How to qualify as a pop sociologist

One Wired writer has a humorous take on what one has to do to be a pop sociologist:

I’ve been reading a lot of books by Malcolm Gladwell and books remarkably similar to books by Malcolm Gladwell. The pattern is pretty straightforward: You give your book a one-word title and then explain what the hell you’re talking about in the subtitle…

The two main qualifications for being a pop sociology author appear to be the ability to ask rhetorical questions, and the ability to share anecdotes that vaguely answer those questions. Is this something I could do? According to a tangentially related study of bar-hopping patterns among female youth in Prague, yes it is…

Learning about what made Darwin, Gershwin and to a lesser extent Paquin who they are is not going to do a damn thing for you, any more than the Babar books turned you into elephant royalty like you always secretly hoped they would. So my book is going to focus on the one thing that all successful, world-changing geniuses have in common: They’re not you.

What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Nope: Success, Brilliance, Innovation and Why Those Words Never Come Up When People Talk About You.


I do have to give Gladwell some credit. He does seem to do his scientific homework as even sociologists like his work (as evidenced by the award he received from the American Sociological Association). Not everyone can do what he does: present scientific findings in an engaging way. I wonder if sociologists are sometimes jealous at the kind of writing he is able to do compared to the more scientific writing required in academic journals and monographs.

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to pick a topic that is ripe for translating from new scientific findings into the popular realm.

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