Thursday, February 06, 2014

Book Review (#15 of 2014) What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

I think I've now read all the books published under Gladwell's name, at least his best sellers. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is a collection of Gladwell essays written for the The New Yorker. They are wide-ranging and you can see how some of them relate to Gladwell's books.

If you are interested in:
How we consider genius, and how some geniuses might be "late bloomers"
Whether the birth control pill might cause more physical harm than societal good
Cost/benefits of mammograms
Why we might not want the CIA and FBI to work together on terrorism
Why there are dozens of brands of mustard but not ketchup
Dog whispering
Management and management consultants-- what they get wrong and right
Nassim Taleb's strategies
JFK junior's fatal plane crash
Criminal profilers
Smarter, cheaper ways to deal with the problem of homelessness

and various other potpourri, you will enjoy reading this compilation. It's Gladwell at his best, threading seemingly unrelated issues together using research from economists, psychologists, and sociologists.

Some things that affected how I think:
Why is it we put more trust in pictures, the sense of sight, than in other senses--like touch (this is in the mammogram chapter-- relate WWII bombing to mammograms)?

A puzzle is a situation where we lack information. A mystery is where we have the information but it has to be put together. Enron was a mystery, not a puzzle. Their financial statements and shell-game accounting arrangements were public information but it was years until anyone bothered to check it out. What problems do I face that are mysteries but I'm treating like puzzles, or vice-versa?

Every great artist had to have a patron, someone to support her during years of of work. Some of the great writers and composers had spent decades writing before they were "good" or noticed. These all had to have a patron behind them.

You can learn a lot from Gladwell's research. This book isn't deep but it's very wide. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

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