Gladwell's Paper Case

Published: 2021-09-13 17:25:09
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Category: Philosophy

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In the 7th chapter of Gladwell's paper, "Outliers, The Story of Success" he talks about how the Korean Airline earned such a dismal record of crashes. The airline had such a bad record of airplane safety that major airlines suspended their partnership with them (181). In the paper, he makes a claim that the Korean language's social boundaries were the reason for the mass amount of accidents that happened. According to his claim the usage of another language, in this case English, enabled the crew to communication on equal terms which eliminated the social boundaries of the Korean language. I believe that the given reason for the pilots' improved flight performance cannot be solely contributed due to the switch from Korean to English. I believe that the claim puts too much emphasis on the language itself and takes away from what one's native environment might have on one's way of thinking. In this paper, I will be showing that switching languages does not necessarily change one's way of thinking as easily as Gladwell made it seem in his paper.
In talking about the flight performance of the Korean airline, Gladwell mentions how a Westerner named Greenberg was sent to help find a solution for the Koreans. Greenberg's solution was simply making everybody on the crew to only talk with one another using English. So Greenberg began his plan by improving the English proficiency of all the pilots and their crew member. By improving their English speaking skills, he hoped that the whole crew will be able to communicate with each other on equal grounds without being subjugated to the social hierarchy of the Korean language(218).
He believes that English allows for communication without reinforcement of the social standards that the Korean language has which will enable everybody to speak to one another on equal grounds. This is in turn will allow the rest of the crew to speak freely to the pilot when voicing their opinion in a much more direct way without fearing of speaking out of place against their superiors. Greenberg credits the drastic improvement to the Korean Airline to this simple switch in language. However, I believe that Greenburg's claim cannot be true since it does not take into account just how the social behaviorism of the crew members are instilled in them and cannot be that easily changed.
Our geography plays a major role in attributing to the way in which we think and act. In Richard E. Nisbett's "Geography of Thought" he shows just how the early Greeks and Chinese' way of thinking and social behavior is completely different. The Greeks have a more individualistic sense of self where they believe that they have control over their lives and it is up to them to choose how they live. Their occupations consist of roles such as hunters, fishers, gatherers which are jobs that can be considered self-efficient where help from others is not required. This is due to the fact their geographical location is perfect for jobs such as those. Their behavior within their own society fosters an environment where one's opinion and sense of personal agency is expressed through debates with one another (2003, 3).
The Chinese on the other hand is completely different. Their work consists mostly of farming. Since they have vast stretches of land, farming requires a great deal of work for everybody which meant that it would be in the best interest for everybody to work together so that the daily chores will be done. This meant that their behavior within their society fosters a sense of harmony where everybody got along and everybody work towards the same goal (2003, 5).

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