Outliers? Really? I get why people like the book — Gladwell is excellent at making his readers feel smart and stylistically he has few rivals — but substantively its thesis is built on anecdotes, it’s riddled with logical fallacies and unnecessary assumptions and… Now I am being an elitist prick.
For about 90 minutes, I was seduced by Gladwell. The gimmick worked. He made me feel like I was having one epiphany after another and his style was magnetic. But, the second I began to think critically about what I was “learning,” I felt embarrassed; I’d been duped. Unfortunately for me, I had only brought two other books to the river that day; one was Cornel West’s Hope On A Tightrope — which was like reading a book of full of socio-political fortune cookies — and the other was the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks — a great read but I clumsily dropped it into Northern Oregon’s Willamette River while wading out to an island.
Now, I have a rule for academic(ish) nonfiction: If it doesn’t challenge me, repeatedly force me to re-read sentences and paragraphs; if it’s revelations are unfolding too quickly and succinctly, the reason is probably not that I am a genius capable of grasping esoteric quandaries and their respective solutions in an afternoon; rather, it’s likely the book’s just not that valuable epistemically.
I went all in the pretentious asshole commenter who zeroed in on a writer’s throwaway joke like it was a dissertation all because I don’t feel like working today.