Luther said:I've read a book called 'outliers' which focused on Chris for one chapter. Basically the book is about extraordinary people and what factors actually vault a person to success. The author strongly argues that's it's nurture, and not nature, which dictates how succeful a person will be. And in Chris's case, he had a fucked up background which contributed to him being a loner. If I remember correctly the last words of the chapter were... 'and nobody makes it alone.'
Interesting book by Malcom Gladwell.
Malcolm Gladwell is an intellectual fraud. He's quite typical of the NYT bestselling authors who propose simple social psychology explanations that don't actually hold up when examined further.
The reason his books sell is that (again like many NYT bestsellers) he implicitly promises that ANYONE can be anything they want, as long as you have the right tools, mindset, approach, trick, etc. This dude has caused quite a bit of damage popularizing poor ideas like his 10,000 hours practice idea, when in reality it only applies to people who are already exceptionally talented, are doing a very specific task (e.g. playing an instrument or Olympic level swimming) and the 10,000 hours is deliberate practice - meaning focusing on only challenging yourself to the next level (e.g. with music, attempting a slightly harder piece than you can play). That doesn't mean that practice won't make you better, but it's not like anyone can become a rock star in his chosen field as long as they put the time into it - which is the lie Gladwell implicitly sells.
In terms of success, the biggest predictor is in fact nature - IQ is the best-correlated factor, with a correlation of 0.65.* The next best predictor is conscientiousness, which again has a strong genetic component. The correlation with conscientiousness is 0.1.
If Gladwell took these two traits into account, it would most likely explain every single one of his outliers. The nurture component only comes into place when the person already has the right traits. What do I mean?
Put someone like Gates in his childhood upbringing (with access to a computer at his elite high school) and you get Microsoft.
Put someone with an IQ below 85 in the same upbringing and you most likely get a felon.
This is why I don't like reading (auto)biographies. Or at least I don't like recommending them to the average college kid. There are some things you can learn from biographies such as the value of tenacity in the face of terrible luck (for which, QC's work may be the best in the business), but I feel too many people focus on trying to emulate the same type of result instead of the process. I wonder how many kids read Elon Musk's biography, hoping to make the next Tesla, not realizing they're 20 IQ points too dumb to ever get there.
I'm not trying to be cynical here - I just get the impression that books like Gladwell's give people way too much false hope. In the same vein of the vile Anne-Marie Slaughter, who promised countless women they could have it all. Only to finally admit that only very few women actually can. How many cat ladies did she not create?
Without the nature component, the nurture component is useless. It's a deeply uncomfortable truth, especially in the US - where a 'you can be anything' attitude goes.
* In terms of IQ, I do believe there is an inversed-U relationship. Yes, it's strongly correlated to success, but only up to a point. Go too high (past 140 maybe) and your success starts dropping unless the perfectly right nurture component is there.
In terms of background, I'm ambivalent to how much effect it has. Take, for example, Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber - who reportedly had an IQ of 168, and became the youngest tenured professor at UC Berkely. In terms of background, he might have hit the lottery - good, smart parents, was able to attend Harvard at the age of 16 and a bright career in mathematics - perhaps the best-suited career for guys with such high quantitative IQs. Yet he still went off the rails, lived secluded in the forest and was bombing people.
Again, it's my hypothesis once you pass a certain IQ threshold you can't function normally in society anymore. Like living amongst cows, you'd probably lose your sanity.