David And Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
What are advantages?
What is the inverted U-shaped curve?
And why was David’s defeat of Goliath NOT surprising?
Gladwell, has written another page turner. Not only did I enjoy the stories- although some were very gruesome indeed, but I also appreciated how the theme of the book fit with “AntiFragile” and my interest in Systems and Complexity.
There are three sections to the book: The Advantages of Disadvantages (and the Disadvantages of Advantages), The Theory of Desirable Difficulty, and The Limities of Power. I even found the Notes in the Addendum are interesting.
Excerpts From My Kindle
We have, I think, a very rigid and limited definition of what an advantage is. We think of things as helpful that actually aren’t and think of other things as unhelpful that in reality leave us stronger and wiser. – location 238-40
Why did this happen? One answer lies in the politics of the educational world–in the power of teachers and their unions, and in the peculiarities of the way schools are funded. But that is not an entirely satisfactory explanation. The American public–and the Canadian public and the British public and the French public and on and on–wasn’t forced to spend all that money on lowering class size. They wanted smaller classes. Why? Because the people and countries who are wealthy enough to pay for things like really small classes have a hard time understanding that the things their wealth can buy might not always make them better off. – location 3483-88
So why don’t Americans cheat? Because they think that their system is legitimate. People accept authority when they see that it treats everyone equally, when it is possible to speak up and be heard, and when there are rules in place that assure you that tomorrow you won’t be treated radically different from how you are treated today. Legitimacy is based on fairness, voice, and predictability, and the U.S. government, as much as Americans like to grumble about it, does a pretty good job of meeting all three standards. In Greece, the underground economy is three times larger in relative terms than that of the United States. But that’s not because Greeks are somehow less honest than Americans. It’s because the Greek system is less legitimate than the American system. Greece is one of the most corrupt countries in all of Europe. Its tax code is a mess. Wealthy people get special insider deals, and if you and I lived in a country where the tax system was so blatantly illegitimate–where nothing seemed fair, and where our voices weren’t heard, and where the rules changed from one day to the next–we wouldn’t pay our taxes either. – location 3723-31