What the Dog Saw and Other AdventuresLarge Print - 2009
In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point ; Blink ; and Outliers. Now, in What the Dog Saw , he brings together, for the first time, the best of his writing from The New Yorker over the same period.
Here is the bittersweet tale of the inventor of the birth control pill, and the dazzling inventions of the pasta sauce pioneer Howard Moscowitz. Gladwell sits with Ron Popeil, the king of the American kitchen, as he sells rotisserie ovens, and divines the secrets of Cesar Millan, the "dog whisperer" who can calm savage animals with the touch of his hand. He explores intelligence tests and ethnic profiling and "hindsight bias" and why it was that everyone in Silicon Valley once tripped over themselves to hire the same college graduate.
"Good writing," Gladwell says in his preface, "does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head." What the Dog Saw is yet another example of the buoyant spirit and unflagging curiosity that have made Malcolm Gladwell our most brilliant investigator of the hidden extraordinary.
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It was a textbook dog-biting case: unneutered, ill-trained, charged-up dogs with a history of aggression and an irresponsible owner somehow get loose and set upon a small child. The dogs had already passed through the animal bureaucracy of Ottawa, and the city could easily have prevented the second attack with the right kind of generalization - a generalization based not on breed but on the known and meaningful connection between dangerous dogs and negligent owners.
The kinds of dogs that kill people change over time, because the popularity of certain breeds changes over time. The one thing that doesn't change is the total number of the people killed by dogs. When we have more problems with pit bulls, it's not necessarily a sign that pit bulls are more dangerous than other dogs. It could just be a sign that pit bulls have become more numerous.
They were looking for people who had the talent to think ouside the box. It never occurred to them that, if everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing.
One possibility is simply to hire and reward the smartest people. But the link between, say, IQ and job performance is distinctly underwhelming. . . . 'What IQ doesn't pick up is effectiveness at commonsense sorts of things, especially working with people,' Richard Wagner, a psychologist a Florida State University, says. 'In terms of how we evaluate schooling, everything is about working by yourself. If you work with someone else, it's called cheating. Once you get out in the real world, everything you do involves working with other people.'
in our zeal to correct what we believe to be the problems of the past, we end up creating new problems for the future.
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