Shameless plug time!
I'm a student at Bowdoin College, and the current lead developer of the motion engine we run on our Naos to compete in the RoboCup Standard Platform League. The idea of the SPL league is that all teams use the same hardware (the Nao) so that the entire competition is about the software. My team, the Northern Bites has written our own omni-directional motion engine, vision system and behavior stack (the latter two in C++/ASM, the behaviors in Python). We recently hosted the US Open up at Bowdoin, and we're headed to Istanbul in early July for the world championships.
The Aldebaran guys rock, and the Nao is an extremely cool platform for bipedal research (it runs a stripped down version of Debian).
I did read "Blink" and found that while he provided lots of anecdotes to support his premise, there was no mechanism, no measurement, and no way to verify it. In fact, he provided a number of other anecdotes that showed just the opposite.
What he did in that book, I think, was to state a premise that we'd like to believe, that our gut instincts are right, and tell stories to reinforce that, but never go so far as to make a claim that could be verified. I'm not alone in this view.
Based on what I've read so far, "Outliers" seems like more of the same.
You might be interested in Antonio Damasio's book "Descarte's Error" in which Damasio scientifically presents evidence that the majority of our reasoning is in fact mediated by emotion and "gut feeling" linked to situational stimulus. Damage to the pre-frontal cortex of the brain (see: Phineas Gage) impairs this "secondary" emotional system and causes quantifiable decision-making deficits. Gladwell is referring to just this system in Blink, and although he does occaisionally lapse into pop-sci there is a significant body of work that supports his main conclusions.
As another interesting aside, this is why teenagers have such a poor time making good long-term decisions. The pre-frontal cortex is one the last places in the brain to fully mylleinate (develop), and so their emotion-based reasoning system does not fully come on line until they are 18-22. As the insurance commercial goes: Why do teenagers driver like they're missing a part of their brain? Because they are.
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