Gladwell

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Essay I :
Gladwell argues that success is not the result of innate talent, but of practice and of being in the right place at the right time. Critically evaluate this argument. Malcolm Gladwel Analyses in his latest book Outliers , the circumstances that made some people successful . He shows another aspect of their self-made rise to success. Gladwell gives the definition of an outlier as an unusual person ‘classed differently from a main or related body’ (2008:3), in other words out of the ordinary. He argues that success is not in any case a matter of talent, but of practice, of social status, culture, and of being in the right place at the right time. The aims of this essay is to evaluate whether Gladwell’s argument are true, and how reliable are the evidence used to support his arguments. I will critically evaluate, and identify the type of evidence used by the author, which sometime tend to be unconvincing. This essay is organised into two great section. Each section present arguments and evidence used by Gladwell , an evaluation of these , and finally other examples and comparisons. The first section will argue about the fact that success is not the result of innate abilities but of practice. It will be illustrated through examples of the ‘10,000-Hour rules’, were individuals allocate a certain amount of time to become an expert. However Gladwell insist on the fact that practice is not the only way to become succeful, as being at the right place in the right time is important as well. Thus, the second section will present five arguments that support this idea. Firstly I will argue about the relative age effect through the examples of hockey players. Secondly, the demographical advantage will be presented through the example of ‘the seventy-five richest people’ and the example of successful American businessmen. Thirdly, I will talk about the family background argument with the example of the ‘entitlement (2008:105).Finally, I will present the argument of Ethnicity through the example of minority law student at the university of Michigan.

Gladwell present the correlation between innate talent and practice through examples stories. Indeed, the first example from his argument is the one considering the three group of violinist. The thirds group appears as the elite one because of the amount of practice allocated according to K. Anders Ericsson. The example of Mozart is then presented by showing the amount of time he have been practicing to become a prodigy. For those two examples he uses evidence from psychology studies and conclude that there is a ‘ten thousand hours’(2008:40) rule to become successful. Furthermore he uses approximations to confirm his argument, as he noted ‘ what’s ten years? It’s roughly what it takes to put in ten thousand hours of practice […] the magic number of greatness’ (2008:41). This approximation is without any doubt perplexing. Gladwell gives further exceptional example to defend his theory. Among them the example of the Beatles who practiced ten years before becoming very famous , which is again another confirmation of the ‘ ten thousands hours’ theory. To summarise, Gladwell pretends that there is no such thing as innate talent , but the a rule of ten thousands hours to become an expect. Galton (Cited in Ericsson, Krampe and Clemens, 1993) argues that eminent performance is determined by innate capacity and genetics, through his example of the human body. Gladwell is in fact choosing his evidence according to his opinion, which is actually not very objective. He uses Ericsson’s study of 1990 as evidence, whereas three year later the same author argued that sufficient amount of experience and practice does not lead to greatness (Ericsson, Krampe and Clemens; 1993). Moreover, the idea of ten thousands hours cannot be verified universally. Some individuals might need more time to reach the level of an expert, as well as the amount of time may differ according to the field involved....
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