Final Paper: A 8 to 12 page paper on the book What the Dog Saw.
1. Why do we have one type of ketchup as opposed to multiple varieties of mustard?
2. From the essay, “Blowing Up,” talk about Taleb Nassim and his theory of markets and investment. Can his basic ideas be applied to other experiences or events?
3. If by any chance you’ve read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, do Cesar Millan’s dog training methods seem familiar…or completely different than what David Wroblewski wrote about in his novel?
4. In “Open Secrets,” how does Gladwell connect Enron, Watergate, prostate cancer research, and Osama Bin Laden— three seemingly disparate subjects? Do you agree with his assessment? What is the difference, according to Gladwell, between puzzles and mysteries? Is this just semantics…or is he reaching for something deeper?
5. Talk about what Gladwell has to say about the accuracy of mammograms as a diagnostic tool.
6. Do you accept Gladwell’s argument about plagiarism in the essay, “Something Borrowed”? Explain why.
7. In “The Art of Failure,” Gladwell discusses the difference between choking and panicking? How does he differentiate the two? Are they really mutually exclusive as he presents them? What do you think of his assessment of John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s plane crash? Is Gladwell’s analysis glib… or has he hit on some buried structure of the human psyche?
8. In his chapter about the Challenger explosion, do you agree with his assessment that “we don’t really want the safest of all possible worlds”? Do you believe that any of the disasters in Part Two could have been foretold and prevented?
9. In what way is criminal profiling not “a triumph of forensic analysis,” but a “party trick”? Does Gladwell make his point?
10. Gladwell also uses the “straw man” method of persuasion. He begins with a premise that we easily accept (the straw man) then proceeds to knock it down. It leads to surprise, a sort of “wow, I never saw it that way!” What are some of the essays in which Gladwell uses the straw dog approach? Do you find it affective?
11. Gladwell has sometimes been described—in this and other works—as facile. In other words, he’s been accused of reaching for easy conclusions that fit his overall view, while sometimes ignoring messy evidence that doesn’t. Can you find any evidence that this is the case? Does Gladwell present a world that is too neatly wrapped? Or is he simply exploring anomalies where he finds them?
12. Which essays did you most enjoy and why? Which surprised you the most?
The paper must be typed, double spaced, and written in Times New Roman 12pt. font. Answer all questions above. Please do not re-write the questions within your paper.
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