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October 09 2011

What I've learnt from David and Goliath so far

This is a Quranic story as well as Biblical, so I had the urge to peek in the Quran with the translation to check what's written there (and in some sites, comparing both the biblical & quranic versions in case any plotholes are missing).
Also, Goliath might suffer from acromegaly (giantism).

The way I see it this book is actually the flipside of Outliers while containing some ideas from Blink and Tipping Point; in Outliers we get to know what are the advantages that make successful people what they are today. In David and Goliath, we get to know successful people's disadvantages which caused them to be what they are today. Also, why some advantages actually stop people from succeeding.

 First, some really obvious facts:
- if you're an underdog and you know it, you gotta play outside the rules to beat your opponent cuz playing by their rules is gonna get you down all the time, because within their rules they have all the advantages. This is basically depicted in a lot of book/movie storylines, with the main underdog characters going with a different strategy & eventually winning against their adversaries.
- The inverted U graph. This is a chart that shows how something advantageous can become disadvantageous with an excess amount. Examples including not enough money vs too much money when it comes to parenting & raising kids, or a school teaching kids on classes with too much students vs too little students.

Relative deprivation
- Turns out what school kids need interaction and discussions between people who are just like them, who have the same issues as them, to relate & help them grow up and learn stuff better.
- Also, people need to be in an community where other people feel the same way and get the same stuff as they do in order to feel happier. They need to live with people who relate. This explains why happier countries have higher suicide rates than depressed countries, because in the latter, all the depressed people are like "we're all in this together" while in the former, the depressed people have no one to relate to, cuz everyone else is happy. Gladwell talked about this in one of his interviews.

Little Fish Big Pond vs Big Fish Little Pond
a theory by Herbert Marsh. If one goes into one of those big-shot places for fame & prestige among other high status people, that's being a little fish in a big pond. The flipside is if they choose to go into small-time indie places instead and shine there, making themselves visible. People feel better when they're big fishes in little ponds instead of when they're little fishes in big ponds.

Desirable Difficulty
A disadvantage which can turn a person to push harder in the subject and exceed or make themselves end up doing something else and succeed because of that disadvantage/disability.
- the return of the Big Five Inventory from Blink. This time Gladwell talks about the agreableness meter, and how sometimes people who are unconventionally disagreeable can succeed despite the majority of their community's criticism.
- people with difficulties/disabilities, who are often criticized by people that they can't do certain stuff involving their disadvantage, paired with this headstrong attitude are likely to prove everyone wrong and win at what they're told they couldn't.
- Gifted children who grow up losing a parent, or in a broken home family, or having other types of bad childhood retains their talent/skills in the end compared to their peers who grow up with a normal childhood, cuz the former had something worth fighting for after they've been traumatized, and the latter's skills/talents slowly degrade, due to lack of motivation/challenge. (tbh this explains a lot in my situation & how I became a grade school overachiever to a middle-school slacker).
[One time my dad also said fasting in Ramadan is a desirable difficulty. For example, since we're abstaining from desires like eating and drinking, and finally at dusk when we get to eat stuff at dusk the food tastes way better than usual. Then there's also the toxin-flushing benefit of fasting.]

J.T. MacCurdy on bombings & the effects on people: MacCurdy divides these people who are affected by bombing into 3 groups: the direct hit (who died), the near miss (who probably got injured & severely traumatized) and the remote miss (the ones who witnessed the bombings but are still alive & well). From there Gladwell compared the situation with other different types of situations with difficulties (like dyslexia, childhood trauma, racism attack etc) noting which ones are the "near-misses" & which are "remote misses", the latter which turned out to be a "desirable difficulty" cuz people who had went through a remote miss emerge successfully and became tough as nails because of already conquering their initial trauma.

And then here comes the chapter talking about trickster heroes (one of the cliche underdog tropes) such as Anansi and Brer Rabbit, which the Indonesian equivalent would be Si Kancil (the Mousedeer).
Quite a few chapter talks about the time Martin Luther King Jr and his people rebelled against the KKK, mentioning Fred Shuttlesworth in the previous chapter & Wyatt Walker (the trickster hero) in this one. Gladwell compared Walker to Brer Rabbit, but during the confrontation against Bull Connor, I felt as if King was Odin, Shuttlesworth was Thor and Walker was Loki. It's kinda awesome.

The Limits of Power
This topic is probably what I enjoy most due to my rebellious teenage self. It's about authority and when the massive group it's controlling suddenly rebelled against it. The main point is, rebellion is caused by authority, and if leaders in a group aren't behaving right towards their underlings (especially when they use violence to control their subjects), this will cause them to snap and disobey.
The excessive use of force creates legitimacy problems, and force without legitimacy leads to defiance, not submission.
This chapter talks about how the Protestant majority in Ireland back in the day handled the rebellion of their Catholic minority, and then brings back the Birmingham riot with Bull Connor's people vs Martin Luther King Jr's people, and then about Officer Joanne Jaffe & how she treated the families of thugs with kindness and not asserting herself (as a police officer) to out-thug the thugs, which later got the thugs to like her in the end & stop their crime.

Don't be the product, buy the product!

Schweinderl