Even though Malcolm Gladwell’s books are captivating and fun to read, he only uses carefully picked evidence to prove his points, and often leaves out crucial information that could potentially worsen his claim, which is frequently already weak.
In David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell explores the relationship between adversity and success.
David and Goliath is a book about “underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants.”, by Malcolm Gladwell. Throughout the story, Gladwell continually emphasizes that underdogs have a greater chance of winning against their more powerful counterparts. Gladwell touches upon points such as the effects of dyslexia on success, the consequences of California’s Three Strikes Law, and the origins of IKEA.
According to Joe Nocera, David and Goliath is a "bewildering sprawl." Gladwell seems to always find "the right study". And he uses lots of studies in his books. One such "study" is that of "a researcher at City University London", who found that "somewhere around a third of all successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic." Gladwell's whole chapter is based of of this study. This is equivalent to using the one piece of evidence that helps your point rather than accounting for the hundreds of pieces of evidence that don't.
Another "unconventional theory" that Gladwell makes in his book is the theory that one will become successful if one of their parents is dead. This is also based off of a study - “of the 573 eminent people for whom Eisenstadt [a researcher] could find reliable biographical information, a quarter had lost at least one parent before the age of 10 — and 45 percent had lost a parent before the age of 20." Gladwell tries to prove that there is a strong relationship between parental death and success. However, he just creates an awkward chapter that plays on a rather touchy subject.
Others are less harsh, giving David and Goliath praise and critique. A review by the Scholarly Kitchen praises the book for its expert storytelling, but reprimands it for its unclear and feeble claims:
Many stories are agonizing to read — there are stories about the civil rights movement, the religious conflicts in Ireland, and others. The moral of some of these stories can be murky at best.
The main problem with Gladwell's book is indeed the weak claims. He tries to teach us something that we probably already know - that underdogs can overcome misfortune by fighting differently and strongly. Perhaps this issue could be negligible if his claims were better formed - maybe instead of targeting how the underdogs fight this way, target why the underdogs fight this way. But we're probably overthinking it.
"If my books appear to a reader to be oversimplified, then you shouldn't read them: You're not the audience!" - Malcolm Gladwell
“Book Review — ‘David and Goliath’ by Malcolm Gladwell.” The Scholarly Kitchen, 6 July 2014, scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2014/02/26/book-review-david-and-goliath-by-malcolm-gladwell/
Chabris, Christopher. “Why Malcolm Gladwell Matters, and Why That’s Unfortunate.” Slate Magazine, 8 Oct. 2013, www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/10/malcolm_gladwell_critique_david_and_goliath_misrepresents_the_science.html.
“David and Goliath.” media.agonybooth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/05232200/David-vs-Goliath.jpg.
Nocera, Joe. “Killing Giants.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Oct. 2013, www.nytimes.com/2013/10/13/books/review/malcolm-gladwells-david-and-goliath.html.