Gladwelling Freakonomics

By Al Schumann on Sunday August 19, 2012 03:47 PM

As a diversion from our regular deprogramming, here's how to write a Malcolm Gladwell column and/or produce a Freakonomic insight. Trawl through the public health stats to find something morbidly provocative and, from that, pick the areas with the highest and lowest incidences of it. Trawl through completely unrelated stats, such as numbers of baseball players or jazz musicians, and insinuate a correlation. But be careful! It has to be allusive.

Once that's done, it's time to change the topic. You need three anecdotes that show an interest in the human condition. Basically, anything will do. You can tie it all in to diabetic baseball-playing jazz musicians later on. Throw in something about leprosy and nightclub trends, if you can manage it, and switch back to the datamining.

Still with me? Good. You've reached the place where it's time for a "more in sorrow than anger" paragraph. It explains that your topic is one of the social phenomena few people have the time to research. Feel badly about it. Make sure to elaborately not blame anything specific. Keep not blaming until you're sure your targets are indicted.

That's it. Half-bake the results, serve cold and live large.

PS: you can produce publishable socio-biology this way too. Work in something about attractiveness and drop prurient hints if you want to make it really publishable.

Comments (6)

You left out the part about getting a sponsorship from the tobacco industry or such like to do the datamining and the speaking tour.

Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies.
Indeed, a tried and tested formula.
Al Schumann:

Sandwichman, I could kick myself. Sponsorship is the most important part of the process.

sk, the Hall of S.H.A.M.E is a joy to behold and the book-generator is addictive. I had to click through all of the iterations.


Thanks so much Al.

That fucking parasitic asshole. ...I loved the Exiled take down, it was sooooo High Time for it.

(not sure what to think about their current Glenn Greenwald piece, I love Glenn on the Droning Evil, but yeah, he's been very disappointingly quiet as regards the "Homeland" domiciled woes of those - who have never ever been on the totem pole, and those who may have made the very dirt level of the totem pole, but are losing their shirts - who can't/could never (unlike him) afford to relocate to another country)

Al Schumann:

Regarding Exiled and Greenwald, my curiosity is limited. I've learned the hard way to be prepared to find fatal flaws in any writer. If they have strengths, I'll read for that in spite of the flaws. I treat everything else they write skeptically and dismiss everything that's patently false.


Sounds sensible to me Al, I agree. And, I have to say I will always value Glenn Greenwald for his brave defense of Droning Victims all over the map, Iran, Bradley Manning, etcetera; as I value Exiled for their take down (back down to earth ..... from the stunning Economic Power Structures which prop them up) of Malcolm, Arianna, etcetera.

If we were all able to be knowledgeable of everyone's woes, all at one time, we would all kill ourselves (To my mind, folks like Malcolm and Arianna, seem to be only concerned with their own specific desires at the end of the day, unlike Glenn Greenwald.).

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