Transcript00:07it’s a real pleasure to be here I’m I00:10was I’m acutely conscious of the fact as00:13I listened both to a previous speaker00:15and also the ones before that everyone00:18has been speaking about very00:19consequential and high-minded things00:21this morning and I’m not going to do00:23that00:23Oh in fact I intend to give what I’m00:27sure will be the most solipsistic talk00:30ever at a Google zeitgeist I simply why00:33want to talk about why on earth I00:35decided to say yes and come here here’s00:41a situation I am a writer part of what I00:44do to make my living is I go and give00:46speeches at conferences like this and I00:49get paid right as one would and it’s00:55that money that I use to to make my00:58living so how much is google paying me01:00for this zero it’s a company with what01:0450 billion dollars in the bank and they01:06don’t have a dime for poor little old01:08Malcolm now we could talk at length01:11about what this says about Google but I01:14that’s not what interests me what01:16interests me is what that says about me01:19why on earth would I say yes I’m just01:22such a circumstance why you know I’m I’m01:25busy my time is really valuable I why01:29did I fly all the way out here across01:32the country to give away my intellectual01:34property for free in fact wasn’t even01:37free I had to print out my speech this01:39morning in the business center and I was01:42just the bill cost me nine dollars and01:4587 cents it’s costing me to be here01:49now you can say that I came here because01:52there’s all kinds of interesting people01:53here which is true but it you know I01:56don’t mean to cast any aspersions any01:58aspersions on any of you but my life is02:00lousy with interesting people I got more02:02interesting people that I know too so02:04you could say well maybe I should have02:05come here I should come here because I02:06can make contacts that will help me you02:09know in the business world I’m not in02:10the business world I don’t need to meet02:12a VC I work out of my apartment if I02:15want to renovate my kitchen I’ll just go02:17to the bank for a loan02:18there’s no it doesn’t make any sense in02:20other words for for me to be here so why02:24did I say yes well the answer is that02:27that this conference is run by Google02:29one of the most prestigious and02:32successful companies in the world I02:35would not have agreed to speak for free02:37of a yahoo conference would I right so02:43in other words my decision to do02:46something that is not in my best02:47interest was caused by my association02:51with an elite institution and this is02:54what I want to talk about today it’s an02:57argument that I make in my new book02:58David and Goliath which in further proof03:01of how baffling my decision was to come03:03here is not available for sale at this03:05conference I like to call this problem03:10elite institution cognitive disorder or03:13OCD and it’s simply that elite03:17institutions screw us up in all kinds of03:19ways that were not always conscious of03:23and since the theme of this morning’s03:25session is imagine about a world I want03:27to try and imagine what the world would03:29look like if we freed ourselves of a03:32scourge of a ICD so I’m going to give03:36you a couple of examples of the ICD in03:38action the but let me start with a very03:42thorny question of of science and math03:46science and math education in this03:48country stem as we call it we have a03:51problem in turning out enough science03:53and math graduates right in this country03:56and it’s not for lack of interest by the03:58way among high school seniors lots and04:01lots and lots of high school seniors04:02want to04:03science in math degrees but04:04approximately half of them drop out by04:07the end of their second year so we have04:09a persistence problem in science and04:11math education in this country so the04:14question is why why does so many kids04:16drop out well the obvious answer is that04:18science and math are really hard and you04:22need to have a certain level of04:23cognitive ability to master those04:25subjects and we don’t have enough smart04:27kids right so so if you if that’s true04:34if science and math education is a04:37function of we should be able to see in04:40the statistics that persistence is a04:42function of your cognitive ability right04:44so let’s take a look I have Butler this04:46is the first time in my life I’ve ever04:48used PowerPoint this is like fantastic04:50moment for me I feel like I finally04:52joined the 20th century it’s really kind04:54of amazing04:55oh wow okay so this is a this is I’ve05:00just chosen Hartwick College as a proxy05:03for American colleges for totally random05:06reasons Hardwick is a small liberal arts05:08college in upstate New York and what we05:10have here is a distribution of math SAT05:13scores by among the people who are05:16intending to major in science and math05:19and what you can see is that there is05:21quite a wide range of native math05:25ability among the kids entering the05:28freshmen stem programs at Hardwick right05:31so what we would so what do we see when05:33we when we look at the who ends up05:36graduating with a stem degree what we05:39see is that at Hartwick College the kids05:43within the top third the top third SAT05:46scores end up getting well over half of05:48the stem degrees and the kids with the05:50bottom scores end up getting very few05:53the same degrees those kids over there05:55are dropping out like for all flies like05:58this would seem to suggest that our05:59original hypothesis that persistence is06:02a function of cognitive ability is true06:04and this one also we can also go further06:07we can say if this hypothesis is true as06:09we go to more and more selective06:12institutions we should see a ver06:14different pattern of persistence we06:16should see less kids dropping out06:18because the kids are all smarter right06:20so let’s go to Harvard these numbers06:23were a few years old but at Harvard you06:26can see that the bottom third of math06:28SAT scores among kids doing science and06:30math are equal to the top third at06:33Hartwick the dumb students at Harvard06:36are as smart as the smart students at06:38Hartwick so you’d think everybody at06:40heart at Harvard should be getting a06:42math and science degree right why would06:43they drop out everyone’s so smart what06:46do we see oh dear what we see is the06:50exact same pattern at Harvard that we06:52saw at Hardwick the smart kids are the06:55top kids are getting all the degrees the06:57kids at the bottom aren’t getting any to06:59be the dropping out like flies right07:01even though these kids are brilliant07:03right so what’s happening well clearly07:09what we’re seeing here is that07:13persistence in science and math is not07:16simply a function of your cognitive07:19ability it’s a function of your relative07:22standing in your class the function of07:24your class rank right those kids who are07:28really really brilliant don’t get their07:30math degree not because that is a07:32function of their IQ but as a function07:35of where they are in their class and by07:37the way if you look at any college you07:40want you will always see regardless of07:43the level of cognitive ability among the07:44students you will always see the same07:46pattern the kids who get the science and07:48math degrees are the ones in the top of07:50their class and the kids in the bottom07:52of their class never do look at over07:54that bottom third the bottom third chart07:59over there so the name given for this08:02phenomenon among psychologists is08:05relative deprivation theory and it08:08describes this exceedingly robust08:10phenomenon which says that as human08:13beings we do not form our self08:16assessments based on our standing in the08:18world we form our self assessments based08:22on our standing in the in our immediate08:24circle on those in the same boat as our08:28selves right so a classic example of08:30relative deprivation theory is which08:34kind of country which countries have the08:36highest suicide rates happy countries or08:39unhappy countries and the answer is08:42happy countries right if you’re morbidly08:46depressed in a country where everyone08:48else is really unhappy you don’t feel08:50that unhappy right you’re not comparing08:53yourself to the universe a whole08:54universe of people out there no you’re08:56comparing yourself to your neighbors and08:58the kids at school and they’re unhappy09:00too09:00so you’re so defined but if you’re09:02morbidly depressed in a country where09:05everyone is jumping up and down for joy09:07you are really depressed right that is a09:10very very very profoundly serious place09:13to be and so as a result you get that09:16sad outcome more often so what’s09:19happening at Harvard then is the kid in09:22the bottom third of his class at Harvard09:24does not say rationally I am in the09:2799.99% I love all students in the world09:30when it comes to native math ability09:31even though that’s true09:32what that kid says is that kid over09:36there Johnny over there is getting all09:38the answers right and I’m not I feel09:40like I’m really stupid and I can’t09:42handle math so I’m going to drop out get09:44a fine arts degree move to Brooklyn09:46we’re make fifteen thousand dollars a09:48year and break my parents heart right so09:53what is the implication of this the09:55implication of this is that if you want09:58to get a science and math degree don’t09:59go to Harvard right in fact we can run10:02the numbers on this mitchell chang at10:04UCLA recently did the numbers and he10:05says as a rule of thumb your odds of10:08graduating persisting successfully10:12getting a science and math degree fall10:14by two percentage points for every10:1710-point increase in the average SAT10:19score of your peers so if you’re a kid10:22and you have a choice between a few and10:26university of maryland is your safety10:29university maryland has 150 as on10:32average SAT scores are 150 points lower10:34at maryland that means your chance of10:37graduating with a stem degree from10:39maryland is 3010:41and higher than it would be at Harvard10:42right now so if you choose to go to10:46Harvard not Maryland you are taking an10:48enormous gamble you are since you’re10:50essentially saying this stem degree by10:52the way the most valuable commodity any10:54college graduate can have in today’s10:57economy I am going to take a 30% gamble11:01in my chances of getting that degree11:03just so I can put Harvard on my resume11:05is that worth it I don’t think so right11:09but how many kids given a choice between11:11Harvard and Maryland choose Maryland not11:15that many11:16why yes Edie now why does CIC D persist11:22if it’s so plainly irrational well I11:25think it’s because as human beings we11:27dramatically underestimate the cost of11:30being at the bottom of a hierarchy and11:34I’ll let me give you another really11:35remarkable example of this this is from11:37a paper that was just came out from a11:40guy named John to two economists John11:42Conley and Ally Cindy Ally under rather11:45they looked at graduates of PhD programs11:50economics PhD programs at American11:53universities and what they were11:54interested in was what is the11:57publication record of these graduates in11:59the six years after they took an12:02academic position so as you know the12:05principal way by which we evaluate12:06economists is how often how often and12:10how well do they publish so what these12:12guys did is they did a little algorithm12:13took the top economics journals and12:16weighted them according to their level12:18of prestige and came up with a number of12:21how many years of score in the six years12:23after graduation so we get this chart12:26here which you can see first of all look12:29at the 99th percentile so what this says12:31is the 90 the kids who are in the 99th12:34percentile of their PhD program at12:37Harvard MIT Yale Princeton Columbia12:39Stanford Chicago the 99th percentile12:41that’s what they publish the Harvard12:43students publish 4.31 journal articles12:47in their first six years after12:49graduation that’s amazing right12:52astounding number same with MIT12:554.7 3 all the way down the list what we12:58see here is that the best students at13:00the very best schools are extraordinary13:03and that comes as no surprise you just13:05saw Larry Summers here I don’t know13:08where he went13:08Larry Summers that’s Larry Summers right13:11brilliant genius13:12we knew that let’s look at the 85th13:17percentile13:17now the 85th percentile at these schools13:20these are schools that might take two13:22dozen PhD students every year so if13:25you’re in the 85th percentile in the MIT13:27economics program you’re the 5th or 6th13:30best student in your class that’s really13:32smart13:33ok the 85th percent student at MIT or at13:37Harvard’s to Harvard publishes basically13:39one paper in their first six years13:43versus 4.31 in the top student so the13:46gap between 1 and 5 is enormous right13:50it’s 5x now let’s go down to the 55th13:53percentile at Harvard so the 55th13:56percent at percentile at Harvard is the13:59let’s say the 12th best person at the14:04greatest economics program in the world14:07they could arguably say they are one of14:09the 20 top PhD economics students in the14:13world right look at their publication14:15rate point zero seven basically they’re14:18not publishing at all by any standard by14:20which we judge academic economists these14:22people are complete failures right now14:28I’ve picked flouse a schools14:33and I’ve started with Toronto which is14:35where I went to school so this is a14:37little a little masochistic moment where14:40I basically confess to how paltry my14:44academic pedigree is I’ve also picked bu14:47and then I’ve also picked nan top 30 is14:50simply all the schools that are so14:53terrible I can’t bring myself to name14:55them so we’ve we’ve aggregated them all14:58so these are schools that if your child15:00anyone in the soup if your child said15:03yeah we’re going to go to one of these15:04schools you would weep what do we see15:08here what we see here is that the 99th15:12percentile at these lousy schools15:15publish more than everyone at the top15:20schools except for the 99th percentile15:23right you see that look at Toronto 3.1315:26the only people who publish more than15:29the top student at Toronto are the top15:31students at those top seven schools15:32these the top student at Boston is15:35publishing three times more than the15:3980th percentile student at Harvard what15:44does this tell us15:45well it tells us that oh they’re before15:50I got there the guys who did this study15:51having done the study were so stunned at15:55what they were seeing at what they were15:57saying that they end their their article16:00with this whole thing about what on16:02earth is going on with Harvard but16:05here’s a school which is collecting the16:07most brilliant the most accomplished the16:11probably the best-looking graduate16:14students in economics imaginable I can’t16:17imagine the bar is that high but16:19nonetheless it presumably is a selection16:21criteria they guided them all together16:24and yet everyone except for the very16:26very best students is basically a flop16:28and they say I’m quoting them why is it16:31that the majority of these successful16:33applicants who were winners and did all16:36the right things up to the time they16:38applied to graduate school became so16:40unimpressive after they are trained16:43ah relief here’s the in this moment of16:45of Jen of genuine distress and the part16:49of these two economists are we failing16:51the students or are they failing us no16:56one’s failing anyone what you’re just16:59seeing is relative deprivation in action17:02right when it comes to confidence and17:04motivation and self-efficacy the things17:06that really matter when it comes to17:09making your way in the world relative17:12position matters more than absolute17:14position right the 80th percentile17:17student at Harvard looks at those kids17:19who are smarter than him and says I17:20can’t do it the number one student at17:23Missouri says wow I am lord of the manor17:27I’m going to go out and conquer the17:29world right so what does it mean well17:33what it means what it means first of all17:35when it comes to hiring it means you17:37should hire in the basis of class rank17:39and you should be completely indifferent17:41to the institution attended by the17:44applicant in fact we should have a17:45don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy for the name17:48of your undergraduate institution it’s17:51hurting us to know that doesn’t help us17:53and when you hear some institution some17:56fabulous Wall Street investment bank17:58some universities say we only hire from18:01the top schools you should say you moron18:04that’s the word that’s what the that’s18:07not the the previous I don’t know how to18:09go backwards on slide so no you don’t18:12want to hire from only the best higher18:14than the top stood students from any18:16school Under the Sun right and it also18:19means that when it comes if you have18:21kids going to college when it comes to18:23choosing your undergraduate institution18:26you should never go to the best18:28institution you get into never go to18:31your second or your third choice go to18:33the place where you’re guaranteed to be18:34in the top part of your class right so18:37why don’t we do that well why did I come18:41here when it was profoundly in my18:44self-interest not to write because when18:48we have an opportunity to join elite18:50institutions we are so enormous ly18:52flattered and pleased with ourselves18:54that we do things that are irrational18:56you
Twitter can’t do early oppostion organization in tyranical countries because Twitter is public.
Twitter was not a major force in Iran because organizers don’t want to give their strategy away with public messages.
Highlights from a PopTech Talk by Sociologist Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Outliers: The Story of Success.”
The capitalization rate is the percentage of capable individuals that realize their potential.
The rate at which a 6’10” man is given an opportunity to play basketball.
Most of the hockey players have early birthdates (50% cap rate).
What is the art of podcasting?
It is new and has no critical infrastructure.
There is no expectation of what a podcast should be.
Gladwell is reacting to a literary world that is comitting suicide by has building a critical infrastructure that tells people not to read.