Malcolm Gladwell on David and Goliath


In Malcolm Gladwell’s world, things aren’t always what they seem.  His eternal curiosity about topics we can all relate to, combined with his exhaustive research and insightful conclusions make him a great story teller and help us often see life in a different way.  But, what happens when Gladwell, himself, becomes obsessed with a story?  The results are fascinating, challenge everything you thought you knew, and in this case, are very medical.

I recently came across Gladwell’s TED talk from 2013 about David and Goliath.  To many of us, the story of David and Goliath never warranted questions.  But, it never sat right with Gladwell.  What unfolds is incredible.  He takes the story apart, piece by piece and examines every detail.  First, he talks about the sling that David uses as his weapon and puts it in the context of the weapons of that day and age.  He then talks about the stones that he uses and how the stones in that area of the country were about twice as dense as normal stones.  Finally, he talks about accuracy and how slingers, as they were called, were often incredibly accurate with their weapon.  Then, discusses Goliath and exposes his many weaknesses that most have never noticed, questioned or bothered to put together.  (Although, he does mention that the medical community has questioned Goliath’s state from time-to-time.)  This is where it gets really good and the medical details kick in.  In short, he goes in to great detail about why Goliath most likely suffered from acromegaly.  The many factors he considers are his size, vision, mobility.  If you agree with his diagnosis, and combine this with the facts surrounding David’s skill and weapon, you, too, will think the story of David and Goliath is no big deal –and that David wasn’t really an underdog.

Watch below to see him share the fascinating details that lead him to this fascinating conclusion.

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