This question arose for me at the end of the question period after Gladwell’s talk. Gladwell, who has three best sellers and is a writer for the New Yorker, is an extremely high quality journalist with a great eye for both trends and details. What shows up in Outliers is pretty clearly very important for social policy, as he is beginning to say.
His talk was before the typical ‘intelligent, reading audience’ in a large US city that isn’t New York City. At the end one man asked him if he had been contacted by President Obama. Gladwell laughed and explained that he didn’t do the research that he was reporting; Obama might contact him about writing a book, but the research was really from others (as he is very clear in the book). If you didn’t know much about research, it would be easy to miss this, I would bet, given Gladwell’s erudition and wit.
The difference between those who do the research and others who may make money off of it in various ways is, many think, very important when one thinks about research excellence and being a very good university (‘Tier One,’ as some jargon has it.) But how does one tell the difference and who can tell the difference?
For those of you in colleges and universities: do you think the people running the place can tell the difference? Remember, you do not have to give your real name!