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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference Paperback – January 7, 2002
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About the Author
Malcolm Gladwell is also the author of the #1 bestselling Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. He was a reporter for the Washington Post from 1987 to 1996, working first as a science writer and then as New York City bureau chief. Since 1996, he has been a staff writer for The New Yorker.
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a) Malcolm Gladwell is not a scientist, and he lacks the skepticism which is so mauch an important part of science. He starts with the story of the crime fall in NY that came shortly after the start of the "broken windows" policy. The "fact" that the "broken windows"policy made such a huge change serves him well for his arguments, but there is a problem here. the claim that the "broken windows" policy was the main factor in reducing the crime at that time in NY, is an assumption, and by now we have strong reasons to believe that it played only a mior role in the crime reduction. Other factors such as reduction of lead in fuel have much stronger correlation with the crime reduction, and in many other places, as well, while efforts to replicate the "broken windows" policy elsewhere did not produce the same results. So his first chapter is about a nice but false story that if it was true, was showing an interesting nature of how vast changes in behavior happen.
The second problem, is that the book was written before that Internet became a major player in the field. By now it is problably the most major player, but the book describes how things were before the Internet became a major player. In this sense, the book describes how things were in another era. Things have completely changed since then.
With a degree in social psychology, I can’t help being excited and impressed by the research contributions of the field. The findings he cites often seem obvious and “of course” once the results are in. And sometimes the results contradict “common sense.” Always they require clever design by those who create the hypotheses and methods of measurement.
But this book does not claim to produce new research. What the author does is present interesting and validated findings in a way that organizes them for potential application to a given range of problems. Readers who want more scientific journal type evidence are free to take the suggestions and create their own statistically designed clever research.
As for me, his suggestions set me to thinking and observing life as it is lived. I will confess, I wish he had been able to identify a numerical
tipping point. It would help me a lot in my efforts to create an epidemic of readers for my latest book. But maybe some of what I’m doing will be helped by thinking along the lines he suggests.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book – a good, thought provoking read.
Gladwell is adept at explaining the academic research that led to such popular ideas as “six degrees of separation” and relating such social science experimentation to his overall theme of how change happens. He goes deeply into the discoveries about learning that led to the success of “Sesame Street” and “Blue’s Clues”—these shows’ producers used the idea of “stickiness” to instill basic principles and values in pre-schoolers. The “broken windows” theory of policing gets a thorough explainer, including a side trip into how do-gooding seminarians can allow themselves to avoid being good Samaritans. Advertising is one of the great accelerators of trends, and Gladwell marshals a few Madison Ave. case studies to show how commercials tip us into parting with our hard-earned cash.
Absolutely painless learning is what Gladwell offers, with a side benefit of greater self-awareness.