Malcolm Gladwell wrote a flawed weed moral panic piece for The New Yorker


Originally published at:


Agenda? What ever happened to people just being wrong? I’m on the Malcolm Gladwell hate bandwagon, too, but I’m willing to put money down which I don’t have that MG doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to keep pot illegal.


Drugs are like that.


Maybe he’s in the pocket of big… law enforcement? alcohol?


Mr. Gladwell needs a visit from Electric Larry.


Big Pharma is pretty opposed to marijuana.
If there were a pocket he’s in, I’d put my money there.


Oh! That’s true. Good call!


Berenson (and then Gladwell) also make a straw man argument - that pot was legalized because of supposed health benefits. The health benefits have always been poorly supported by hard evidence. But there is also weak evidence of harm. Most Americans think that if a terminal cancer patient wants to smoke some pot, let them. In addition, voters came to the polls because they believe that, whatever the risks of pot use may be, they don’t justify incarcerating people, and don’t justify spending billions of dollars fighting a black market. There is plenty of evidence to prove that alcohol is bad for our health, leads to violence, and can cause depression. Where’s Gladwell’s pro-prohibition article?


I did not even have to watch the video I remember that commercial. We used to laugh at it in Jr High Smooth talking dealer man


I’m thinking it’s not weed or weed usage that is turning people into killers but growing pains associated with legalizing weed after it had been illegal for so long. Legalizing weed brings the price way down and destabilizes the black market. Those are the consequences of prohibition, like the mob and alcohol prohibition, not the consequences of drug usage. That’s just my hypothesis though!

ETA: Plus just because something is legal, it doesn’t mean more people are using it or using it more. Generally the opposite turns out to be true. So really, it might be less weed usage “turning people into killers.”


nah, not them as big alcohol and big nicotine are investing heavily in weed. they see the writing on the wall.


Maybe, but shouldn’t Mark offer some evidence of that? Instead of tossing it to us two-handed like a halibut at a fish market?


He confuses correlation with causation[.]

Isn’t that, in essence, the entirety of Malcolm Gladwell’s schtick? It’s been a while since I read Freakonomics, but the parts of it I remember are mostly “What if the correlation between these two seemingly unrelated things is actually causation?”

EDIT: This post would work a lot better if Malcolm Gladwell had written Freakonomics, which he totally didn’t. Whoops.



Well, it was mostly a joke… and I mean, I guess…


Without even getting into correlation/causation, the “Washington violence increase” anecdote also relies on a leap from at least A to C: that legalization led more people to actually consume more pot, or more people to consume pot who hadn’t before. Is that true? Were any of the violent offenders who were part of this increase tested for Marijuana? Bad Gladwell, Bad. No more pop-pseudoscience columns for you.


Which is ironic, given Gladwell’s origins as a big tobacco shill. Wonder who’s paying him now?


BTW, I don’t know my fish sizes and I just found out that halibut are 400lb. fish. Adjust your mental image accordingly.


Gladwell is writer with an education in history. He is not a scientist nor is he a medical doctor. He has no authority to speak on this subject therefore I have no desire to listen to him on it either.


You may not believe this, but I’m smoking weed right now.


Try not to kill anyone!