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Old 11-13-2010, 12:00 AM   #114
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 18

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
Hello Keith,

The best information about Geert Hofstede can be found on his own website:

Gladwell accepts Hofstede's 'dimensions' without any question and uses these in his chapter on the 'ethnic theory of plane crashes'. (Gladwell, Outliers, pp. 202-209).
Thank you Dr. Goldsbury, I'll look them up.

You reminded me of other reservations I've had with Gladwell's work. I think it was tipping point where he writes about the so-called "broken window" theory. He accepts this theory on a sort of "common sense" level. And while some do accept the theory, there is actually little consensus as to whether it is actually accurate. But Gladwell uses it because it fits his narrative. Then the concept gains traction *because* of Gladwell's writing creating a sort of self-validation cycle.

There is also a rather famous critique of Gladwell that included the note that one of his essays referred to something he called an "Igon value". Which is truly odd since there is no such thing. What he meant was eigenvalue, while not a "popular culture" term, it is quite common in linear algebra and especially important for matrix operations. But the point is that he just simply didn't know what it was. All while he's linking together all sorts of good sounding concepts. So it is like he's saying some of the right things with the right words, but there is the constant impression that he simply doesn't have any sort of deep or subtle understanding of the underlying concepts.

What I find interesting is that I am sympathetic with many of his ideas. It is just his supporting evidence, while easy reading, is often simply quite superficial at best. Add in his cherry picking of data, cherry picking of theories, and voila, he can create a great sounding bit of pop music with a snazzy hook. It all sounds good, it just lacks any substance.

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