Take The Side Of The Loser

January 17, 2013 3:08 pm

Here is a strange trick that authors seem to use in their narratives – take the side of the person who has not hit it big (or) the common man – since they are 99.999 percent of the population, odds are that the person reading the book right now is not an outlier. Here are two examples:

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Basically if you tell someone who has lost money in the stockmarket that it was all pure luck that Warren Buffet made money and the person in question did not, he would feel better. He would in fact feel awesome, if you go on to say that he is not Bill Gates because Bill Gates just turned out to be lucky. The guy feels great, it is a great point made by the author – there is just no way the person will not like the book. Taleb does this really well in his book ‘Fooled By Randomness’.

Malcolm Gladwell does this as well: In Outliers, he basically says that to be good at something, you need to do it for some 10,000 hours. And he takes many examples, including Bill Gates, where they just got the opportunity to put in those 10,000 hours. And they went on to become outliers. There is an example around birth months impacting soccer careers that is on similar lines. Basically, you were just unlucky, do not bother, the systems are to blame.

Nice trick – take the side of the loser – and basically tell them “the winners were just lucky, do not feel bad, you are not to blame”. The outliers might not like it – but the authors do not care – with most of the population on the losing side, the outliers just don’t ‘count’.

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