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8 Questions for Making Better Choices

I’m a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell. His particular genius for collecting data and weaving together fresh insights has produced a wealth of practical wisdom to help us improve the quality of our lives.

But nobody’s perfect.

I disqualified Mr. Gladwell for sainthood after coming across his 2004 Ted Talk, in which he recounted the career of one Howard Moskowitz, a psychophysicist whose market research for Pepsi Cola, Vlasic Pickles, and Prego Spaghetti Sauce — beginning back in the early 70s — changed the food industry forever. It might seem obvious to us with the wisdom of hindsight but, to make a long story short, Howard Moskowitz discovered that there is no perfect pickle, no ideal type of cola, and no universal favorite recipe for spaghetti sauce.

As a result, we’ve ended up with:

  • 7 different kinds of vinegar
  • 14 different types of mustard
  • 36 varieties of Ragu spaghetti sauce
  • 71 variations of olive oil.

And as options increase, prices go up.  But Mr. Gladwell tells us it’s all worth it:

That is the final, and I think most beautiful lesson, of Howard Moskowitz: that in embracing the diversity of human beings, we will find a surer way to true happiness.

And it is here that Malcolm Gladwell exits the highway of reason by turning off onto the backstreets of phantasmagoria.

Click to read the rest.

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