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Posts Tagged ‘paradigm shift

Performance criteria? Are we designing for mankind?

What could be the Human Factors performance criteria?

Note: Re-edit (Human Factors in Engineering, Article #38, written in March 31, 2006)

Performance” is the magic answer offered by university students to questions like “What is the purpose of this course, of this method, of this technique, or of this design?”

Performance is what summarizes all the conscious learning in the knowledge bag, for lack of meaningful full sentences available in the language to express clear purposes.

It takes a couple of months to wean the students from the catch word “performance” and encourage them to try thinking harder for specificity.

There is a hierarchy for this abstract notion of “performance”.

The next level of abstraction is to answer: “What kind of performance?“.

The third level should answer: “How these various performances criteria correlate?  Can we sort them out between basic performances and redundant performance criteria?”.

The fourth level is: “How much for each basic performance criterionCan we measure them accurately and objectively?”

It seems that every discipline has created for itself a set of performance criteria and they are coined in stone, so that an insertion of another element into that set, is like a paradigm shift in its field of science.

If you prompt a business or engineering university student to expand on the meaning of “performance”, when supported by a specific example, it might dawn on him to spell out another piece of jewels such as: “max profit”, “minimize cost”, “improve quality”, “increase production”, “save time”, or “increase market share”.

In order to reach a finer level of specificity we need to define functionally.

For example, what “max profit” means?  A string of monosyllables rains from everywhere such as: “increase price”, “cut expenditure”, “sell more”, and again “improve quality”, “save time”, or “increase market share”. 

If we agree that profit is a function of market share, price, expenditure, added values of products, and marketing services then we can understand what could be the basic criteria and which criteria dependent on the basic ones.

How can a business improve performance?

How can it make profit or cut costs? 

Should the firm layoff redundant employees, force early retirement, dip in insurance funds, contract out product parts and administrative processes, eliminate training programs, scrap off the library or continuing learning facilities,…

Or streamline the design process, reduce advertising money, abridge break times in duration or frequency, cut overhead expenses such as control lighting and comfort of the working environment, stop investing in new facilities…

Or firing skilled workers, settling consumer plaintiffs out of court, searching for tax loopholes, or engineering financial statements?

How can a business increase its market share? How can it survive competitors and continually flourish?

How can a firm improve products for the quality minded engineers?

Should it invest on the latest technological advancements in equipment, machines, and application software, or should it select the best mind among the graduates…

Or should it establish a continuing education program with adequate learning facilities, or should it encourage its engineers to experiment and submit research papers, or should it invest on market research to know the characteristics of its customers…

Or should it built in safety in the design process, or perform an extensive analysis of the foreseeable misuses of its products or services, the type of errors generated in the functioning and operation of its products and their corresponding risks on health of the users, or manage properly employees’ turnover…

Or care about the safety and health of its skilled and dedicated workers, or ordering management to closely monitor the safety and health standards applied in the company?

At the first session of my course “Human factors in engineering” I ask my class:  “What is the purpose of an engineer?

The unanimous answer is: “performance”.

What are the criteria for an engineer?  The loud and emphatic answer is: “performance”!

At the first session of my class I repeat several times that the purpose of the engineering discipline is to design practical products or systems that man needs and wants, that human factors engineers are trained to consider first the health and safety of end users, the customers, the operators, and the workers when designing interfaces for products or systems.

At the first session I tell my class that the body of knowledge of human factors is about finding practical design guidelines based on the capabilities and limitations of end users, body and mind, with the following performance criteria:

To eliminate errors, to foresee unsafe misuses, to foresee near-accidents, to design in safety operations, to consider the health problems in the product and its operation, to study the safety and health conditions in the workplace and the organizational procedures…

And to improve working conditions physically, socially, and psychologically, and to be aware of the latest consumer liability legal doctrines.

A month later, I am confronted with the same cycle of questions and answers, mainly: “What is the purpose of an engineer?”  The unanimous answer is: “performance”.  What are the criteria for a human factors engineer?  The loud and emphatic answer is: “performance”!

A few students remember part of the long list of human factors performance criteria, but the end users are still hard to recognize them in their conscious knowledge.

A few students retained the concept of designing practical interfaces or what an interface could be but the pictures of end users are still blurred.

I have to emphasize frequently that the end users could be their engineering colleagues, their family members, and themselves.

I have to remind them that any product, service, or system design is ultimately designed for people to use, operate, and enjoy the benefit of its utility.

Human factors performance criteria are all the above and the design of products or services should alleviating the repetitive musculo-skeletal disorders by reducing efforts, vibration…

And proper handling of tools and equipment, designing for proper postures, minimizing static positions, and especially to keep in mind that any testing and evaluation study should factor in the condition that a worker or an employee is operating 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, and for many years.

I tell them that any profit or cost cutting is ultimately at the expense of workers/employees, their financial stability, safety standards, comfort, and health conditions physically, socially, and psychologically

Whereas any increase in performance should be undertaken as a value added to the safety, comfort, and health of the end users and workers.

Tidbits and notes posted on FB and Twitter. Part 223

Note: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. I pay attention to researched documentaries and serious links I receive. The page of backlog is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains a month-old events that are worth refreshing your memory

Les Jobcenters in Germany fonctionnent a la maniere d’un service du travail precaire. Un million de recrues ont ete delivrer aux entreprises. Il y a 5 millions d’Allemans precaires qui touche 450 Euro par mois. The French are Not ready to adopt a similar program by Macron.

The big liar and ultra stupid warmonger: John Bolton, Trump new hire. In 2006, Bolton dragged and pressured Israel to resume its pre-emptive war on Lebanon for another 3 weeks , with the purpose of weakening Hezbollah. The plan failed miserably after 33 days of battles and Lebanon infrastructure, everywhere, was totally destroyed in that war by Israel jet planes. And Israel lost the war and begged Bush Jr. to work quickly on a cease fire.

Hassan Naser Allah, general secretary of Lebanon Hezbollah, mocked John Bolton after his appointment by Trump, in his speech recollecting the 2006 failed pre-emptive war of Israel: “I said that I have seen this face and bad mustaches, but where? And I recollected I saw it in a cartoon”. He meant The Simpson

I thought Trump was Not that religious: He keeps hiring those ultra Evangelical Zionist Fundamentalist (Pence, Pompeo and now John Bolton…). This religious movement believe like crazy that the Second Coming will take place when Jerusalem is turned over to the Jews.

Al Ghouta is over: Syria army liberated it from terrorist factions funded by Qatar, Saudi Kingdom, Turkey and USA. The terminal mistake of these factions is obeying the orders to shell the Capital Damascus.

If you feel familiar people are scared of you, probably you have a strong personality that put them to shame for Not taking any stand.

The term “paradigm shift” in field of sciences and sociology is synonymous with many civilization “blind spots” in mankind march toward higher levels of thinking, dignity and respect for human rights…

For various reasons such as maintaining structural hierarchies, preserving privileges, class struggle, religious and ideological dominance, preserving current knowledge and economic systems… societies maintained major Blind Spots that hindered its progress toward knowledge and equitable and fair rights to all the people.

During the French revolution of 1789, somehow the rights for women were totally forgotten in the equation of Liberty, Equality, and Human Rights. Historians prefer to attribute this neglect to the notion that women were Not an issue in this struggle, since societies were patriarchal in their structure for centuries and women managed to tacitly navigate the system in order to maintain sort of a power balance withing the family foundation…

Mind you that it was the women who marched on the Bastille prison on October 1789 and then on to Versailles where King Louis 16 and his family took refuge for more security from the masses.  

US women grabbed the right to vote in the 20’s after a long and arduous struggle of the Suffragists. This movement was successful as women from the highest ranks joined the fight.

Women led the labor movements in the two decades 1840-60 https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/led-by-women-us-labor-movements-1840-1860/

Ma 3endi moushkilat ma3 Sarkis Sarkis bi laa2i7at al Tayyar: saaken 7addi  bi zaat al share3 min 30 nenneh wa ma zaarnat. Al meshkeleh enno akhad mak3ad Nabil Nicola le2anno tofran (nazeef). Kanoun moufassal lal aghniya, wa ma farkat keef jaab al massareh

E7ssaass jameel enno Hezbollah karar yenkhoret fi moukafa7at al fassaad, wa al kouroud (sovereign debt) elleh ma elha taa2el, wa mounakassaat bil tardiyat

Badkon tesma7o lel sha3b yinakesh jadwa al kouroud al jadidat: Transparency, please

 

Notes and comments on FB and Twitter. Part 37

La CIA accapara l’ appareil d’ Etat du Guatemala en 1962 et le pays fut sous le choc de la terreur: Un calme absolu remplaca un mois de démonstrations

Le term revolutionnaire m’ est devenu dérangeant: on l’ emploie trop facilement et trop frequement. Comme attribuer a l’ emploie le plus ancient du monde de revolutionnaire.

En science naturel on a le term paradigm shift qui veut dire changer une notion ou une method dans la profession. En matiére de retenir le pouvoir, il n’ y a pas de paradigm shift: on n’ a pas reussi a changer la method et les techniques pour une duré assez longue pour établir sa validité

Le Marquis: J’aurais juré que vous étiez incredule. Le medecin: Que ne donnerai-je pas pour l’être

C’est vrai: les chansons disent que l’amour pouvait tout et c’est indeniable quand l’amour frappe á la porte. Mais tu ferais mieux de ne pas le croire

Les dimensions normaux du corps humain sont rare a trouver: le cul est trop grand pour le corps, et vice versa. Et la même chose pour l’autre sex

Tout pays est consideré petit si moins de 100,000 Km2. Le Liban est insignificant en grandeur (10,000 km2) mais le plus dense (600 par km2)

The invincible economic progress of China was emulated from Germany educational system, based on early apprenticeship for quality design and products

Parcequ’elle se nourit des sens, l’incredulité est plus resistante que la foi

Chaque President en Amerique Central et en Afrique a ses nouveaux prisonniers et les nouveaux émigrés. Les prisonniers relachés des prison n’ont jamais été jugés.

Israel is still applying British administrative detention laws against the Palestinians. Le droit n’a pas accés á ces prisonniers. No better than US terrorists activities in Central America against civilians.

84% de la population au Guatemala en 1970 n’avait pas le droit de vote: Ils était illetrés. 4.5% pouvait élire un President (un colonel)

En Amerique central, les militaires du Pentagon ont des function limités en temps de paix: Ils preparent des putch, destituent un President, fichent les “communists” á être éliminé, augmentent le budget militaire… Rien de plus.

Israel ordered by a tribunal to empty 12,000 tons of ammoniac in Haifa within 30 days. Israeli public are worried of Hezbollah decision of targeting it if Israel launch another pre-emptive war on Lebanon as in 2006 

Syrian regime Not in a hurry: Tadmor has fallen, Deir-el Zour pretty soon. All it wants now is to clean all these pockets of resistance around the main cities of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo.

Let Turkey and the USA take care of Rakka, a task they sincerely don’t want to be directly involved because they are Not trained for these kinds of wars. Only Syrian and Iraqi armies have acquired these skills and training.

The Taxis of Ain 3aar, who agreed on a single Lira, stop to give me sha2leh

La plaie de la fortune, pauvre mais reconnue, saigne toujours

Les livres que j’écrivais ne reposer sur aucune vérité poétique

Une famille qui n’a jamais été acteur ou victim, mais un temoin inutile qui avait souffert du tout.

Ce paradis terrestre de la desolation et de la nostalgie

J’ai été navire sans voiles et sans gouvernail: je ne pouvais naviger loin d’óu j’etais

Let’s have this experiment: censuring “incha2allah” from all movies and observe if the meaning of the story remains the same. Implicitly, most of the audience will add 4 times more “incha2allah than was censured: the vast majority of destiny-believers

Il m’aime, même laide, ce qui n’est pas rassurant. Quand jeune and fougeux?

Cet amour inconditionnel: Il ne me met pas en danger, il ne me magnifie pas, il est a ma disposition sans être un asservi

Quel age as tu mon garcon? 70 ans maman. Alors, tu mérites d’être orphelin a present

We can safety censure Incha2allah from our public discourse in our region: It won’t change much in our behaviour, but the illusion of probable change is important for our sanity

J’appartient á cette foule vieillisante, en route, main dans la main, avancant vers une destiné connue, qu’on veut oublier

Une femme crochéte tout au long de sa vie et laisse ses petites étendues de tissue, avec des motifs difficiles, qui ne servent a rien, ni a personne maintenant.

Un rien peut me faire douter de la cohesion des gens et du monde. Et si ce rien est nombreux et bien plus que rien?

Ceux qui croient au destin jugent les libre-arbitres. Et vice versa.

Le vent aride de la pauvrete me porte á divers embouchures, ayant la même âme du pauvre

Avant de bondir, le chat est le plus lent du monde

Quand les nuits se faisaient longues, la date de la fête “regarder le ciel”(mirar el ciel) était decidé et on devait être prêt pour la vérité

Sans la profusion des etoiles, on ne peut assimiler la force du vide

Apprendre a être une chamber noire ou tout le vaste univers passe par le trou miniscule de ta pupille.

La toux de vieux chien qui gache la jeunesse

Jaloux de mon intimité, ceux qui la percait s’attiraient des repliques cinglantes

 

Anti-Zionism does Not equal anti-Semitism: People in the Near East are catalogued Semitic too by the racist Western colonial powers

Someone please tell Hillary Clinton and the University of California

U.C. is at it again, with its deceptive attempt to thwart criticism of Israel.

. Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016

Last summer there was a flurry of activity in the University of California system as U.C. regents were pressured to suppress criticism of Israel on U.C. campuses.

One regent in favor of such silencing played a trump card: He threatened to bring his particularly well-connected partner in to add muscle.

The regent was wealthy developer Richard Blum, his wife is Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Here is what Blum said in September:

I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want.

Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.

So now a U.S. senator says she’ll use the power of her office to suspend undergraduates for speaking out against Israeli state policies?

Interesting read of her mandate.

Blum was particularly incensed because just a few months before, free speech and pro-Palestinian activists had won a victory.

As I wrote back then:

For a while it looked like on July 23 the regents of the University of California were going to adopt the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism and in some fashion or another put policies into place that would have a severe impact on what can and cannot be said about Israel on each of the 10 U.C. campuses, which together enroll some 230,000 students.

Those students, along with 190,000 faculty and staff, would all be constrained under the regents’ interpretation of the definition.

The decision would in fact be continuing a process that began in 2012, when the California House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism (HR35), and continued into this past spring, when the Senate passed a similar resolution (SCR35).

The stage was set, the momentum was there, activists and advocates on both sides were ready to march on the regents meeting in San Francisco and address the regents and U.C. president Janet Napolitano. (A former politician and a judge?

But just before the regents were to meet, it was announced that they had decided to drop the matter entirely and instead to have a discussion about “tolerance” in general at their meeting in the autumn.

Since the autumn there has been speculation as to what, exactly, the regents would vote on; how would “tolerance” be defined?

Well, now we know, and the document under discussion still shows the two main perspectives of the prior discussions. We see efforts to produce a broad and positive statement for tolerance, and also the fingerprints of those who wish to smuggle in a false and destructive equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, thereby making the University of California a place where any criticism of a certain state’s illegal policies is intolerable.

The manner in which this is done in the current draft is deceptive and underhanded.

In the main body of the text, the rightful condemnation of anti-Semitism is clear and unadorned: “In a community of learners, teachers, and knowledge-seekers, the University is best served when its leaders challenge speech and action reflecting bias, stereotypes, and/or intolerance.

Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the University. The Regents call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.”

Fair and good.

But in the introduction to the document we find the proposal for tolerance when it comes to anti-Semitism presented this way: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

This portion of the document, separated from the section where the proposals appear, is couched as a “contextual statement.” Thus a casual reader could endorse the proposal itself while being unaware that the entire framing of the discussion of anti-Semitism is being used as a cover for silencing voices protesting state policies that might include, among other things, the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and the building of illegal settlements, which have been publicly condemned by the U.S. State Department and which are part of a Zionist project.

What this means is that if the U.C. proposal passes, the U.S. State Department can protest illegal settlements and the Occupation as a whole, but students and teachers in the U.C. system cannot.

This sleight of hand has been called out by both activist groups and mainstream news sources such as the Los Angeles Times.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (disclosure—I am a member) states: “For the record, we wish to underscore that criticisms of Zionism are co-extensive with the history of Zionism and have from the start included Jewish voices from a variety of political and religious orientations. The inclusion of such a broad category as either intolerant or bigoted represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the political viewpoints critical of Zionism.

Many political positions, including those that favor Palestinian rights, statehood, and political self-determination, can be considered anti-Zionist although they comply with internationally accepted norms of human rights and principles of democratic self-governance.”

The Los Angeles Times editorial notes that the document

conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and says both are forms of discrimination that “have no place at the University of California.” It’s difficult to read that as anything other than a warning to those students or faculty members who have fundamental disagreements with the state of Israel. ..

The equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism might also make it easier to stigmatize protests against Israeli policies — particularly the treatment of Palestinians — even if they don’t actually oppose the idea of a Jewish state.

Pro-Palestinian activists on campus are right to fear that such a statement would target their advocacy even when it doesn’t involve anti-Semitic language or harassing behavior.

This issue is not a matter of splitting hairs; it goes to the heart of issues of free speech, and the exercise of power to suppress certain types of political expression while letting others flow freely.

What is most telling about this latest episode is the tactic being employed. Faced with substantial public pressure from grass-roots activists, the regents’ working group chose this back-door route to insert its insidious equation. Now it has been called out, and we should be watching carefully which way the regents will move.

What is happening in California might well serve as an index to how these issues will play out on the national scene.

The position of at least one of the two front-runners in the presidential elections is crystal clear. Hillary Clinton has consistently been one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.

What is most troubling, however, is the fact that she has come out vocally as someone who will, in her own words, make “countering BDS a priority.”

In a letter to potential donors she uses exactly the same equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism that we find in the U.C. document:

I am writing to express my alarm over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction [sic] movement, or “BDS,” a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges.  I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority.

I am seeking your advice on how we can work together—across party lines and with a diverse array of voices—to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel….

I am also very concerned by attempts to compare Israel to South African apartheid.

Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival.  Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world—especially in Europe—we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

And on Monday, in her appearance before AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Clinton doubled down on her support of Israel.  As CommonDreams reports:
During the address, Clinton vowed to take the U.S.-Israel relationship to “the next level”—a level which seemingly includes more war and imperialism, few, if any, rights for Palestinians, and definitely no economic boycotts of Israel….
Later, Clinton doubled down on her previous pledge to dismantle the growing international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, linking the campaign against Palestinian apartheid to anti-Semitism, saying “we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
In a statement to Common Dreams, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the speech “is a reminder of the current limits of the mainstream discourse on Israel, which rely on racist and Islamophobic tropes to justify unquestioning support for Israel.”

“From Democrats to Republicans, the message is the same,” Vilkomerson continued. “More arms for Israel, a stronger relationship between Israel and the U.S., no mention of Palestinian rights, and no recognition of the impossible contradiction of being both democratic and Jewish when the state is predicated on maintaining systems of unequal rights and rule by military occupation.”

This is deeply troubling, especially as the Palestinian cause has now been established as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our age.  Education on this issue therefore needs to be rigorous, debated, argued, in order for us to make informed decisions and take meaningful action.

The suppression of ideas is anathema to the university, but this is exactly what is being suggested by reputed leaders in education and politics, all under this deceitful equation.

Stating the obvious, but oh so cleverly

Malcolm Gladwell is a cerebral and jaunty writer, with an unusual gift for making the complex seem simple and for seeking common-sense explanations for many of the apparent mysteries, coincidences and problems of the everyday.

He is also an intellectual opportunist, always on the look-out for a smart phrase or new fad with which to define and explain different social phenomena.

In his first book, The Tipping Point, he studied events such as crime waves and fashion trends and settled on an arresting metaphor to explain why they happen. ‘Ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread just like viruses,‘ he wrote, suggesting that we contaminate and infect one another with preferences and recommendations, until we reach a ‘tipping point’, after which a social epidemic becomes contagious and crosses a threshold to reach saturation point.

The tipping point: who does not now use this phrase to describe a moment of definitive transition? (‘Tipping point’ seems to have become this generation’s ‘paradigm shift’, a phrase popularised by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The success of the book, which began as an article in the New Yorker, the magazine for which he works as a staff writer, propelled Gladwell into the realm of super-consultancy. He has since become a lauded pontificant and ideas progenitor on the international lecture circuit.

He is the go-to man for a corporate business elite seeking to understand the way we live, think and consume today.

It helps that with his wild, unruly curls and wide-eyed gaze, Gladwell has the look of an übergeek.

He seems to have absorbed one important lesson of the consumerist culture he deconstructs – that the image you project is paramount; in effect, he has made himself, superficially at least, into a brand.

If you didn’t know he was a writer and journalist, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he was a leading operator at Microsoft or Google. As it is, he’s a kind of literary Bill Gates, a guy so far ahead of the rest of the pack that you never quite know what he will do next.

What is an outlier?

The word may not be a neologism but I have never heard anyone use it in conversation. According to one dictionary definition, an outlier is ‘something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body’.

But Gladwell uses the word with more metaphorical flexibility. For him, an outlier is a truly exceptional individual who, in his or her field of expertise, is so superior that he defines his own category of success. Bill Gates is an outlier and so are Steve Jobs of Apple, Robert Oppenheimer and many others Gladwell speaks to or writes about as he seeks to offer a more complete understanding of success.

The trouble with the book is that Gladwell is ultimately engaged in a long argument with nobody but himself. Throughout, he defines his position against a floating, ubiquitous, omnipotent ‘we’; a Greek chorus of predictable opposition and received opinion. ‘There is something profoundly wrong with the way we look at success,’ he writes.

‘We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don’t matter at all.’ And so he goes on.

These assumptions can be irritating, since who is this naive, unquestioning, plural intelligence identified as ‘we’?

Do we in wider society really believe that outstanding success, in whichever field, is achieved without extraordinary dedication, talent and fortuitous circumstance, as Gladwell would have it?

Do we really take no account of the sociopolitical context into which someone was born and through which they emerged when we attempt to quantify outlandish achievement?

Do we really believe that genius is simply born rather than formed? Gladwell wants his readers to take away from this book ‘the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are’.

But I don’t know anyone who would dispute this.

The world for Gladwell is a text that he reads as closely as he can in seeking to decode and interpret it. He is adept at identifying underlying trends from which he extrapolates to form hypotheses, presenting them as if they were general laws of social behaviour.

But his work has little philosophical rigour. He’s not an epistemologist; his interest is in what we think, rather than in the how and why of knowledge itself.

There is also a certain one-dimensional Americanness at work: many of his examples and case studies are American and he spends rather too much time in New York, at one point even riffing at length about the founder of the literary agency that represents him.

The book would have been more interesting if he’d roamed wider and travelled more, if it had been more internationalist in ambition and outlook.

However, it’s still fun to follow Gladwell on his meandering intellectual journeys, even if the conclusions he arrives at here are so obviously self-evident as to be banal. Even when he is not at his best he is worth taking seriously.

He has a lucid, aphoristic style. His case studies are well chosen, such as when he writes about the birth dates of elite ice hockey players and discovers a pattern: most are born in the first three months of the year.

His range is wide, and he writes as well in Outliers about sport as he does about corporate law firms in New York or aviation. Little is beneath his notice.

One last thing, as Gladwell might say. There’s perhaps another way of reading Outliers and that’s as a quest for self-understanding, since the author himself is obviously an outlier. In seeking to find out more about how other people like him came to be who they are and to occupy the exalted positions they do, he’s also indirectly seeking to learn more about himself, about how he came to be who he is: the smartest guy at the New Yorker, with the big ideas and the lucrative book deals.

Jason Cowley is editor of the New Statesman. His book The Last Game: Love, Death and Football will be published in April 2009.

Note: I have reviewed extensively most of Gladwell books, (to my knowledge) and I enjoyed the read and the ideas.

Cherry picking tendency and Feature-Positive Effect

And the deceitful checklist

The Absence of a feature is much harder to detect than its presence: We do place greater emphasis on what exist than on what is absent.

What exist means a lot more than what is missing.

For example, we fail to appreciate the absence of wars or when we arrived safely as we reach home.

For example, articles, particularly scientific articles that “confirm” a hypothesis are overwhelmingly readily published than those that “disprove” the hypothesis as false.

Actually, no Nobel prize was awarded to scientists who proved a hypothesis was false!

Although both confirmation and falsification of a hypothesis are scientifically valuable and valid in the same rank of importance.

Actually, disproving a hypothesis is the basis for any paradigm shift in every disciple.

Otherwise, our knowledge will be stuck in the Medieval Age.

It is well known that it is our belief system that is the real hindrance to progress and change.

How can you change paradigms if not by proving wrong what is already accepted as “true”?

All disciplines brag of their outcomes.

And the professionals are well-equipped to tell us what worth it did to mankind.

And yet, the professionals always fail to tell us what they didn’t achieve, or had gone wrong, just to show us how indispensable their methods are.

This is the Pure Cherry picking tendency.

For example, drug researchers and producers of antibiotics are celebrated while the huge success of anti-smoking activist campaigns is ignored.

Administrative departments in public and private institutions never communicate what they could not achieve for the institution.

Have you ever wondered “what happened to the left-over cherries?” These far more frequent failed projects and missed goals?

Have ever attempted to double-check targets instead of computing to the nearest cent cost/benefit accounts?

Mostly, the original goal fade while tending to what is tangible and easy to compute and collecting data.

Mostly, what we do is shoot an arrow and then draw a bull’s eye around our target.

Read: The Art of Thinking Clear

For example


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