Monday, October 5, 2015

RT: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Hello Everyone! 
Today I'm going to review my first ever non-fiction book on my blog. 
And I'm super excited to introduce this new feature that I made to fully analyze and discuss non-fictional books like Outliers! I'm going to be formatting this post as a "rhetorical triangle" and it will contain a review (pathos), analysis (logos), and discussion post (ethos). (Further explanation of this feature is provided at the end.)

Now without further ado, 

Title: Outliers
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Publication Date: November 18th 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Pathos (Review):

This book caters perfectly to the human's desire to be successful as well as their tendency to grasp for any excuse possible that would justify why they are not. What I mean by this is that people want to be successful, whether it is in business, war, love, or even religious pursuits. Yet, at the same time, we're trying to justify why we're not successful and this book gives us ample examples that will allow us to do so. 

Outliers presents success as a result of environment and culture, and in narrowing down and pin-pointing the factors that influence success, this book invokes a feeling of accomplishment at discovering the "secret to success" as well as one of relief/despair when we realize that success is dependent on circumstances out of our control. 

Personally, I didn't agree with how Mr. Gladwell credited success to the environment and not the individual. I felt as if he was trying to say that success is not in the hands of the pursuer, and I didn't like how that implied that we can't be successful unless we are born into it. 

While the examples presented in this novel (ice-hockey players, immigrant lawyers, the Beatles, and Bill Joy to name a few) were successfully (lol PUN) used to prove to the reader that one's success is majorly dependent on opportunity, I do not agree that circumstance can determine one's entire life. If an individual works hard and works smart, then he/she can achieve anything. 

Maybe I have the idealistic view of success that Gladwell warns us about at the beginning of the book, but I refuse to believe that success cannot be determined by a person's hard work and creativity. 

Logos (Analysis):

This book is highly logical and has none of the "feel good" emotions characteristic of fiction. It's constantly arguing and analyzing, and every page has some kind of rhetorical tool that further supports the author's point that society's perception of success is flawed. 

It has an abundance of both examples and illustrations, such as tables, lists, and the stories of actual successful people. 

The parallels drawn between the birthdays of the hockey players to their success was astounding and completely unbelievable, even with the presentation of undeniable facts. Did you know that if you were born closer to January 1st, you have a better chance of being a professional hockey player? Birthdays were used to explain why people like Bill Joy and Bill Gates were successful. They were used to argue that the younger a child is, the worse they perform at school (when compared to children in their grade). Initially, these claims may seem delusional and wild, but they are backed up with lots of evidence and logic. 

The list of birthdays correlates perfectly to the claim that professional hockey players have birthdays closer to January. And it makes perfect sense: if a child born on January 2nd is competing against another child born on September 2, the January-born child has 8 months longer to mature and to practice. 

Another analysis of successful computer programmers (Bill Gates, Bill Joy, Steve Jobs) correlates perfectly to who was born during the 1950s, when they could best take advantage of the developments in computer software by the time they were in high school and college.

Culure, Gladwell claims, is also a determinant of success. He effectively uses the example of pilots to show how once given the opportunity to improve as well as to analyze/understand one's culture, success is easier to achieve.
He specifically attributes the failure of the Korean pilots to how their cultural hierarchy limits direct communication. He proves that this is the reason for their failure by using multiple examples and shows how once the pilots understood that one specific part of their culture was incompatible with their vocation, they were able to change it and improve themselves.  

Ethos (Discussion Post):
(Psssst! This section is mostly for you, the reader. Feel free to respond!)

What is success? How is it defined?

Do you guys believe that it is impossible for one person, without the help of others, to achieve greatness?

Also, how long do you believe it takes a person to become an expert at a given subject? A lifetime? Or do you agree with Gladwell's claim that it takes 10,000 hours of practice that enables mastery?

Do you guys remember that English class where you first learned of Aristotle's appeals? Logos, ethos, and pathos? These words describe the methods by which authors get their point across and their opinion understood. Pathos describes how the author makes us feel and how he appeals to our emotions; the Pathos section is pretty much a compilation of my thoughts and responses to the many ideas in the book. Logos is how the author uses logic to sway the reader; in my RT post, Logos is the section where I break apart and analyze how exactly the author attempts to prove his/her point by using facts and logic. Ethos is the author's credibility, trustworthiness, morality- it is how his/her character influences how we, the readers, perceive the book. Instead of citing the author's many achievements/merits, I used this Ethos section to bring up the major ethical/philosophical issues that the book addresses so that I may gain insight as to what other readers think.