If you didn’t already know, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, What the Dog Saw, is a collection of his best essays as published in The New Yorker (all of which are available on his site for free, if you prefer to read them there).
Since its publication, journalists and scientists have been criticising Gladwell over what they perceive as his lack of scientific integrity (in preferring folk wisdom and over-simplifications than fully-researched science journalism).
If you want to read more about these criticisms, Seed summarises many of them in an article that looks evenly at the various disagreements and looks at how, in popular science writing, “where statistical rigor is actually applied, it takes the discussion to a level of abstraction that is not useful to the average reader”.
However I felt the most concise and unbiased conclusion comes from Mind Hacks:
While the two writers spar over the details, the subtext is that Pinker is a proponent of IQ being a reliable predictor of success with a significant genetic influence (see The Blank Slate) whereas Gladwell has argued that success is largely a combination of practice plus being in the right place at the right time (see Outliers).
Obviously these two approaches to explaining success don’t sit well with each other, hence, in part, the disagreement.