January 13, 2014

#MalcolmGladwell can gladly rot in a secular hell

If there were a hell, Malcolm Gladwell could gladly rot in it.

I knew, with his appearance on Glen Beck's show, that he had jumped the shark. Other reviews of his new book pretty much indicated that his pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-critical thinking had become even more pseudo recently.

But, this interview with him in an online Christian magazine is a straw too far.

And non-Gnu Atheists who still have a benighted view of him should probably rethink.

Indirectly, by indicating that forgiving comes from "weapons of the spirit," he's peddling some version of the "no morality without god" idea. True that he doesn't say forgiving comes ONLY from that, but, given that the book is in part about his reconversion, and ideas he's gained from that, I am taking that ONLY as a reasonable inference. That's reinforced by a comment like this:
What I understand now is that I was one of those people who did not appreciate the weapons of the spirit.
Because, before what we today call religion was formed, nobody could forgive anybody, right?

But, that's not all.

The interview points out how utterly vapid he has now become in general. Here's a sampling.
Why are so many successful entrepreneurs dyslexic? Why did so many American presidents and British prime ministers lose a parent in childhood?
Gladwell, in the interview, and in general, presents no statistics to back up his blank-check assertions. What's "so many"? Ten percent? Twenty? Thirty? Tell us, Malcolm, then give us some more details.

Back to that second rhetorical question, though.
Why did so many American presidents and British prime ministers lose a parent in childhood?
Uhh, because before 1900, the average life expectancy was below 50 and a lot of women died in childbirth?

Beyond that, being an orphan is no guarantor of spiritual enlightenment in general, nor of general life success.

Hell, Gladwell, let's just go to Rumanian orphanages then, and look for our next popes, our next UN Secretary General, etc., etc. If Rumania doesn't work, Rwanda, Cambodia and other places will be glad to put your insipidness to the test.

What's next? "Brightsided: The Orphan's Manual to a New Life"? 

Or, given his previous shilling for Big Tobacco: "Smoke if You've Got 'Em and Give Your Parentless Children a Whole New Life."

And, speaking of non-Gnu Atheists, to work

That leads me to riff to the battle/schism between Gnu Atheists and  Skeptics™. I know a few of the latter who think that, if Gladwell's not great, he's at least not bad.

Seriously?

I encourage a lot of rethinking. Anybody, whether on general intellectual matters or general moral ones, among broad-minded thinkers, who can give Gladwell even a "not bad" has a variety of critical thinking I don't want. 

Next thing you know, he'll be turning up as a 2016 GOP campaign consultant. 

And no, I'm not joking. Given that his Big Tobacco background reflects larger connections, and work history, in the conservative think tank shark tank, this seriously would not surprise me.

(Note: The cult of Gladwell is another reason I'd gladly help Deadspin with its desire to kill off Bill Simmons.)

Beyond this, per the website? I'm about sick of the "intentionally living" phrase. To some degree, at least from some people, it's become a spirituality superiority bit of word candy.

Assuming he picks it up on Twitter, this ought to give Yasha Levine some fun. 

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