New Yorker Essay By Malcolm Gladwell

When Thurber was writing about dogs, he was writing about men.

The virtues that seemed inherent in dogs—peacefulness, courage, and stoical indifference to circumstance—were ones that he felt had been lost by their owners.

We do a lot of this at — always going on and on about how A is just a metaphor for B, and blah, blah, blah. You didn’t really buy this boo because of some grand metaphor. In a piece bearing the deceptively unassuming title “Dog Story,” Adam Gopnik deploys his formidable dual storytelling torpedo of disarming personal anecdote and uncompromising scientific rigor to explore post-Darwinian views on dog domestication: [C]ountering [Darwin’s] view comes a new view of dog history, more in keeping with our own ostentatiously less man-centered world view. A marginally calmer canid came close to the circle of human warmth — and, more important, human refuse — and was tolerated by the humans inside: let him eat the garbage.

Dogs, we are now told, by a sequence of scientific speculators … Then this scavenging wolf mated with another calm wolf, and soon a family of calmer wolves proliferated just outside the firelight.

There are cases where the details of an episode have passed into history and are widespread in the literature. We try to make judgments about source attribution with fairness and in good faith. In retrospect, for example, we should have credited Miles Wolff's 1970 book about Greensboro, because it's central to our understanding of those events.

We sometimes fall short, but our hope is always to give readers and sources the consideration they deserve.

Gladwell claims two things: first, that Philby et al. And second, that they did less damage than the pointless, paranoid hunt for double-agents that followed their unmasking.

One of the themes of Gladwell's piece, and apparently of Macintyre's book, is that Brits like Philby were considered sound for reasons having to do with class and background, and were thus above suspicion.

Or, as Gladwell phrases it: The “cost” of the high-trust model was Burgess, Maclean, and Philby.

To put it another way, the Philbyian secret service was prone to false-negative errors.


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