My last post brought up questions about author credibility and intended audience.  One question was the following: “Considering this kind of audience one Lundsford calls a ‘whole audience’, how effective is Gladwell’s appeal?  Which examples, anecdotes, studies, and cultural references are most effective for you as a member of his multiple or whole audience and which ones are least effective?” 

In criticism of Blink, David Brooks, an Op-Ed columnist, questions what he perceives as Gladwell’s assumption (at points in the book) “that our brains are like computers”.  In his 2005 review of Blink for The New York Times he asks,  “Isn’t it as possible that the backstage part of the brain might be more like a personality, some unique and nontechnological essence that cannot be adequately generalized about by scientists in white coats with clipboards?”

I  had a similar question regarding the omission, in cases, of the role of personality and personal preferences when reading about Kenna and the Pepsi Challenge, in particular, which to answer my own question from above were less effective examples for me as part of Gladwell’s whole audience.  I guess I don’t particularly “like” being told why I “like” or don’t “like” something.  I’m aware, for example, that there can be very talented musicians who I can appreciate as talented, but who are not my particular cup of tea, so to speak.  Maybe I just don’t have a preference for their style of music.  For me, no amount of, for lack of better words, “brain science” could prove that all of my preferences can be reasoned out or generalized about in all cases.

 Now, this is not an endorsement for any product, but I LOVE Coke and I dislike Pepsi.  I recognize this as a personal preference, and I know some people feel the opposite.  I would like to think that no matter how many times market researchers tried to trick me, even if I had to choose based on a hundred samples, I would pick Coke each time, although this, of course, would not be consistent with the group research.  Even if I didn’t for reasons that have to do with the difference between two samples and multiple samples or any other trickery, to me, in my day to day life, this means very little because if I was in a restaurant and the server gave me Pepsi instead of Coke, I would know,  I would not like it regardless of the reason, and I would not drink it.  I know market research is expensive and important for companies because they are looking to make the most profit, but for me, pretty much the only thing Pepsi could do to make me like it better is make it exactly like Coke, and what would be the point of that?

Were there examples that left you feeling like you were being unfairly characterized, defined, or grouped or any parts of the book that are not working for you as much as others for any number of reasons?

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