Malcolm Gladwell: The Ethnic Theory Of Plane Crashes

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Chapter 7- The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes Malcolm Gladwell claims that one’s culture differences, such as power distance and communication, can dramatically affect the performance of a task. He uses the environment of flying an airplane to illustrate his point. It opens with Gladwell describing the problem of South Korean airlines. These airlines had a much higher loss rate than most other countries. Gladwell gathered several sources of evidence to explain this phenomenon. The first part of the problem was communication. Transcripts were gathered from several planes in emergency situations and showed that the lack of proper communication between the captain and the first officer contributed to the accident. By giving a crew command and…show more content…
Having all people involved in a possible-risk situation given “rules” for communication, or what is expected in that situation, would be a good policy to follow. This prevents cultural misunderstanding that could drastically affect the outcome of the task, in the case of flying an airplane, even people’s…show more content…
The first example he gives demonstrates the ability of math, contrasting Western students and Asian students. The number-naming systems in Western and Asian languages are completely different. The number system in Asia is logical and the words are brief, allowing more numbers to be memorized and recalled. The opposite is true for the system in Western society. This difference allows Asian children to learn numbers much faster than American children. Since this logical system allows Asian children to complete basic functions of math easily, they are more likely to enjoy math, take more math classes and this cycle continues bringing them a mathematical advantage. Gladwell explains that it also has to do with the cultural background that they are a part of. Their cultural background includes rice farming, which is an intricate agriculture to work with. The amount of work that is put into rice farming is correlative to what results come out of it. The work and dedication that rice farmers put into this work was far more than the work of any other type of farmer. This dedication to meaningful work has been translated through generations, especially in the area of mathematics. A math professor at Berkeley, Alan Schoenfeld, videotaped people solving math problems and the

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