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Copy of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

How an Idea Becomes an Epidemic

Vanessa Rasmussen

on 9 January 2014

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Transcript of Copy of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

: Malcolm Gladwell

Date Of Publication:
February 2000 and January 2002

non-fiction, pop sociology/culture
Basic Information:
The argument presented in the Power of Context is that our inner states are the result of our outer circumstances. In other words, our actions and emotions aren't outwardly expressed because of our well-being; they are acted upon because of the influence of our environment.
Claim of the Power of Context
"What Zimbardo found out shocked him. The guards, some of whom had identified themselves as pacifists, fell quickly into the role of hard-bitten disciplinarians. The first night they woke up the prisoners at two in the morning and made them do pushups, line up against the wall, and perform other arbitrary tasks. On the morning of the second day, the prisoners rebelled. They ripped off their numbers and barricaded themselves in their cells. The guards responded by stripping them, spraying them with fire extinguishers, and throwing the leader of the rebellion into solitary confinement. 'There were times when we were pretty abusive, getting right in their faces and yelling at them,' one guard remembers. 'It was part of the whole atmosphere of terror.' As the experiment progressed the guards got systematically crueler and more sadistic. 'What we were unprepared for was the intensity of the change and the speed at which it happened,' Zimbardo says. The guards were making the prisoners say to one another they loved each other, and making them march down the hallway, in handcuffs with paper bags over their heads. 'It was completely the opposite from the way I conduct myself now.' another guard remembers. 'I think I was positively creative in terms of my mental cruelty.' After 36 hours, one prisoner began to get hysterical, and had to be released Four more then had to be released because of 'extreme emotional depression, crying, rage, and acute anxiety.' Zimbardo had originally intended to have the experiment run for two weeks. He called it off after six days. 'I realize now,' one prisoner said after the experiment was over, 'that no matter how together I thought I was inside my head, my prisoner behavior was less under my control than I realized.' Another said: 'I began to feel that I was losing my identity, that the person I call---, the person who voluntereed to get me into this prison (because it was a prison to me, it still is a prison to me, I don't regard it as an experiment or a simulation. . .) was distant from me, was remote, until finally I wasn't that person. I was 416. I was really my number and 416 was really going to have to decide what to do"(153-154).
Stanford Prison Experiment
" There is a very good example of the way Connectors function in the work of the sociologist Mark Granovetter. In his classic 1974 study 'Getting A Job,' Granovetter looked at several hundred professional and techinical workers from the Boston suburb of Newton, interviewing them in some detail on their employment history. He found that 56 percent of those he talked to found their job through a personal connection. Another 18.8 percent used formal means - advertisements, headhunters - and roughly 20 percent applied directly. This much is not surprising; the best way to get in the door is through a personal contact. But, curiously, Granovetter found that of those personal connections, the majority were 'weak ties.' Of those who used a contact to find a job, only 16.7 percent saw that contact 'often' - as they would if the contact were a good friend - and 55.6 percent saw their contact only 'occasionally.' Twenty-eight percent saw the contact 'rarely.' People weren't getting their jobs through their friends. They were getting them through acquaintances" (53-54).
The Power of Connections
Connector Quiz
"Algazi, Alvarez, Alpern, Ametrano, Andrews, Aran, Aranstein, Ashford, Bailey, Ballout, Bamberger, Baptista, Barr, Barrows, Baskerville, Bassiri, Bell, Bokgese, Brandao, Bravo, Brooke, Brightman, Billy, Blau, Bohen, Bohn, Borsuk, Brendle, Butler, Calle, Cantwell, Carrell, Chinlund, Cirker, Cohen, Collas, Couch, Callegher, Calcaterra, Cook, Carey, Cassell, Chen, Chung, Clarke, Cohn, Carton, Crowley, Curbelo, Dellamanna, Diaz, Dirar, Duncan, Dagostino, Delakas, Dillon, Donaghey, Daly, Dawson, Edery, Ellis, Elliot, Eastman, Easton, Famous, Fermin, Fialco, Finklestein, Farber, Falkin, Feinman, Friedman, Gardner, Gelpi, Glascock, Grandfield, Greenbaum, Greenwood, Gruber, Garil, Goff, Gladwell, Greenup, Gannon, Ganshaw, Garcia, Gennis, Gerard, Gericke, Gilbert, Glassman, Glazer, Gomendio, Gonzalez, Greenstein, Guglielmo, Gurman, Haberkorn, Hoskins, Hussein, Hamm, Hardwick, Harrell, Hauptman, Hawkins, Henderson, Hayman, Hibara, Hehmann, Herbst, Hedges, Hogan, Hoffman, Horowitz, Hsu, Huber, Ikiz, Jaroschy, Johann, Jacobs, Jara, Johnson, Kassel, Keegan, Kuroda, Kavanau, Keller, Kevill, Kiew, Kimbrough, Kline, Kossoff, Kotzitzky, Kahn, Kiesler, Kosser, Korte, Leibowitz, Lin, Liu, Lowrance, Lundh, Laux, Leifer, Leung, Levine, Liew, Lockwood, Logrono, Lohnes, Lowet, Laber, Leonardi, Marten, McLean, Micheals, Miranda, Moy, Marin, Muir, Murphy, Marodon, Matos, Mendoza, Muraki, Neck, Needham, Noboa, Null, O'Flynn, O'Neill, Orlowski, Perkins, Pieper, Pierre, Pons, Pruska, Paulino, Popper, Potter, Purpura, Palma, Perez, Portocarrero, Punwasi, Rader, Rankin, Ray, Reyes, Richardson, Ritter, Roos, Rose, Rosenfeld, Roth, Rutherford, Rustin, Ramos, Regan, Reisman, Renkert, Roberts, Rowan, Rene, Rosario, Rothbart, Saperstein, Schoenbrod, Schwed, Sears, Sheehy, Silverton, Silverman, Silverstein, Sklar, Slotkin, Speros, Stollman, Sadowski, Schles, Shapiro, Sigdel, Snow, Spencer, Steinkol, Stewart, Stires, Stopnik, Stonehill, Tayss, Tilney, Temple, Torfield, Townsend, Trimpin, Turchin, Villa, Vasillov, Voda, Waring, Weber, Weinstein, Wang, Wegimont, Weed, Weishaus" (39-40).
The Tipping Point Counterclaim
The Tipping Point: How an Idea Becomes an Epidemic
Who is He? Credibility?
"One of the things I'd like to do is to show people how to start positive
fashion designers
movie executives
epidemics of their own."
"In New Jersey, the philanthropist Sharon Karmazian bought three hundred copies of The Tipping Point and sent one to every public library in the state, promising to fund any ideas inspired by [Malcolm's] book. Within a few months, 'Tipping Point' grants totaling close to $100,000 had been given out to twenty-one different libraries. In Roselle, the public library is on a side street, hidden away behind shrubbery, and so the library got a grant to put up signs around town to direct people to the library. Another library used its grant to teach the Connectors among the group of seniors who use the library to surf the Net - betting they will draw in other patrons. Still another library bought Spanish-language books and materials, hoping to create a draw for an underserved community in their town."
"In California, Ken Futernick, a professor of education at California State University at Sacramento, says he was inspired by The Tipping Point to come up with an idea for attracting teachers to troubled schools. 'There is an interesting stalemate,' Futernick told [Malcolm]. 'Good principals say, 'I cant go off to a hard school unless I have good teachers,' and good teachers say, 'I won't go off to a hard school unless there is a good principal.' ... '[Futernick] asks teachers,' 'What would it take for you to go to one of these schools, in a very low income area, lots of single parents, not a safe part of town.' He went on. 'Salary incentives? They say maybe. Lower class size? They say yeah, maybe. All the things [Futernick] listed were sort of attractive, but [he] didn't get the sense that any one of them would be enough to get people to take the assignments.' ... But what would happen, Futernick wondered, if he changed the context of the request? His new idea... is for principals to be recruited for difficult schools and then given a year to put together a team of qualified teachers drawn from good schools for their new assignment - a team that would go into the new school together. On playing fields and battlegrounds, challenges that would be daunting and impossible if faced alone are suddenly possible when tackled in a close-knit group. The people haven't changed, but the way in which the task appears to them has.
Gladwell is a respected staff writer for the New Yorker and was formerly a business and science reporter at the Washington Post
author of # 1 national best sellers Outliers, Blink, The Tipping Point, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath
extensive research, facts, and statistics
use of prominently titled sources
elaborate bibliography
Counterclaim for the Power of Context
The counterargument to Gladwell's claim is that an individual's mental health is what drives him or her to live their lives on a day-to-day basis, leaving behind an imprint on the environment. Members of the National Insititute of Mental Health, such as Taylor, Shelley E. and Brown, Jonathon D., conclude that a person's mental health affects the cognitive-procession mechanisms, and when an individual has a disability, then the process is distorted into what sane people presume is the "negative" direction. The insane people think backwards: what's right is wrong and what's wrong is right, ulitmately making them favor the wrong decision. All in all, the wrong decisions that these mentally corrupt people make negatively affect the environment.
Claim for the Law of the Few
When a seedling of a trend has been discovered, it is not the amount of people that hear about it that makes it popular, it's the type of people that hear about it that make it popular. There are people in this world labeled as connectors who are the bridges between blueprints and social, physical, and intellectual epidemics. These people have many weak connections with others that enable them to pass on a message or trend faster and more adequately than the people who are good friends with a select group of people, eventually giving the idea or action the push it needed to become popular world-wide.
Counterargument for the Law of the Few
The common perception acted upon by telemarketers, advertisers, and every business in general is that the more people who encounter a business's product, the more successful that product will be. Food companies such as P.F. Chang's provide samples of their items in large wholesaleing corporations such as BJs or Costcos in hopes that a simple tasting of their product will greatly influence a person's decision of whether or not to purchase their product.
Claim for the Stickiness Factor
Counterclaim for the Stickiness Factor
The Tipping Point Claim
The Tipping Point is a vital point in time where an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a certain distinct threshold and spreads like a humiliating rumor. In order for an idea or product to become sensational, little, precisely targeted laws such as the Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context have to give the idea/action a push, ultimately giving it the edge it needs to become a world-wide phenomenon.
"Once you understand that context matters, however, that specific and relatively small elements in the environment can serve as Tipping Points, that defeatism is turned upside down. Environmental Tipping Points are things that we can change; we can fix broken windows and clean up graffiti and change the signals that invite crime in the first place. Crime can be more than understood. It can be prevented. There is broader dimension to this... We spend so much time celebrating the importance and power of family influence that it may seem, at first blush, that this can't be true. But in reality it is no more than an obvious and commonsensical extension of the Power of Context... Weird as it sounds, if you add up the meaning of the Stanford prison experiment and the New York subway experiment, they suggest that it is possible to be a better person on a clean street or in a clean subway than in one littered with trash and graffiti" (167-168).
The longer an idea or action stays with you the greater the chance you will be accustomed to the idea/action and spread it around, making the idea or action sensational.
When an idea or action becomes embedded into someone's memory, it doesn't automatically instigate a postive connotation. A person can remember things that bother or annoy them and try to push them to the back of their memory, avoiding the idea/action and not spreading it. Scientists have discovered that if a person finds a memory horrid or annoying enough that they will suppress it, thus disproving the claim that any type of publicity is good publicity.
It's not the little things that matter, it's the value of the product or idea that makes it sensational. A product, idea, song, music video, fashion trend, etc. would never become well-known unless it stood out from others of that kind. Something doesn't become an epidemic because of the environment it was brought up in or who presented it and how; it becomes valuable because of the hard work and sheer effort that went into producing the product.
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