The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: Ryan, Alex, & Connor

1/3

I’m on a nonfiction reading spree, with the last 2 books I’ve read and the current book I’m reading, The Tipping Point, being nonfiction. However, unlike Unbroken and Alcatraz 1259, which in their basis were autobiographies or biographies, The Tipping Point is much more like a textbook in terms of the way it presents information. However, this doesn’t make it anymore boring than any other book; in fact, the information it presents makes it even more interesting than a fiction book you may pick up.

The Tipping Point is a collection of research discussing how the little things in society can blow up dramatically. It opens with an example of Hush Puppies. For awhile, Hush Puppies had died, and it’s future wasn’t looking bright. However, in a spontaneous act of events, the brand suddenly skyrocketed, with sales increasing by more than 1400 percent. Gladwell discusses how the shoe brand could have make such an amazing comeback, and continues to further discuss the Three Rules of Epidemics. While reading through his gathered research, I found it very interesting how one of the rules, The Law of the Few, relates to my life.

The Law of the Few, to summarize, states that in society, there are a three specific types of people that come together to spread epidemics. The first is a Connecter, the type of person that knows everyone and is very outgoing, experiencing new things and new ideas. The second type of person is a Maven, who is the information hub and shares the information with other people. The third and last type of person is a Persuader, a charismatic person with very strong persuasion and negotiation skills. After I read this and contemplated awhile on it, I realized that there were lots of these types of people surrounding me, and I even knew some of them. I have a friend who seems to be in every single club, and likes to make new friends and talk to people they don’t know. In my life, they are my Connecter. I know another person that, admittedly, likes to search up random facts, try new things, and find out interesting facts I didn’t even know I wanted to know. I have an extremely proficient Persuader in my life, even convincing me to do things I didn’t think I would ever do.

cannot wait to keep reading The Tipping Point and finding out even more information about things in society, and I also can’t wait to hear how other people reading this book interpret the information.

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6 responses to “The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell: Ryan, Alex, & Connor

  1. ryanzhang21

    At the time I am writing this review, no one has responded to my first post, so unfortunately I am unable to reflect on how they have reacted and interpreted The Tipping Point.

    As Gladwell continues to develop the factors of epidemics, he begins to talk about something called The Stickiness Factor. The Stickiness Factor essentially says how certain factors will cause something to “stick” in the audience’s mind, and how some factors will not. Gladwell brings up an interesting study involving preschoolers and childrens’ tv shows. Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues are used to study how the different techniques in the shows capture the child’s attention and keep the attention. I remember watching Sesame Street when I was young, but I don’t recall ever watching Blue’s Clues. However, as I read on in the study, I began to realize how I was captured by the funny looking puppets and people on the screen, and how I kept watching. Subtle things I would never have noticed kept my 5 year old brain focused on the tv screen.

    Since most people argue that toddlers and adult minds work differently, Gladwell also described an experiment involving college students. The college students were first educated about the dangers of tetanus, some more intensely than others, and then they were followed and noted if they had gone to the college clinic to actually get a tetanus shot. Surprisingly, few of them actually did, so when they attached a map of where the clinic was and times it was open, the amount of people that went rose dramatically. I found this very interesting, because I thought the map would be useless because the college students already knew where the clinic was and when it was open, and yet it increased the amount of people that went by noticeable amounts.

    Gladwell keeps bringing up many different aspects that can change how people think, and this keeps making me question my own actions and how much they are determined by what I see. I can’t wait to keep reading, and see how my classmates interpret this information as well.

  2. komodolafrance

    The Tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell was a very interesting read for me. I’ve never read a Gladwell book before, and I’m glad that I started with this one. The Tipping point talks about the three main stages of any epidemic, whether it be Hush Puppies, the drug problem in Brooklyn, or even things like Sesame Street, or Blue’s Clues.

    The book starts off by talking about the three characteristics all these epidemics share; contagiousness, little causes having big effects, and the change happens in one dramatic moment, rather than the gradual changes we often associate with these monumental changes.

    So far, this book’s insight to issues that we are still struggling with today, is refreshing, it feels like there’s no sugarcoating, Malcolm Gladwell is a fantastic writer, who isn’t afraid of the facts, and I can’t wait to continue reading this book

  3. ryanzhang21

    As I won’t be available this weekend, I’m writing my final review a little early.

    I have never fully read a Malcolm Gladwell book either, and as Alex said above, it was a very refreshing and interesting read, and I am glad I chose to read this book. I haven’t read a book that discusses real life research and studies before, and the nonfiction books I’ve read are biographies and autobiographies, so it was very beneficial for me to read something different, while very interesting at the same time.

    While I was finishing this book, something I was wondering about was finally discussed by Gladwell. This book is all about epidemics and contagiousness, in addition to addictions. When I hear the word addiction, I tend to immediately think about smoking, one of the largest known addictions to humans. Many people wonder why we haven’t stopped smoking addictions yet, with all this new research about how it’s horrible for your health and causes cancer, etc. Gladwell discussed how instead of educating smokers on the benefits of quitting smoking, a different approach must be taken to address this problem. He goes on to describe healthy alternatives to smoking, and numerous studies conducted to research how and why people get caught. He goes on to describe 3 different types of people: those who smoke once and never again, those that smoke occasionally but for some reason don’t get addicted, and those who are heavy smokers that go through packs of cigarettes in a week. He described how that the genes in a person can determine whether they smoke or not. People with genes that are capable of taking in more amounts of nicotine that other genes are more likely to get addicted to smoking that other people. I found all this research extremely interesting, and I recommend other people to read this to not only learn about all these amazing studies, but to also see how it correlates to your life.

    Throughout these reviews, I have mainly discussed many of the studies and research conducted, but I have never really discussed the way Gladwell writes and how it captures my attention. The information is written in moderately understandable english, but sometimes I do have to look up what certain words mean. However, this doesn’t deter me from continuing on reading; in fact, it drives me to read more, as I am curious to learn all these new facts on these pages. The way Gladwell organizes his information is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. In each chapter, he has subsections, each diving into something along the lines of the topic of the chapter, but looks entirely different from other examples in the same chapter. An example of this was a study of suicide with addiction, and then talking about smoking. However, although each study only lasts for a few pages, the style he chooses to write in captures my attention and keeps me reading.

    This book is definitely not for those who read for a story. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Those who are interested in psychology, and even those who aren’t, would benefit a lot from reading this. I think everyone is able to read and comprehend the information in this book, and I recommend it to everyone who is looking for something different to read.

    All in all, even though this is my first real nonfiction book and I have nothing to compare it to, I rate The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell a 10/10.

  4. Connor Whittington


    This is the third Malcolm Gladwell book that I have read this semester. The best out of the three books was Outliers, because I noticed that it had the most connections to my life and that made the lessons taught in the book more memorable for me. I thought that The Tipping Point was more engaging than David and Goliath because the anecdotes and studies presented in the novel were much more interesting.

    The overall message of The Tipping Point is a simple and obvious concept, that little things can make big differences. Although, Malcolm Gladwell put his own spin on this topic by introducing three different categories of people whom he thinks make something “tip.” As Ryan and Alex already explained, Gladwell proposes that a trend needs a Maven, Connector, and Persuader in order to spread like wildfire. Categorizing the critical people who start a trend into these three categories was really what interested me about the first third of the book.

    I always thought of trends like a stagnant biker at the top of a hill. Applicable to all of life, a body at rest must stay at rest. The biker has a whole lot of potential energy waiting for him at the bottom of the hill but he needs a push-off to get started down the hill. This is where the Maven, Connector, and Persuader come in. They are what get the biker moving and the trend off the ground. After that, the trend will run its course in society and slowly peter out as the gradient of the hill subsides.

    The Connector is likely the most vital component of a trend. One example of a Connector given by Gladwell is Paul Revere. Paul Revere famously rode from Boston to Lexington to warn colonists that “The British were coming!” (to take control of a colonist firearm warehouse). Revere was able to garner a lot of support for his cause, and the next day when a small troop of British soldiers came to retake the weapons warehouse, a much larger army of farmers and towns folk opposed them. Paul Revere was a connector because he was able to spread the news to many people, ultimately creating a powerful “trend.” There was another man who rode with Paul Revere but took a different route, and his name was William Dawes. He couldn’t rally up but a few townsmen even though he was carrying the same news. The distinction between the amount of people that Revere and Dawes rallied shows why strong Connectors determine which trends tip and which don’t.

    Ryan, I agree that I am now noticing many people in my own life who remind me of either a Maven or Connector, but I’m not really seeing a lot of Persuaders. Persuaders seem like the third wheel of an epidemic, at least in my opinion, all trends might not require a Persuader to tip.

    What I have come to appreciate about Malcolm Gladwell is that he takes a topic that you think is simple and then breaks it down, analyzes it, and then complicates it. I end up looking at the topic from a new perspective that I can safely say is backed by science. I’m excited to keep reading about the magical moment when a trend tips.

  5. Connor Whittington

    The second third of the Tipping Point was much more enjoyable than the first. The factor that determines how engaged I am and how much I take away from a Malcolm Gladwell novel is the examples. When the examples are connected in someway to myself, the lesson and perspective change that Gladwell presents sticks, and I don’t forgot his take on the subject because I am examining it in my own life every day.

    Gladwell describes a study that followed and tested many children, some of whom were raised by their biological parents, and others by adopted parents. “On things like measures of intellectual ability and certain aspects of personality, the biological children are fairly similar to their parents. For the adopted kids, however, the results are downright strange. Their scores have nothing whatsoever in common with their adoptive parents: these children are no more similar in their personality or intellectual skills to the people who raised them, fed them, clothed them, read to them, taught them, and loved them for sixteen years than they are to any two adults taken at random off the street” (241). This example is relevant to my life and also somehow connected to the tipping point (not sure how yet). I induced from this study that nurture is not as critical to human development as nature, which was something that I had already been thinking about. Nature vs. nurture can be connected to quite a few political topics, but I don’t need to get into the specifics of those.

    Ryan, Gladwell’s dissection of how Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues keep children’s attention was insightful. I never would have thought that miniscule details (like the proportion of puppets to people) that many adults wouldn’t even notice determine how “sticky” an episode is for toddlers. If the Stickiness Factor applies to children’s shows, it is certainly present everywhere else in life. I’ve always wondered why I remember random details or events better than others, and while Gladwell doesn’t directly answer my question, the childrens shows are a good parallel that point me in the right direction. The college experiment regarding tetanus shots also shows how people subconsciously try to expend the least energy possible.

    So far, The Tipping Point has shown that the environment an epidemic is created in is critical to its’ success, and a select few people and details determine how impactful it will be.

  6. Connor Whittington

    The last third of the Tipping Point has been enjoyable but the book seemed to just end, and I didn’t feel as if it provided strong closure and a recap of the lesson. After finishing this book I felt disjointed, and although this might be because I read the book in spurts, it is probably because the book and lesson didn’t follow a consistent pattern, and jumped all over the place. I had trouble following how one example was connected to another, for example, the nature vs. nurture study was only slightly connected to the overall theme of the tipping point and it really just created clutter in the story. Gladwell went off on multiple other tangents that only created confusion in the story and took away from the central message.

    As both of you have commented, this book was a very refreshing and informative read. Surprisingly, my biggest takeaway from this novel was what caused the dramatic decline in New York crime. Around 1990, violent crimes in New York hit a tipping point, and in the next 10 years the number of crimes dropped 100%. Gladwell explained how graffiti and small crimes were rampant in the New York subway, and by permitting these acts, criminals felt encouraged to carry out worse crimes because of the lack of regulation. Although, when a new head policeman was hired he punished all crimes, no matter how small, and did his best to remove graffiti from the subway. The new environment that was created was much less forgiving to criminals, and the decreased number of crimes meant that criminals would likely be caught because there were much fewer crimes to focus on. It is crazy that the removal of graffiti can be critical in drastically reducing the number of violent crimes, and this is a piece of information that I can put to use in our upcoming MUN security council meeting.

    This study is also somewhat connected to Gladwell’s research on cigarette smokers. Ryan, you explained how genes can impact how susceptible someone is to becoming addicted to smoking, and how telling people the negative effects of smoking can sometimes be a doomed fight. I agree with Gladwell that a different approach needs to be taken to eliminate smoking. Gladwell proposes that the depression that many chronic smokers have needs to be addressed to stop smoking addiction, and that the nicotine levels in tobacco be lowered to prevent reliance on tobacco. These two solutions would break up the three factors that are necessary to create a tipping point. To summarize the book, the three factors are: people with a rare set of social skills help get the epidemic off the ground, the epidemic has a high level of “stickiness” (irresistible), and favorable environmental factors help to push it past the tipping point.

    The Tipping Point was an interesting book to read, and Gladwell again presented a unique perspective that makes the reader reconsider things that were thought to be set in stone. I enjoyed this book and will definitely read another Gladwell novel, just maybe not for a while!

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