Malcolm Gladwell is wrong about Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’

Michael MooreNew Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell makes a fundamental error in his critique of Michael Moore’s movie “Sicko.” Gladwell says the health-care system is so complex that it can’t be fixed with one bold stroke such as Moore proposes. The best-selling author of “Blink” and “The Tipping Point,” Gladwell reasons thus:

Moore, he says, takes a Picasso-like approach, referring to Pablo Picasso as conceptual innovator who pioneered cubism’s bold break with more traditional painting.

Gladwell argues that the intricacies of the health-care mess require a step-by-step experimental approach like painter Paul Cezanne’s.

He presented that argument to a recent health-care conference in Las Vegas.

The flaw in that argument is that it’s problem-solving individuals, not problems themselves, that tend to be conceptual or experimental. Picasso, Orson Welles, T.S. Eliot, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were conceptual innovators. Cezanne, Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Frost, and computer pioneer Grace Murray Hopper made their contributions as experimental innovators. In each field, both types of innovators flourish.

Was the never-ending problem of how to portray the world in art so complex that it took Cezanne’s experimental approach to solve it at the end of the 19th century but became simple enough for Picasso to solve conceptually and cubistically in 1907? Of course not.


3 Responses to Malcolm Gladwell is wrong about Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’

  1. Susan says:

    Thanks for helping me find you! There is no question the health care industry is complex… too many players! I once wrote a newsletter for about three years for a company whose only purpose was to “reprice” health care claims. And, I never understood for whom did they “reprice” and were they adding or subtracting, and how did they make their money, etc.

    BTW, I love the art of innovation site. Just what I was needing, another site to visit regularly!

  2. lynette says:

    i have read many of the criticisms leveled at michael moore and this film and i am unwilling to accept any of them given the realities of our health care system in this country. i am enough of a cheerleader for my country that i believe we can solve any problem if we only devote our considerable energy and time and $$ to it. i dream of a world where people won’t have to fear being financially ruined because of an illness, where folks who become chronically ill will be able to live without the stress of wondering how they’re going to pay for treatment. this is possible in the US if we only put people before corporate interests for once.

  3. Sheldon says:

    Another point against his argument is that we already have several other industrial developed countries that have been doing the experimenting for us. We just have to examine what is going wrong or right with theirs, and develop our own.

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