I have a lot of sympathy for the Blink-man here: he writes these bestsellers and puts himself out there, so he’s a target. If Gladwell’s books were generic business-bestseller pap of the be-yourself-and-be-tough variety, he wouldn’t get hassled. It’s because Gladwell has this impressive track record of putting out these intellectual earworms—the tipping point, blink, the 10,000 hours.Gladwell is probably a better writer than most of the "business/self-help inspirational" writers out there.
Nobody is criticizing storytelling. Stories are great, and they’re a key way we understand the world. ... Here’s the problem. What Chabris is saying (I think)—and, in any case, what I’m saying—is that the messiness of reality is a key way that stories work in conveying information and overturning our preconceptions. [M]y problem was not that Gladwell was not academic, or that he had too much messy reality in his books. Rather, my problem (and, I think, Chabris’s as well) was that Gladwell’s stories were not messy enough! Fables are fun, but the real world can be much more interesting.
O.K, Gladwell served us some stone soup. If that is the only food around, I will take it, but it is not. The problem is that too much stone soup around, where is the meat?... [T]he point is that to just report that study as truth without mentioning the controversy over its non replication . . . that’s over-smoothing. It makes the story less interesting, less messy, less real.