- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 286 KB
- Print Length: 70 pages
- Publisher: S.H.A.M.E. BOOKS (9 Aug. 2012)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B008VOJGE8
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- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #355,469 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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The Corruption of Malcolm Gladwell Kindle Edition
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His arguments for Gladwell's 'corruption' are thin and barely supported by evidence at all. Gladwell's books are not, after all, 'about' the tobacco industry or Big Pharma, they are about the way in which human societies operate that is sometimes outside our expectations. For example, in this book the author attempts to criticise Gladwell's assertion in his book that smokers don't smoke because it's cool, they smoke because smokers are cool (they deliberately choose something they know is 'forbidden' as teenagers). Of course the tobacco industry deliberately marketing to teenagers is abhorrent, it has been done particularly opaquely in India recently, but that isn't Gladwell's fault. And his statement does stand up quite well when you remove marketing from the equation; in the UK advertising by tobacco companies of any kind has been forbidden for a couple of decades and all packs have carried prominent warnings for 15+ years (think half the front of the pack covered by it) and yet teenagers still smoke. They still sneak off to do it. Just like Gladwell discusses in his book. He cites evidence from studies to support it: something this author could learn from.
The author criticises Gladwell for saying that lawsuits against tobacco companies are absurd. They are. No tobacco company ever forced someone to buy a pack of cigarettes, the health risks have been well documented for 30+ years and just because a jury or court upholds a lawsuit doesn't mean someone is not allowed an opinion that thinks otherwise. Many examples of people seeking to blame others for their own poor choices are easy to find.
Also, Gladwell's criticism of the comparison of the tobacco industries to Hitler's Holocaust is entirely legitimate. It IS offensive to compare the deaths of people who have chosen to smoke, knowing the risks to their health, no matter how devastating the number, to people who were forcibly removed from their homes and transported to death camps where they were gassed and their bodies thrown naked in mass graves. It belittles the suffering of those people and their families to make such comparisons. Smoking is a choice, there is lots of support out there if you want to quit, most smokers don't want to. Or don't want to enough. You could petition your government to make smoking illegal, but I suspect that wouldn't be very popular either, and until it is illegal, the tobacco companies are just doing that very American thing - selling what people want to buy. Accept it.
And finally, the real reason why I think this book deserves to be put down unfinished, the frailty of the arguments against Gladwell are so obvious because most of the chapter on the tobacco industry vilifies people that Gladwell's name was written on the same page as in a tobacco company's document. Or the several pages tearing apart Reagan's position on the tobacco industry, who Gladwell was apparently a fan of. Newsflash: quite a lot of people thought Reagan was pretty good - they elected the guy - it doesn't mean they supported everything he stood for, nor does it make them culpable for his deficiencies. To argue that Gladwell is corrupt because he reported in what appears to me to be a fairly balanced way on a study done by someone else and that that report was seen as positive by the tobacco industry is such a loose argument it doesn't even deserve consideration as a genuine piece of investigative journalism. The author goes on and on about a history of supportive articles but cites only one that wasn't even supportive. Absolute drivel. What he is saying is not far removed from this: a mass murderer writes a list that says he really admires Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot and Bruce Willis, therefore Bruce Willis is an evil man who supports mass murder.
The one genuinely questionable aspect of Gladwell's work is that he does speak at events for companies that the author clearly feels, and I don't entirely disagree, are immoral and should not be supported. However, as I said at the beginning of this review, Gladwell does not set himself up as an anti-smoking, anti-big business, anti-capitalist author or journalist. His books are not about tearing down the establishment. It seems to me a stretch to suggest that these engagements amount to a conflict of interest. He is entitled to hold views at the other end of the political spectrum to the author of this book, isn't he? He doesn't do the events in secret. The author hasn't presented any evidence that suggests that Gladwell is publishing vast numbers of articles all with a positive spin on these industries, though he tries to. It seems to me that Gladwell, like every other journalist, covers a story with perhaps an element of bias but without stooping to outright lies. I might not agree with Gladwell's politics, but I think to write a book with a title such as this is akin to a witch hunt. I for one found Gladwell's books fascinating, as do many people I know, and I work in education not big business! I have often used information I have gleaned from Outliers and Tipping Point to inform the way I go about my work. I haven't as a result changed my views, which are entirely negative, about Big Pharma, the tobacco industry or big business in general, so if it is propaganda, it's not very good!
Please don't buy this book. It is one author's poorly supported tirade against a man who, when given a chance to defend himself could not have said the right thing for this guy. He was asked to reveal private financial information, which is frankly none of the author's business and when he didn't was accused of being deceptive. He addressed one of the arguments against him but he really was talking to a brick wall so he stopped replying. Funny that.
Poor journalism. Hysterical writing. Deliberately misleading arguments that put the blame for a lot of people's wrongs on the shoulders of one of unproven guilt. Absolute drivel.
I've found Gladwell's books to be extraordinarily insightful and I'm glad he is around writing. I will always read a Gladwell book before a Levine book because it is certain to be more insightful and interesting, which I suspect is what's really driving Levine to devote his life to trashing other people's perceived imperfections rather than aiming to contribute something useful to the world. The latter is more challenging and more rewarding.
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