In recent years, David Brooks of the NYT has taken up Malcolm Gladwell`s rhetorical straw man device of writing as if the conventional wisdom in 21st Century American media circles consists of a cartoonish caricature of my ideas. Gladwell and Brooks then go on to refute Sailerism to vast applause.
Not surprisingly, Brooks writes in the NYT:
It’s become fashionable to bash Malcolm Gladwell for being too interesting and not theoretical enough. This is absurd. Gladwell’s pieces in The New Yorker are always worth reading, so I’ll just pick out one, “Offensive Play,” on the lingering effects of football violence, for a Sidney award — in part to celebrate his work and in part as protest against the envious herd.
Gladwell`s problem isn`t that he`s “not theoretical enough.” Gladwell is relentlessly theoretical. For example, he entitled one chapter in his bestseller Outliers “The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes.” Gladwell`s problem is that most of his countless theories are so wrong that a few minutes of reflection can debunk them.
Note that the one Gladwell article Brooks specifically endorses is one that I endorsed in a post entitled “David Brooks` lonely struggle against the Sailerite conventional wisdom.” Unlike Gladwell, Brooks is smart enough and sly enough to know he doesn`t want to get in a headlong battle over simple matters of fact, so he chose to endorse a Gladwell article pre-approved by me.