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10.2.12

Gladwellified Writing

What X can teach us about Y

So I noticed a trend today while reading through some articles wherein titles follow the above format with surprising frequency. A little Google digging shows that this is all over the place, and that I'm not the only one that's noticed!

What's amusing is that my first thought when I noticed this was "GLADWELL!!!!" ::shakes fist::

The Salon author also mentions Gladwell and Freakonomics as likely causes for this cliche. What is it about these "connections" that get people so excited and draws them in?

As proof, here's a Gladwell piece following the WXCTUAY format:


Okay, okay, here's real proof:
Troublemakers: What pit bulls can teach us about profiling

I'm just going to go ahead and add WXCTUAY to my list of things I wish journalists would stop doing. No, scientists don't really "pinpoint" stuff, no, you don't need to add neuroscience nonsense to your story to "sex it up", and no, X doesn't teach us anything about Y, because X is an inanimate object or ephemeral concept.

WXCTUAY abounds, with 126 books on Amazon using it.

Here are some quick ones from around the web:
What The Wizard of Oz Can Teach Us about Bullying
What Frank Herbert's Dune Can Teach Us About the Power of Positive Thinking
What Bartleby Can Teach Us About Occupy Wall Street
What Sweden can teach us about nuclear waste
2 Things Charles Dickens Can Teach Us about Successful Presentations
What Mel Brooks Can Teach Us about "Group Flow"
Managing the Clock: What Sports Can Teach Us About Life
What the Scots can teach us about England's radical soul
What Pictures Can Teach Us About Walkability

Amusingly, though Salon called out this trend, they're quite enamored with WXCTUAY as well! Two quick examples:
What "Star Wars" can teach my son about life
What students can teach us about iPhones

Anyone out there seen any especially silly ones?