Ever since I read Malcolm Gladwell's magnum opus of pseudo-intellectualism, "The Tipping Point", I've hated him. Gladwell's essential method: a few colorful anecdotes + a few quirky experts + self-help homilies - anything that doesn't fit the argument = important and intelligent sociological musings.
Which brings me to Gladwell's recent New Yorker piece about football and concussions in which he equates football with dog fighting. I was familiar with many of the general facts and ideas about concussions in the piece, from articles in the New York Times and other places. But how are fighting dogs and football players alike? Both groups get injured while entertaining people and both are trained to be violent. And...?
As I scanned Gladwell's essay, I couldn't help but notice that he left some things out. Like: "How are football players not like dogs in dog fights?" I mean, duh. So I came up with a list of ways in which the two groups differ.
1. Football players have opposable thumbs. Dogs have paws.
2. Football players wear pads and helmets. Dogs have fur.
3. Football players have language capabilities. Dogs bark.
4. College players get scholarships, social prestige and lots of ladies; pro football players are paid hundreds-of-thousands to millions of dollars. Dogs likely are killed if they lose and are badly injured if they win.
5. Football players choose to play football and practice. Dogs are trained and forced to fight.
In other words, football players and fighting dogs are pretty different in lots of ways. Like, pretty much every way. But if you can connect the two in some facile fashion--and draw in dog fighting-enthusiast Michael Vick to the story--you could be Malcolm Gladwell!