Uhm. Wow. It seems that Malcolm Gladwell really, really didn’t like the response to his latest New Yorker article from Jane Galt (who, in the interest of full disclosure, we’ll now take the time to admit having met socially on more than one occasion; and further, we’ll admit we found her rather fetching each time—although she has graciously pretended not to notice our attentions). He’s pennedblogged a (over)heated response to her.
[More on Galt versus Gladwell after the jump]
One sign that Gladwell (who, in the interest of full disclosure, we’ll admit to having ran into in a Lower East Side bar; we struck up a conversation with him until we realized we were perhaps interrupting a date with a young woman he was sitting with) is lashing out a bit irrationally is that he starts assigning all sorts of actions to Galt, and in the course of it abstracts away from her into a archetype of blogger that must exist in his imagination.
One of my frustrations with the blogosphere--as those of you who read this blog know--is that I think that the immediacy of web publishing makes some people lazy. They type faster than they think; or they believe that a reaction is the same thing as an argument.
Now we don’t know how fast Jane types but we’ve noticed she thinks not only quickly but quite reliably as well. And, as Jane points out in response to Gladwell, she did read the paper.
The oddest part of Gladwell’s objection, however, is his attempt to distance himself from the debate.
"Gladwell" does not attribute Irish success to falling birth rates. David Bloom and David Canning do. Gladwell is a journalist. Bloom and Canning are two exceedingly prestigious economists at Harvard, who are considered world experts in the field of demography and economics. Gladwell was impressed by them. He talked to them. He read their work. He was convinced by them. But he didn't make this argument up on the back of his journalistic notepad. And to neglect the true source of this argument is to trivilize and demean it. This is not Gladwell v. Jane Galt; journalist v. blogger. It's world experts v. blogger.
Try real hard not to pay any attention to the weird third person thing Gladwell does here. (Okay. If you must, you can read Steve Sailer making fun of it.) Rather, notice the weirdness of his objection that one must argue with the source rather than the journalist. But Galt isn’t an expert in the subject either. She’s a writer, and she’s debating a proposition with another writer. And that proposition is Gladwell’s—namely, that the case put forth by the economists is persuasive. Gladwell is not just reporting on a study—he has selected a particular study and publicized its particular findings. It seems fair enough to expect him to stand behind them and deal with criticism of them.
Dependency Ratios: one last time [Gladwell.com]
Malcolm Gladwell hates me [Asymmetrical Information]
This blogging thing really not working out for Malcolm Gladwell [isteve .com]