Notes & Quotes: What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell

The following are my favorite quotes from Malcolm Gladwell's What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures.
  1. The trick to finding ideas is to convince yourself that everyone and everything has a story to tell.
  2. It's the people in the middle who do the actual work in the world.
  3. Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade.  It succeeds of fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else's head.
  4. The object that sold best was the one that sold itself.
  5. I know how to ask for the money.  And that's the secret to the whole damn business.
  6. "No amount of observations of white swans can allow the inference that all swans are white, but the observation of a single black swan is sufficient to refute that conclusion." David Hume
  7. There is more courage and heroism in defying the human impulse, in taking the purposeful and painful steps to prepare for the unimaginable.
  8. The products and the commercial messages with which we surround ourselves are as much a part of the psychological furniture of our lives as the relationships and emotions and experiences that are normally the subject of psychoanalytic inquiry.
  9. Every time a woman gets pregnant and bears a child, her lifetime risk of ovarian cancer drops 10%.
  10. When we love someone, we fulfill everything about them.
  11. In our zeal to correct what we believe to be the problems of the past, we end up creating new problems for the future.
  12. Panic is the opposite of choking.  Choking is about thinking too much.  Panic is about thinking too little.  Choking is about loss of instinct.  Panic is reversion to instinct.  They may look the same, but they are worlds apart.
  13. "Under certain circumstances, changes that appear to make a system or an organization safer in fact don't.  Why?  Because human beings have a seemingly fundamental tendency to compensate for lower risks in one area by taking greater risks in another." Gerald Wilde
  14. If you are the type of creative mind that starts without a plan, and has to experiment and learn by doing, you need someone to see you through the long and difficult time it takes for your art to reach its true level.
  15. This is the final lesson the late bloomer: his or her success is highly contingent on the efforts of others.
  16. Sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it's just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table.
  17. Eric Hanushek, an economist at Stanford, estimates that the students of a very bad teacher will learn, on average, half a year's worth of material in one school year.  The students in the class of a very good teacher will learn a year and a half's worth of material.  That difference amounts to a year's worth of learning in a single year.
  18. Of the five quarterbacks taken in round one of the 1999 draft, Donovan McNabb, the only one of the five with a shot at the Hall of Fame, had the lowest Wonderlic score.  And who else has IQ scores in the same range of McNabb?  Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw, two of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.
  19. Feedback -- a direct, personal response by a teacher to a specific statement by a student -- seems to be most closely linked to academic success.
  20. Test scores, graduate degrees, and certifications -- as much as they appear related to teaching prowess -- turn out to be about as useful in predicting success as having a quarterback throw footballs into a bunch of garbage cans.
  21. If you make a great number of predictions, the ones that were wrong will soon be forgotten, and the ones that turn out to be true will make you famous.
  22. The Fundamental Attribution Error - to fixate on supposedly stable character traits and overlook the influence of context.