With ‘Talking to Strangers,’ Malcolm Gladwell Goes Dark

Amy Chozick in The New York Times:

In the weeks I spent listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, I learned that lobsters have serotonin, that Elvis Presley suffered from parapraxis and that Mr. Gladwell adheres to a firm life rule that he drink only five liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso and milk. On the afternoon I met the author and journalist, I had just listened to an episode in which he interviews an intimidating guest. His audio recorder malfunctions, and he has to sprint to Staples to get a replacement. “I was embarrassed,” Mr. Gladwell confides in the podcast. “I worried that he would think I was pathetic.” It sounded mortifying. And yet when I sat down to interview Mr. Gladwell, at the kitchen table of his Manhattan apartment, I went ahead and trusted my own recorder.

This is what Mr. Gladwell, in his new book, “Talking to Strangers,” calls “default to truth.” Human beings are by nature trusting — of people, technology, everything. Often, we’re too trusting, with tragic results. But if we didn’t suppress thoughts of worst-case scenarios, we’d never leave the house. We definitely wouldn’t go on dating apps or invest in stocks or let our kids take gymnastics. “It would be impossible!” Mr. Gladwell said, throwing up his hands, almost giddy at imagining the social paralysis that would occur if we were a less trusting species. “Everyone would withdraw their money from banks,” he continued. “In fact, the whole internet exists because people default to truth. Nothing is secure! They are hacking into the cloud as we speak!”

More here.