In a just world, Sailer would be the rich & famous one…
As usual with Gladwell, he manages to choose examples that undermine his own theory, even when his basic idea is fairly sensible. Yes, as Gladwell stresses, putting in ten thousand hours of practice is helpful at becoming really good at a trade, so it’s helpful to come from a privileged background where you can get in a lot of practice at a young age.
Nevertheless, while the Beatles got lots of practice at playing live in Hamburg, they aren’t the most famous rock group because they were an exceptionally great live band. In fact, they gave up playing live in 1967 and nobody much noticed.
Instead, they were the greatest songwriting and studio band.
Similarly, Bill Gates didn’t become the richest man in America by being a great programmer. In reality, he bought his strategically pivotal Disk Operating System from a Seattle programmer named Tim Paterson and then licensed it to IBM. No, Gates got rich by being a great monopolist—which is a more difficult career to practice far ahead of time.
Yes, one member of the Beatles was meritocratically chosen: Ringo, because he was the best professional drummer in Liverpool. The other three came together through luck.
By himself, with luck, I could imagine John Lennon putting together a band as good as, say, Creedence Clearwater (a group notorious for one star and three bar band quality guys). By himself, with every break, Paul McCartney might be Jeff Lynn of Electric Light Orchestra. [ME: that is so scarily true I got goosebumps!] With lots of luck, Harrison might be a studio guitarist with a fine reputation among insiders as a guy who could come up with something interesting to improve a pop tune.
BONUS: great comment…
Similar ideas abound in the wider world. Oil in Venezuela belongs to the people (of color naturally) who live on top of it. That they didnt know it was there, had no use for it, had no way of extracting it is not important, its theirs. The same goes for South African gold and so on.
And thats fine after all, no-one could really argue with that but then it turns out that…
Things that are the product of Europeans; the internet, telephone system, broadcast media etc. Those are for everybody, its all about access, a bit like clean air or water. If nasty whitey thinks he’s going to keep that bounty all to himself, he’s got to be taught otherwise. Access to these resources must be subsidized or even given away.
So, come on, lets be fair, where is my bar of subsidized gold, or a few barrels of oil?
And another one:
A white person is supposed to feel guilty about lynch mobs 80 years ago, yet cannot take credit for the humanitarian activities of the Quakers, for example, or the inventions of Ford and Edison. They can’t site the obvious and traceable achievements without kowtowing to invention fantasies of “minorities” so they don’t feel stupid and intellectually passive.
Something’s wrong with this picture and I got it years ago. I recall Tony Brown, on his Journal, going on about the nefarious minds (white of course) that invented the atomic bomb. Now I just knew that if some black person could be touted as having invented the Bomb, Tony’d be bragging about it. (Somewhere, somehow, I am sure some black person is being thus touted.) And if whites as a whole are guilty of the atomic bomb then the whole race can also take pride in just about everything that defines modern civilization including the smart clothes and the tv on which he was broadcasting his program and the car that took him to work.