bench). You are right Malcolm. It’s so much fun to argue about something so inconsequential.

James Sullivan

I would have taken the lesson from this story to be: Find some point where our strong points come closest or exceed the opponents weak point, and attack there. Suprise is always a benefit, but I'm would think that this becomes less of a factor as the experience level increases.

To say that the girls had no basketball skills is wrong. They must have had good defensive skills to be able to apply the press properly. You can pressure the ball for the full lenght of the court, but the problem is that if you don't do it correctly, it leads to easy baskets for the other team. In other words, it is harder to defend the full court vs. a smaller area.

Elizabeth Burman

Please please PLEASE update your New Yorker archive!!! I NEED to be able to share some of your recent articles with my friends!! (I promise: we'll buy more books, after.)


There's no blog entry about your latest New Yorker article, "Atticus Finch and Southern Liberalism". I'm not sure I get it, especially the last paragraph. It's incorrect to say they're adopting different standards for respectable whites vs. poor white trash, they're adopting a different standard for the man who saved his children's lives, versus the man who tried to kill his children, with the emphasis on trying not to burden the man who saved their lives.

I just don't understand the last paragraph, and how it relates to the rest of the fantastic piece.

Jon Faria

I really enjoyed the article. I'm not much of a basketball fan, but you've exposed a a truth that I've run into in another hobby: Texas hold'em poker. The "Kill Phil" strategy that was much written about a few years ago (http://www.amazon.com/Kill-Phil-Success-No-Limit-Tournaments/dp/0929712242) is very similar to the tactics you describe in the article. It recognizes that the great poker players will often have a decisive advantage at the table, and the average player will simply be outmatched if they play the game conventionally. What the strategy does is exactly what you describe with the full court press - attacks the player at the point when the weak and strong player is equally vulnerable: the flop.

The strategy has the weak player go all in on the flop if they figure the odds are 50/50 that they have the best hand, and fold otherwise. It is based on the notion that if you play out the hand conventionally, the master players will be able to best you with masterful raises and calls. But if you force them to match an all-in on the flop when the odds are 50/50, that advantage is gone. You've forced them to a simple coin-toss showdown. As with the press, you may lose, but your odds are better against a masterful player than if you took them on playing out the hand in the traditional fashion. As with your other books, I think you've exposed a deeper truth that is applicable to many disciplines, which is why the article is so neat.


I totally agree with your findings. I have always agreed with that people didn't become successful on their own. Someone had to give them an opportunity, someone had to believe in them. I couldn't agreed more with your findings about birth date, place and family. I love how you related these finding in way that everyone could relate to. Your a brillant writer!!!


I just came across a very interesting article in The New York Times Magazine section entitled "Is Happiness Catching?" I couldn't help thinking how Gladwellian this piece is.

The article relates what we've already known for years that who we are is who we associate with, that our behaviors are contagious.

Read it, you'll like it.


Mark Peach

Have just bought Tipping Point and Blink after enjoying Outliers immensely. Have just started reading the former and my my human incapacities are getting in the way of understanding the geometric progression antidote on page 11. Can someone explain to me how a folded piece of paper stacked in a pile reaches the sun? Sorry, but the concept is just getting in the way of me moving ahead with the book.

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R. Noone

Dear Mr. Gladwell,

Went to the library(sorry) Saturday morning, finished the book Sunday afternoon. Couldn't put it down, I loved it. Your style of writing, your voice just draws you in and you must just keep on, keeping on. The information presented was mind blowing....hockey teams, birth dates, culture, work ethics, math, and even luck! YOU really do think out of the box, an outlier? Most info was not new but seen with different glasses. My grammar school daughter was once given an assignment to take a photo of a tree. Instead of taking it as most people would, she laid down on the ground and took it looking up into the tree... a very different angle, just as you do n your writing. It is refreshing and liberating to see that intelligence alone does not equal success as I always knew. Can't bet street smarts, people smarts, etc. Thank you for your background story as well. Now I want to read your mother's book!

Jim Flowers

Chess is complicated. My college roommate was really, really smart. I couldn't beat him at chess - until I traded him down to only four or five pieces. Then David could whip Goliath - at least once in a while.

Tony Kondaks

Uh, the David and Goliath piece is NOT your latest New Yorker piece, Malcolm; it's the one on the other dogs...of the Michael Vick and NFL variety.

Will you please consider starting a blog thread on that piece? Or is that happening on a blog at another location I'm not aware of?

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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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  • What the Dog Saw

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    Tipping Point

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