In a recent interview, the writer Malcolm Gladwell said that one of his goals as an author is “to get people to take human psychology seriously and to respect the complexity of human behavior and motivations.” Gladwell, who has been a staff writer at The New Yorker for more than two decades, could offer a master class in the analysis of human behavior and the complexities of our decision-making processes. Over the years, he has written about topics as varied as the neurological causes of violent crime, the evolution of criminal profiling, the invention of the birth-control pill, and the psychology behind religious fanaticism. He has also written six books, including “The Tipping Point” and “Blink.” His latest book, “Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know,” is a provocative look at the detrimental ways in which we often misconstrue the motivations and intentions of others.
This week, we’re bringing you a selection of Gladwell’s pieces from the magazine. In “The Coolhunt,” he follows the path of two fashion “coolhunters” as they discover and forecast cultural and consumer trends. In “The Tweaker,” he examines the editorial genius of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple. In “The Talent Myth,” Gladwell recounts the failings of Enron’s corporate culture and writes about the role of talent and virtuosity in the workplace, and, in a piece from 1999, he considers what sets physical geniuses apart from other people. In “Thresholds of Violence,” he reports on the epidemic of school shootings across the United States. Finally, in “Troublemakers,” he investigates the unconscious biases that lead to racial profiling. Gladwell’s writing offers a fascinating look at many of our entrenched systems and distinctive phenomena; we hope that you enjoy these glimpses into a curious mind at work.
Who decides what’s cool? Certain kids in certain places—and only the coolhunters know who they are.
“The Physical Genius”
What do Wayne Gretzky, Yo-Yo Ma, and a brain surgeon named Charlie Wilson have in common?
“Thresholds of Violence”
How school shootings catch on.
The real genius of Steve Jobs.
“The Talent Myth”
Are smart people overrated?
What pit bulls can teach us about profiling.