Gladwell Logic: There Was War Before Nuclear Bombs Existed, Thus Nukes Have No Impact On War
from the make-your-own dept
In what can be considered impeccably poor timing, last fall, Malcolm Gladwell penned a silly article in the New Yorker, insisting that social media is useless for revolutions or civil actions because it doesn’t involve real personal connections, but only weak ones. Of course, in the months immediately following Gladwell’s piece, we’ve seen massive protests show up all over the Middle East, with nearly all of them making significant use of social networking tools for organization. And while I agree that it’s silly to give too much credit to social networks, it’s undeniable that such things have become a key tool used by protestors these days, and almost certainly has helped their ability to organize and disseminate necessary info.
All of that might make a lesser man reconsider the original faulty premise. But not Gladwell. Not only is he standing by his initial thesis, he’s backing it up with the intellectually void argument that because people organized and toppled governments prior to Twitter, it means that Twitter isn’t a big deal in these protests and regime changes:
I mean, in East Germany, a million people gathered in the streets of Berlin. They were – the percentage of people in East Berlin in East Germany who even had a telephone in 1989 was 13 percent, right?
So, I mean, in cases where there are no tools of communication, people still get together. So I don’t see that as being a – in looking at history, I don’t see the absence of efficient tools of communication as being a limiting factor on the ability people to socially
In other words, if something happened before a technology came about, then technology has no impact on it later on. This is laughably bad logic. Just because something happened without technology X, doesn’t mean that technology X has no impact on it. Of course, this has now created something of a meme on Twitter, kicked off by Jeff Jarvis, called #GladwellLogic, in which you try to apply that same logic to other things. Jarvis kicked it off by pointing out:
#GladwellLogic: People were smart before there were books, therefore books don’t make us smarter.
It’s not hard to come up with your own examples:
- #GladwellLogic: Wars happened before there were nuclear weapons, submarines, machine guns or airplanes. Therefore, none of those things impact war.
- #GladwellLogic: People got from point A to point B before there were cars. Therefore, cars have no impact on transportation.
- #GladwellLogic: People produced stuff prior to there being electric lighting. Therefore, lightbulbs had no impact on productivity.
- #GladwellLogic: People made music before machines could record it. Therefore, recorded music had no impact on music.
Try and create your own…