Staticians have had, for quite some time, a profound effect on me. I love their inferences that they take from simple observation.
Staticians know best the science of studying. Sometimes they are supposed to figure out how to make things better, more efficient. Sometimes they discover the hidden reasons to (previously) unsolved “whys?.” Whatever the task, staticians constantly surprise and interest me with their findings.
I bring this up because I just started reading a book written by a statician by the name of Malcolm Gladwell. He’s written bestsellers The Tipping Point and Blink, and, while, I’ve never read them, I’m sure they are as good as they book I’m going to talk about today.
Outliers: The Story of Success is, simply, an analyzation of successful people. The author starts out in the introduction talking about a certain people with a type of success that probably doesn’t come to mind when I say “success.”
The introduction, titled “The Roseto Mystery,” is about a town in Pennsylvania called Roseto. The town is predominately Italian-American. They are hard workers. Their life is centered around the family. And, strangest of all, they all live so-healthy-it’s-eerie lives:
The results were astonishing. In Roseto, virtually no one under fifty-five had died of a heart attack or showed any signs of heart disease. For men over sixty-five, the death rate from heart disease in Roseto was roughly half that of the United States as a whole. The death rate from all causes in Roseto, in fact, was 30 to 35 percent lower than expected.
The introduction continues on about the town that was the book’s title– an outlier. The introduction, written about Stewart Wolf, a physician who literally put Roseto on the map, says that Wolf brought in medical students and sociology grad students to help him explain what was going on. John Bruhn, one of the socioligists, had helped out Wolf in the 1950s examination of the small town of Roseto; over fifty years later, when Bruhn was interviewed for the book, he claimed:
There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. They didn’t have anyone on welfare. Then we looked at peptic ulcers. They didn’t have any of those either. These people were dying of old age. That’s it.
The book writes about countless things. He measures success in terms of many things I’d never even thought were relavent, including area and time of birth, amount of practice, natural talent, and many others. If you’re looking for a good read and have the time, I suggest checking this book out.