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Took me time to read all the comments, but I enjoyed the article.

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Very good posting. I just love it.
Good work. :)



How about investigating and writing about the insecurity, emotional impotence, and inferiority complex underneath the obnoxious intellectualism and snobbery of many people (mostly male and overeducated, apparently) who post responses here? For some reason this blog seems to attract droves of geeks and nerds with self-image problems who feel the uncontrollable urge to justify their IQ and worth.


From RealClimate.org - 2009 temperatures by Jim Hansen:

"..the information conduit is a process. Scientists do their job and produce technically correct statements, and hopefully some context, and then the various levels of popularisers take that information and make pithier and more palatable (though less informative statements) that are nonetheless consistent with the scientific statements. So here, soundbites like 'it's weather not climate', or 'look globally, not locally', can follow knowing that there is some factual basis for that. Scientists can of course be popularisers as well, but we can't neglect the technical stuff that stands behind it. - gavin"
I was unable to identify "gavin" (I assume he is involved in the website, perhaps as a moderator), but his opinion is spot on.

Gladwell's writing is part of the process of popularisation, condensation and explanation, and he writes in an engaging and easily read style that whets one's appetite to learn more about the subject; encouraging the reader to consider it with critical and reflective thinking rather than simply accept what Gladwell has written as being all one needs to know. This discussion is surely proof of that.

"igon value" appears to be a phonetic transcription of "eigenvalue"; shouldn't have been transcribed incorrectly, should have been caught in proofreading. Mea Cupa due from someone, and let's get on with it. The broad strokes are unchanged. (I've had my battles with so called technical editors, who have completely changed meaning and intent because of editorial changes they've made without knowledge of the subject)

Let's NOT throw out the baby with the bathwater!

Letting Agent Glasgow

I'm with conor on this one, love it when writers stand their ground and fight back, the good ones will if they think they have been hard done by or really believe their own work

Paul Hull

I have a question about the Toyota "sticking pedal" problem and am sending it to you because you appear to be interested in almost everything. While you may not be able to fully answer I hope the question is interesting.

News reports seem to indicate that floor mats and/or sticking pedal may not be the real problem.
I don't know how many of the systems which make a Toyota function are mechanical from point of origin to end use. Are any anymore or are they all computer driven at some point. For example, when you place the car in drive or reverse do you actually move a lever which connects mechanically to the transmission or do you actuate a computer (part of a computer more likely) which transmits your order to the transmission which activates a solenoid which places the car in the proper gear.

How many of these systems are part of the main computer and is that computer fully integrated?

Could this account for the reports that Toyotas "run away" even though brakes are applied and the car is shifted into neutral or even reverse?

When my computer "freezes" or my DVD player “freezes” it doesn't make any difference how many keys I push or weather I try to turn it off. Nothing happens. The only solution is to turn the power off then back on at the power source. This resets everything and it works fine.

This could explain the report that the Lexus which accelerated in California suddenly stopped misbehaving and, when taken to the dealer, did not appear to have anything wrong with it. It's only faulty when it's frozen. When it isn't there's no problem. Naturally this problem is almost impossible to duplicate.

This problem probably cannot be solved because it is do difficult to duplicate. The only immediate solution would be to jam the car in park, assuming park is still mechanical. This might ruin the transmission but save your life.

A better solution might be a kill switch.

Paul Hull


There are good responses and there are bad responses. A good response would be for Gladwell to admit to his errors, acknowledge that he is at times out of his intellectual depth, and promise to consult with an expert before treading boldly beyond his own intellectual limits, as he seems wont to do. (I say seems because I stopped reading http://www.rapidskunk.com Gladwell's writing years ago--save for these three blog posts I was linked to--after concluding he was nothing but a bullshit artist.)

David Delos Santos

What the little girl saw in your book...

I just bought your latest book "What the Dog Saw and other adventures". I was reading it while waiting for the car of my friend to be washed in a local Car Wash Shop. A small girl named Stefanie (2 years old), the daughter of the car wash staff, came and looked at me. She started looking at your book and soon 'borrowed' it from me. It is clear that she likes 'reading' a lot. The amusing thing is when I asked Stefanie a question about the blue rubber shoe on the cover of your book. "Whose shoe is this? Is it your Daddy's or your Mommy's?" She promptly replied, "Daddy". I promised to give Stefanie some coloring books to explore and Crayolas to color them.

You may email me if you want a copy of the pictures that I took of Stefanie at the Car Wash Shop while she was 'reading' your book. :^)

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The hope of green fields, we yearn for the dream!


I agree, Malcolm, the New Yorker fact checkers are better than those who worked for your book. ( http://www.rapidpig.com )

If you are going to respond to criticism, it would be great for you to acknowledge a mistake.

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The fact of the matter is that Gladwell's writing is science for those who don't know anything about science; I know nobody who is informed enough to evaluate the veracity of Gladwell's various claims who is of the opinion that it makes for anything more than ill-informed dinner-party chatter.

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I also with Conor on this one...

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LoL Ive read that book

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I dont think you can expain it better than this XD

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Journalists are typically expected to be more than stenographers, which means understanding the meaning (as well as the spelling) of quotes they repeat, rather than merely reproducing them verbatim.

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At least i still get the point of it.

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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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