Malcolm Gladwell

“The fundamental problem of our dealing with strangers is our own desire for certainty. What we’re struggling with is the fundamental ambiguity of a stranger’s behavior. We have an expectation that we can turn the stranger quickly into an intimate, with all the ramifications that come with that—that the stranger can then be subject to the same accurate analysis as an intimate is. It’s really hard to turn that off because the constant presence of strangers in our life is an insanely modern phenomenon. This is one of those little quirks of human development that we’re having to deal with.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, episode 182 on Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

Malcolm Gladwell is back! This week, the renowned writer/podcaster talks authorship (2:18), life as a rebellious teenager in peaceful Canada (6:47), his take on “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” that he co-signed and the backlash it received (13:25), the fundamental ambiguity of strangers’ behaviors (23:02), the self-reflection he took amidst the protests (29:43), discounting the role of luck in our fortune (32:32), what being a runner does for him (38:48), wanting to stay engaged with people in the world (41:50), and writing about topics he is not an expert in (43:07).



  • Listen to our first conversation with Malcolm, from 2017.
  • Read Harper’s Magazine’s A Letter on Justice and Open Debate here.
  • Read Hannah Giorgis’ response to Harper’s article here.
  • You can buy all of Malcolm’s books including his latest, Talking to Strangers, here.
  • Listen to Malcolm’s podcast, Revisionist History
  • To learn more about Malcolm, visit his website.

Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.

Music by: Dylan Peck

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