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Sunday, March 9 - 8:10amSanction this postReply
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Malcolm Gladwell Syndrome is the grand-scale misapplication of a limited social-science concept through Procrustean logic.

 

Popular psychology author Malcolm Gladwell has a business model: 1) describe an interesting social phenomenon through metaphor 2) through cherry-picked studies and numerous assumptions, make it appear that the phenomenon is everywhere 3) offer prescriptive insights on practical application of the concept in everyday life. Gladwell began with bestseller The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, with the metaphor that "Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do." In the book, he claims that the "viral" social phenomenon was responsible for everything from the popularity of certain shoe brands to the fall in New York City crime rates. The book was such a success he didn't stop there, and has come out with four more bestselling books: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Outlers: The Story of Success, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. Critical reception of Gladwell was originally positive, but as many critics and scientists have seriously examined the assumptions and data behind Gladwell's narratives, they've discovered a pattern of loose threads that unravel the entire tapestry if one only keeps pulling and questioning long enough. David Epstein's The Sports Gene is a particularly damning biology- and evidence-based refutation of Gladwell's fun-to-believe but scientifically dubious hypothesis from Outliers that the key to success in any field is practicing a task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

   

While Gladwell may be the Patient Zero of unconstrained social theory of our time, we've seen the hobbyists of other pop-psych frameworks fall victim to Malcolm Gladwell Syndrome as well. In particular, Daniel Kahneman's 2011 book, "Thinking Fast and Slow," has proven fertile ground for Gladwellian exaggerators to take a limited psychology concept and run wild with it across the behavioral countryside. The title of the book is itself a metaphor with the central hypothesis being that human minds operate in two modes: System 1 - instinctive and emotional; and System 2 - deliberative and more logical. Kahneman himself qualifies that there are no literal physical zones in the human brain that correspond to these "modes" of thinking, and cautions readers against taking the metaphor too far in light of the incredibly complex organ that is the human brain.

 

The more complicated reality - which Kahneman nobly attempts to simplify for ease of popular understanding - is that emotion intergrates with logic in ways far more complicated than a rigid System 1 - System 2 dichotomy, and the metaphor isn't appropriate when expanded beyond the realm of certain well-defined laboratory-type situations. Emotions and logic often arrive and run together, informing each other, and producing results that neither "system" could produce working without the other. This hasn't stopped Kahneman followers from using the tool as a bludgeon whenever it suits their narrative, opportunisticly using it to quell disagreement on the basis an opponent is inappropriately using a "System 1" thinking mode where "System 2" is supposedly required.

 

In light of the black-box problems with most social science and the reality that very few studies are directly replicable, we should keep in mind that limited metaphors are just that. When we begin mistaking the models for reality - or begin seeing every situation as a crooked nail calling out for the same conceptual hammer to straighten it - it's time to step back and take the dose of humility Gladwell and those like him so badly need.

 

(Edited by Robert Baratheon on 3/09, 8:41am)



Post 1

Sunday, March 9 - 2:38pmSanction this postReply
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Social Disease: The need to use the word 'social' in every sentence of every argument.  Not to be confused with Malcolm Gladwell Syndrome.

 

 



Post 2

Sunday, March 9 - 3:47pmSanction this postReply
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Fred - I used the word "social" twice in my other thread, not "in every sentence" as you claim. And I was not using it to justify any initiation of violence, contrary to your ridiculous "gang rape" example.

 

If you in fact read this post, then you know that I am criticizing those who abuse the false consensuses of social science and beat others over the head with them.



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Post 3

Monday, March 10 - 8:25amSanction this postReply
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Robert:

 

I don't support gang rape; I don't support rape.   What distinguishes gang rape from rape is pure democracy, the will of a majority.What distinguishes rape from an act of consensual sex is free vs. forced association.   I don't support forced association.

 

I sleep like a baby not supporting any of that.   If you find those positions 'ridiculous' then be my guest and ridicule them; I'll sleep like a baby.

 

Again, with full irony, feel free.

 

regards,

Fred

 

 



Post 4

Monday, March 10 - 8:50amSanction this postReply
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Fred,

You are speaking to Robert as if he is Eva Matthews reborn on RoR.  I get Robert as nearly the polar opposite of Matthews (or whatever his/her/them name is).  What did I miss?  I know Robert works for the feds in Washington, but I believe he is sincere in his stated libertarian/objectivist viewpoints.  I think it is interesting having an "insider" viewpoint on this forum.  I also was monitoring from time to time his participation on OL and was baffled by MSK seeming attacks from nowhere, at most Robert's comments could be interpreted from different perspectives, picking the worst possible interpretation, then attacking Robert for trying to defend himself from being blindsided...that's what I read.  I was also engaged in a pm conversation with Robert which suddenly ended.  Evidently Robert's ability to PM was ended on OL as well.

 

-Mike E.



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Post 5

Monday, March 10 - 12:08pmSanction this postReply
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MikeE:

 

He referred me to his You Win or You Die thread.    In the first post of his own thread, he describes the Jim Taggart character from Rand's romantic work of art, Atlas Shrugged and then asks the question,

 

Something that has always fascinated (and repulsed) me is how powerful individuals tend to corrupt organizations by installing their agents (often friends or relatives) in the place of merit-based hires,  arbitrarily subverting organizational rules to reinforce their power, and self-servingly appropriating organization funds rather than investing in the organization or its members. I’d go so far as to say that I've never witnessed first-hand an organization that did not fall prey to these unpalatable human tendencies.

 

How does Objectivism relate to these themes, and what does it have to say about the powerful using organizations for their own ends?

 

You believe that he is sincere over his apparent confusion over whether Rand's portrayal of James Taggert, et.al., in Atlas Shrugged made subtle the answer to the question of "How does Ojectivism relate to these themes," whereas I believe that as an apparently educated man, he is purposefully dense, because no sincere perusal of her works could possibly come away with any such confusion.   The woman wrote with a giant crayon in words a mile high.   It is laughable to claim that was a suble theme in a 1000+ page book describing almost nothing else but how Objectivism relates to those themes.

 

Is Objectivism, or Libertarianism, a code of conduct that can be exploited by those who aren’t constrained by its tenets?

 

Isn't that exactly what he just attempted with his thesis, by driveby spraypainting the villians of AS as Rand's heros?   Only in the sense that it is possible to put sentences into a blender, turn it on "High", pull the letters out, and reconstruct sentences, thoughts, and agendas using those letters that have no relationship at all to the original ideas.   There are only two possibilities for a blunder so glaring: either incompetence or malevolence.   I don't see the possibility of any sincere confusion over such hardly subtle facts.

 

The first post was enough, but the 'nobody is looking so the $20 is mine' definition of self-interest sealed the deal for me.  God bless the 1st Amendment, it illuminates in two directions.    That is its purpose, that is its role.   To freely provide us all with the information necessary to form our free associations.

 

regards,

Fred

 

 

 



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Post 6

Monday, March 10 - 12:29pmSanction this postReply
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MikeE:

 

You Win or You Die.   

 

I didn't name Robert's thread, nor did I write his first post.  I promise, he is not my sock puppet, sent to OL to turn over any apple carts.  (Towards what end?  I am a guest here...I am a guest there.)

 

So, would you assess that thread title as a sincere characterization of Rand's Objectivism?   What is your interpretation of his turn of art in his thread title?

 

Well, I too believe he is sincere in his objectivist/libertarian beliefs, as well as his desire to discredit them by deliberately mischaracterizing them either at OL or RoR, take your pick.

 

Because to believe otherwise, I would need to call him an idiot, and that would be rude.

 

regards,

Fred

 

 



Post 7

Monday, March 10 - 12:43pmSanction this postReply
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Fred - Not so. James Taggart was a jealous and spiteful person who used his influence to hamper the productive efforts of others, even to the point of abject irrationality.

 

This isn't the behavior I described at all. My post was about individuals who intentionally and rationally subvert organizations to serve their own narrow interests at the expense of other individuals and any competing goals that the organization might have had.

 

Regarding the found money - if you wouldn't pick up a $20 bill off the street because you didn't feel you earned it, I find that behavior rather silly. It's divorcing principles from any meaningful context, and martyring yourself to them out of a misguided - almost religious - notion of integrity. That is exactly what I was driving at with my topic.



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Post 8

Monday, March 10 - 3:36pmSanction this postReply
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Robert:

 

What you actually asserted on OL, in your words:

 

Here is an example: I recently found $20 cash on the counter in a Starbucks. It obviously had fallen out of somebody's pocket in the hustle and bustle of the ordering line. The law says the money still belongs to whoever dropped it, so the capitalist imperative was for me to report it to the police or store owner. That would have taken a lot time and effort, and I knew that realistically a) it was very unlikely to find its proper owner if I did report it, and b) somebody else would likely keep it if I left it there and walked away. In light of this, I decided to keep the money and buy something nice with it. Pragmatism won out over idealism because the ideal didn't conform to what the situation dictated. Similarly, I can go to the store and spend $100 on the latest word-processing software or I can download it for free at my convenience. Gee, that's a difficult one.

 

 

 

What you have now weasel worded that into:

 

Regarding the found money - if you wouldn't pick up a $20 bill off the street because you didn't feel you earned it, I find that behavior rather silly. It's divorcing principles from any meaningful context, and martyring yourself to them out of a misguided - almost religious - notion of integrity. That is exactly what I was driving at with my topic.

 

 

 

Weasel worded:   gee, now where have I run into that before?

 

You're busted.  Credibility is like virginity, you only lose it once.   And, that is exactly what I was driving at with my response to your topic.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Post 9

Monday, March 10 - 3:47pmSanction this postReply
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Fred,

 

"Busted?" Hardly. I know what I wrote, and your foot-stamping is over a distinction without a difference. 

 

The relevant principle in my example was the following: "The law says the money still belongs to whoever dropped it, so the capitalist imperative was for me to report it to the police or store owner." This is true regardless of whether the money was found on the street or in a coffee shop.



Post 10

Monday, March 10 - 6:40pmSanction this postReply
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MikeE:

 

He referred me to his You Win or You Die thread.    In the first post of his own thread, he describes the Jim Taggart character from Rand's romantic work of art, Atlas Shrugged and then asks the question,

 

Something that has always fascinated (and repulsed) me is how powerful individuals tend to corrupt organizations by installing their agents (often friends or relatives) in the place of merit-based hires,  arbitrarily subverting organizational rules to reinforce their power, and self-servingly appropriating organization funds rather than investing in the organization or its members. I’d go so far as to say that I've never witnessed first-hand an organization that did not fall prey to these unpalatable human tendencies.

 

How does Objectivism relate to these themes, and what does it have to say about the powerful using organizations for their own ends?

 

You believe that he is sincere over his apparent confusion over whether Rand's portrayal of James Taggert, et.al., in Atlas Shrugged made subtle the answer to the question of "How does Ojectivism relate to these themes," whereas I believe that as an apparently educated man, he is purposefully dense, because no sincere perusal of her works could possibly come away with any such confusion.   The woman wrote with a giant crayon in words a mile high.   It is laughable to claim that was a suble theme in a 1000+ page book describing almost nothing else but how Objectivism relates to those themes.

 

Is Objectivism, or Libertarianism, a code of conduct that can be exploited by those who aren’t constrained by its tenets?

 

Isn't that exactly what he just attempted with his thesis, by driveby spraypainting the villians of AS as Rand's heros?   Only in the sense that it is possible to put sentences into a blender, turn it on "High", pull the letters out, and reconstruct sentences, thoughts, and agendas using those letters that have no relationship at all to the original ideas.   There are only two possibilities for a blunder so glaring: either incompetence or malevolence.   I don't see the possibility of any sincere confusion over such hardly subtle facts.

 

The first post was enough, but the 'nobody is looking so the $20 is mine' definition of self-interest sealed the deal for me.  God bless the 1st Amendment, it illuminates in two directions.    That is its purpose, that is its role.   To freely provide us all with the information necessary to form our free associations.

 

regards,

Fred

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fred,

I don't see a reference to James Taggert in the first post of "You Win or You Die".  I am frankly baffled by these exchanges with Robert.  I don't see him as being dishonest or trying to be deceptive, simply trying to introduce topics he is interested in talking about.  I gather he observes first hand, because of the nature of his job, the kind of behavior he illustrates.  I don't want to speculate further.  I'm going to simplify my life by ceasing to participate.



Post 11

Tuesday, March 11 - 5:40amSanction this postReply
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MikeE:

 

I don't see him as being dishonest or trying to be deceptive, simply trying to introduce topics he is interested in talking about.

 

Fair enough, you don't see that.  But you also don't see him doing that in this case except in a thread that -he- titled simply "You Win or You Die" in which the questions raised in his first post of his self-titled thread are:

 

How does Objectivism relate to these themes, and what does it have to say about the powerful using organizations for their own ends?..Is Objectivism, or Libertarianism, a code of conduct that can be exploited by those who aren’t constrained by its tenets?

 

I have yet to see the lawyerly explanation of my bumbling interpretation of that as anything other than:   Objectivism/Libertarianism="You Win or You Die."  His title.  His question.  His characterization.    His spraypaint.    He is very communicative.   I understand that he meant to convey exactly that.   Consider it conveyed.

 

Was that really that subtle--it's in his title--, or is this a case of temporary blindness induced by cognitive dissonance?

 

Are you sure his agenda here in this tiny substation of the "You Win or You Die Railroad" isn't exactly to encourage as many as possible to "simplify their life?"

 

regards,

Fred

 

 



Post 12

Tuesday, March 11 - 5:55amSanction this postReply
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Robert:

 

The relevant principle in my example was the following: "The law says the money still belongs to whoever dropped it, so the capitalist imperative was for me to report it to the police or store owner." This is true regardless of whether the money was found on the street or in a coffee shop.

 

???  A very lawyerly distraction using the obvious.   Exactly.   It is a relevant principle we don't share, which was my point in bringing it up.

 

I also abhor rape, gang rape, slavery, totalitarianism, and other forms of forced association.  I believe what distinguishes gang rape from rape is only the characteristic pure, unfettered democracy, majority rule. A majority has its way with a minority based on the Holy wants and needs of that majority.   I believe what distinguishes an act of rape from a consentual act is the barely subtle 'consent.'       You've lawyerly countered all that by calling my position 'absurd' so I can assume these are yet other principles we don't share.   Is it impolite to point out that your only argument is to literally claim 'that is absurd?'   It's not folks function in life to reassure me that they got nothing when they got nothing, but again, with full irony, 'feel free.'

 

It's possible; there could be libertarian/objectivist/free marketers who love rape, slavery, and forced association, and think that anyone who abhors all that is 'absurd.'    Sure.  That is me with an open mind, willing to tolerate termites in the floor, which was the sin of our fathers.

 

regards,

Fred

 

 



Post 13

Tuesday, March 11 - 5:55amSanction this postReply
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Fred - "You Win or You Die" is a recurring quote from the Game of Thrones series, which was the subject of my post. My post raised the question of to what degree this theme mirrors real life and how Objectivist philosophy responds to it. Whatever other meanings you are divining from the title were not a consideration.



Post 14

Tuesday, March 11 - 6:02amSanction this postReply
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Fred - Really? The rape stuff again?

 

This isn't a "rape" post. It's simply not relevant or appropriate to anything I discussed.

 

If you want to talk about rape so much, you can start a "rape" topic. It can be rape, rape, rape all day long in your thread. But if you're going to comment on my topic, please try to stay somewhat focused.



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Post 15

Tuesday, March 11 - 6:41amSanction this postReply
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Robert:

 

You found a $20 on a counter in a Starbucks/coffee shop.   And you knew it wasn't intended as a tip for the person who cleans up the counter because?    Because you actually saw the person who either dropped the $20 on purpose or not, or you didn't see that person and have no idea what their intent was?   Is there another possibility?

 

Because you lawyerly reasoned, "I never tip $20 in a coffee shop, so nobody else should, therefore the 'risk' of me stealing a tip intended for someone else is a 'risk' I am not only willing but $20 eager to take.   Because in my reptilian sense of value-less ethics, limited only by 'Can it eat me? Can I eat it?' and whatever numbers are printed on the pretty value-proxies,   I looked left and then right and concluded "I can eat it, and if I don't, some other reptile will."

 

$20?  You sell your self cheap.    You couldn't drop the $20 that wasn't yours, that might have actually been earned by the person serving coffee, as judged by the once holder of the IOU, in the tip jar?   Why, no.  It was yours.  You'd earned it...by looking left and looking right first.

 

All perfectly legal.    But in terms of ethics, thanks for the warning of what you believe is OK when nobody is looking.   In this case, that was, subverting the meaning of value-proxy as a proxy for value.

 

That principle isn't about what others like me would think if we knew.    It's about what you yourself would know about yourself, and accept. 

 

A Holy majority of fine Americans, in fact, of the world, would agree with you in a heartbeat.   That is why, even if there is a 'lost and found' box underneath the counter with the tip jar, few fools are ever going to give the $20 to the likely other reptile behind the counter and report an anonymous value proxy 'lost.'    And, no fool goes back to the coffee shop to ask if anyone found a 'lost' $20.

 

But not close to the point.  The point is, when blowing by the anonymous tip jar, what you would accept into your hands and offer to the next person as a symbol of your values, and by so doing, corrupt economies that rely on value-proxies as meaningful placeholders for actual value(a now archaic concept.)   The net modern result of the institutionalization of this concept on a grand scale we call the financial services industry; the intense focus on the gaming of lost or otherwise misplaced or misdirected value-proxies, no longer primarily in the 'service' as once claimed of building beast, but long in the self-service of carving carcass, until long past the time when the bones began to show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Post 16

Tuesday, March 11 - 6:56amSanction this postReply
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Fred - "You Win or You Die" is a recurring quote from the Game of Thrones series, which was the subject of my post. My post raised the question of to what degree this theme mirrors real life and how Objectivist philosophy responds to it. Whatever other meanings you are divining from the title were not a consideration.

 

So to be clear, in your opinion, objectivism/libertarianism is the antithesis of reptilian "you win or you die", and is something that 'responds to it' as opposed to Is Objectivism, or Libertarianism, a code of conduct that can be exploited by those who aren’t constrained by its tenets?

 

So your intent, by asking "Is Objectivism, or Libertarianism, a code of conduct that can be exploited by those who aren’t constrained by its tenets?    is really more akin to the following:

 

Could lying, deceitful scum, driven by agendas anathema to objectivism or libertarianism, deliberately mischaracterize it, put its thoughts and words into a blender and spout them back devoid of all original meaning in order to pursue their agendas?

 

Well sure.  Not only can that happen, but it is and has been an existential necessity for those still clinging to the alternative gigs.

 

So, how should folks respond to such lying deceitful scum?  Let's go kick their ass.

 

regards,

Fred

 

(Edited by Fred Bartlett on 3/11, 7:19am)



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Tuesday, March 11 - 7:14amSanction this postReply
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Robert:

 

Fred - Really? The rape stuff again?

 

The context was, principles we don't share.    I've never gone to law school, so I interpreted your assessment of  'forced association/lack of consent is what makes rape 'rape' as 'absurd' as meaing you also don't share that principle as well, as in, you have a more refined definition of what characteristic makes rape 'rape' other than my clear absurdity based on consent/forced association.

 

In law school these days, when something is refered to as absurd, is that meant to convey agreement with, or disagreement with?  Or is it Jello talk meant to tread water and say nothing?

 

Let''s pretend that was a question.  I did put a '?' at the end, so legally, I think I'm covered.

 

The rape stuff again?   In the context of 'Malcolm Gladwell Syndrome?"   Isn't there a vague 'danger' in this 'complex world' of seeing rape as 'rape?'  (No doubt, rapists would think so.)   Of seeing slavery as slavery?   Of seeing totalitarianism as anathema to freedom?    Shouldn't we all just find some 'humility', lay back, and enjoy it?

 

Because to identity rape as 'rape' would be ... er.....ah.....'absurd.'

 

In light of the black-box problems with most social science and the reality that very few studies are directly replicable, we should keep in mind that limited metaphors are just that. When we begin mistaking the models for reality - or begin seeing every situation as a crooked nail calling out for the same conceptual hammer to straighten it - it's time to step back and take the dose of humility Gladwell and those like him so badly need.

 

regards,

Fred



Post 18

Tuesday, March 11 - 7:49amSanction this postReply
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Fred - The counter in many Starbucks locations extends the entire length of the ordering line. The cash I found was crumpled, in between display products, and located on a part of the counter nowhere near the cashiers or tip jar. Since everything that followed in your post was based on the faulty assumption that I misappropriated money that might have been intended for the staff of the store - contradicted by the plain facts and description in my original post - I needn't discuss your accusations further.



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Post 19

Tuesday, March 11 - 8:18amSanction this postReply
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Robert:

 

Neither do I.   You claim to know the intent of the once owner of that $20, without having seen that owner, because it was far from the tip jar, your Honor.   And so, unlike a diver on a wreck risking his life to recover lost treasure and reclaiming value once lost, you looked left, you looked right, and placed $20 of now value-less value proxy into circulation.   The theft that occurred was not when you grabbed the loose value-proxy.   The theft occurred when you looked a peer in the eye and offered them no value at all of your own  in exchange for their own. and rationalized that concrete representation of your abstract values.

 

That is one value we don't share.    The others are based on my not complex at all absurdities in the context of the Malcolm Gladwell Syndrome.

 

regards,

Fred

 

 

 

 



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