I hope those studies did not cost too much

Gladwell is fond of quirky factors. The unexpectedness of his explanations often disguises their banality or their error. In his new book, he is particularly interested in examining the amount of time that must be spent honing a skill or a craft, although his larger point is that society frequently plays a role in providing people with the opportunity to do so. “The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise,” Gladwell reports. (I hope those studies did not cost too much.)


Gladwell’s overarching thesis in Outliers is so obviously correct that it hardly merits discussion. “The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.” Also, tomorrow is the beginning of the rest of your life. Gladwell writes as if he is the only person in the world in possession of this platitudinous wisdom. The central irony of Outliers is that, Gladwell’s discomfort with the self-help genre notwithstanding, he has written a book that conforms to it perfectly. This is a motivational manual. It is larded with inspirational stories, and with interactive games to capture the reader’s attention–with handy charts and portentous graphs.

– Isaac Chotiner, reviewing Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers

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