It’s like pizza, even when a Malcolm Gladwell book is bad, it’s still pretty good. You don’t need to know what it’s about to know what it’s like; Gladwell culls interesting sources to prove his thesis through anecdotal examples in an accessible and engaging way. The hard part here is that that thesis is unclear and there’s not really enough to support his case.
The idea that much of racism or prejudice is a matter of talking to others from a different frame of reference than yours is just a little too thin to hold water, so I think Gladwell was trying to take some interesting ideas about how we approach strangers and subject others to biases we wouldn’t impose on ourselves and create a larger statement about human nature and how we interact, and couldn’t quite make it work.
Which is a shame, because the implicit biases that we have about others and the framework we impose on strangers is interesting enough without having to stretch to say “this is how racism happens.” The chapter on Sandra Bland and the officer arresting her just not reading each others’ cues right? Not buying it. Neither was the law; he was fired for his handling of the situation. We don’t need to have a “when she did X he thought Y” analysis.
Also, I was slightly amused that when taking a letter substitution test (where you fill in blanks on a series of words) that was designed to illustrate bias (your choices are random, but others’ clearly mean something about themselves), I kept making bougie food words and thought “yep, I WOULD do that” and disproved Gladwell’s point before he made it.
But this was entertaining and informative, even if it reached too far in its scope.