gladwell.com: The PitBull Paradox

Malcolm Gladwell has a great post on his blog about the danger of statistics. He has an uncanny ability to look at a situation or problem from a unique angle, and he demonstrates it again in “The Pit Bull Paradox.” Are Pit Bulls more dangerous? I have a friend who has one that is a great dog. She happens to be a great dog owner, which may actually make a bigger difference than dog type. It seems that Pit Bulls are great students, and if taught to be vicious, will do so consistently and completely. There is no in between for this breed. Once taught how to behave the dog will not likely hide nor change its temperment. It is an interesting way of looking at a dog which has been widely demonized across America. They are illegal to own in Dayton,very difficult to own in Dayton, and if a Pit Bull attacks someone it is almost always the lead story on the local news. I personally don’t know how comfortable I would be with my one of my neighbors owning one, but this post by Gladwell certainly makes me think about it more deeply. Every time I read his work I find myself saying “of course, that was so obvious, how could I have missed that angle.” Whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions, there is little doubt that he is brilliant and his work is compelling.
gladwell.com: The PitBull Paradox

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2 Responses to “gladwell.com: The PitBull Paradox”


  1. 1 David Esrati March 18, 2006 at 6:47 am

    It’s not illegal to own a pit bull in Dayton- you just have to carry a half million dollar bond- which is supposed to stop idiots from owning them.
    However- if one is taken in by the dog warden- it’s almost impossible to get it back.

    but- the point of his post was nothing to do with pit-bulls.
    It’s statistics- and how sample size can skew results- if the sample pool changes as it gets bigger.

    So many statistics we accept as “fact” are tainted by the way the question is asked. We often interpret statistics to prove what we thought- as opposed to really understand what is going on.

  2. 2 david March 20, 2006 at 8:54 am

    David,

    It is about statistics. What makes Gladwell so interesting to me is not just his ability to debunk statistics, but more so his ability to challenge universal assumptions. The Pit Bull is important to his narrative, as the name of the breed alone tells a story in our minds. The Pit Bull is seen as a ferocious beast, one that evokes fear, not just by statistics, but by the images that are fed to us through “live, local, and late breaking coverage.” Gladwell looks at it from a slightly different angle, and has the gift of presenting his thoughts so that we can do the same. Debunking the statistics is just the surface.
    Also, thanks for the correction on the Dayton law.
    Thanks for voicing your opinion, and for that great Pizza Factory Pizza. Once I get a job, Pizza is on me!


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