Gladwell's Tipping Point
Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point offers a fascinating and insightful way to think about the issue of epidemics. Those elements Gladwell believes are the basis for why epidemics start allows the reader to think about their world in a way they never thought they could. I would not have thought of Sesame Street or Blue's clues as being defined as epidemics. When one thinks of an epidemic, one thinks of AIDS, or some form of disease so widespread that it must be contained and a cure provided to keep the disease in check from spreading further. Therefore, after reading the book, the reader is left with a new perspective to "look at the subtle, the hidden, and the unspoken" (Gladwell, 2002, pg. 80). Those things in everyday life that we
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The emphasis placed on Sesame Street and Blue's Clue's demonstrates this point. The creators of those shows purposely went out of their way, by tinkering with the shows concepts, to make the shows epidemics. The intent of creating an environment to purposely make kids want to watch the shows to the extent of contagious proportions was not incidental. Gladwell's portrayal of epidemics as something that are in our control, that we can help prevent, as in the case of suicide or smoking, is not realistic. Those insignificant, small things or changes that one would not normally think about to cause big differences are deemed as incidental. If those small, insignificant things or changes that would not normally be thought to cause big differences were incidental then they would not be subject to the process of control.
What Gladwell lacks in his methodology of tipping points is an evaluation of a scale of what causes some ideas/behaviors/products to tip and start epidemics. It would have been effective if Gladwell would have explored the idea of a maximum or minimum by which everything changes. Because he treats epidemics as situational and that one moment is the cause Gladwell tends to treat epidemics as single entities. It is not a combination of factors that come together to bring about an epidemic but one single event at a particular time that causes something to