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The Tipping Point

Posted on

The Tipping Point

Current Status:
In Season

We gave it a B+

What do teenage smoking and New York City crime rates have in common? According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, they’re examples of social epidemics, which he believes happen for the same reason viral epidemics happen: They start small, infect a tiny group, and then, via certain types of people and behavior, spread. And at some point, they go from containable to out of control. In the language of epidemiology, this point is the tipping point, and the implication is huge: If ideas and social behavior act like viruses, then all you have to do to infect the world with your ideas is get them, somehow, to tip. Gladwell’s narrative voice is so chummy and seductive, it’s easy to get drawn into his worldview. Still, he tries too hard to create a new paradigm, and — other than suggesting lower nicotine levels in cigarettes — he doesn’t actually come up with ways to test his theory. B+