Detective of fads and emerging subcultures, chronicler of jobs-you-never-knew-existed, Malcolm Gladwell's work is toppling the popular understanding of bias, crime, food, marketing, race, consumers and intelligence.

Why you should listen

Malcolm Gladwell searches for the counterintuitive in what we all take to be the mundane: cookies, sneakers, pasta sauce. A New Yorker staff writer since 1996, he visits obscure laboratories and infomercial set kitchens as often as the hangouts of freelance cool-hunters -- a sort of pop-R&D gumshoe -- and for that has become a star lecturer and bestselling author.

Sparkling with curiosity, undaunted by difficult research (yet an eloquent, accessible writer), his work uncovers truths hidden in strange data. His always-delightful blog tackles topics from serial killers to steroids in sports, while provocative recent work in the New Yorker sheds new light on the Flynn effect -- the decades-spanning rise in I.Q. scores.

Gladwell books include The Tipping Point, which began as a New Yorker piece and applies the principles of epidemiology to crime (and sneaker sales); Blink, which examines the unconscious processes that allow the mind to "thin slice" reality -- and make decisions in the blink of an eye; Outliers, which questions the inevitabilities of success and identifies the relation of success to nature versus nurture; What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures, an anthology of his New Yorker contributions; David and Goliath, which dives into the power of the underdog; Talking to Strangers, which offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers; and The Bomber Mafia, which explores how technology and best intentions collide in the heat of war.

He says: "There is more going on beneath the surface than we think, and more going on in little, finite moments of time than we would guess."

Malcolm Gladwell’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Malcolm Gladwell