Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Community of Outliers [Introduction]

Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups

The opening chapter of Outliers is "interesting and revealing," one of our participants noted.

Malcolm Gladwell opens his book with a narrative about this small town Roseto, Pennsylvania, where residents seemed to have an unusual predisposition for good health. During the 1950s, hardly anyone under age sixty-five had heart disease in Roseto, even though heart attacks “were an epidemic in the United States” and “the leading cause of death in men under the age of sixty-five.”

According to Gladwell, the citizens of Roseto had “created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world. The Rosetans were healthy because of where they were from, because of the world they had created for themselves in their tiny little town in the hills.”

What did you find most notable or fascinating about the Rosetans, and why?

Or, what insight did you gain about the role of community in the development of outliers?


Stephen King said...

I was fascinated that the Rosetans were so healthy despite how they ate and lived their lives. I was amazed because they ate poorly and many suffered from obesity. Obesity is usually a sign of unhealthiness, but in their case, they still could live long lives.

Community plays a key role in creating differences in community or outliers. Community has more of an effect on each individual that lives there. For example, if an individual comes from a rough neighborhood, they will probably be more cautious anywhere. Stephen K.

Anitra Bell said...

I found it fascinating that the Rosetans were still so healthy in America after they'd changed their diet and habits of those back in Italy. In America they were cooking with and eating less healthy foods that the Americans were using, but they were healthier than the Americans.

It also amazed me that they were able to block out the pressures from the modern world. The sense of their own little community had such an effect on everybody's health. I've always heard that the people you surround yourself with can effect who you are, but I never thought of it in terms of effecting your health.
Anitra B.

Ashley A. said...

I found the strong sense of family and their friendliness toward one another fascinating. That is something that you don't see everyday, especially in society today. All of the Rosetans must have really felt like part of a group.

There wasn't a single person that was an outlier, but as a community they were. Typically, outliers aren't depicted as an entire group. The fact that they were an outlier as a community is actually more fascinating than their friendly ways.

Christie Jordan said...

I found it fascinating that since the Rosetans cut themselves off from society, they ended up with a healthier state of mind and body. This story shows that the stress from society causes psychical damage to your health. Perhaps eating isn't the main contributing factor to health diseases that deal with obesity.

I also found it fascinating that the Rosetans were psychically unhealthy but mentally they were okay. Their diets were unhealthy but they still managed to avoid health diseases. This raises many questions to me and makes me wonder if your happy and your health is okay, does how society see you really matter?

Antione Lane said...

I found it fascinating that the Rosetans were able to maintain their health despite the fact that they had developed an American diet. Obesity, in many cases, is a sign that a person is unhealthy and needs to change their diet but the Rosetans managed to live long healthy lives while being obese.

The community they had built eliminated the stress others might experience. In their small town, everybody knew everybody and it was nothing but smiles and good times.
Antione L.

Unknown said...

I am interested in finding out more about how Galdwell will explain our understanding success like Wolf explained our understanding of health. This book already seems fascinating and I can't wait to see what Outliers has to offer.

Andrea Rice said...

I found it fascinating that the Rosetans could adapt their lifestyle and still maintain the level of health they were previously at. I think it says a lot about how the environment you grew up in will affect you even if you change your habits to some degree. The fact that they were such a close knit community was also very interesting.

This is something you see a lot with small towns, etc. They essentially all came over from the same place and therefore, the need to branch out was probably unnecessary for them. From what I gathered it was almost like they even picked up where they left off and incorporated some American influence while still blocking out most of the world.

Andrea R.

Brianna B said...

I was fascinated at the controversial answer Wolf came up with to explain the Rosetans health. I think its fascinating that something as small as a community's culture can have such a large effect on so many generations of health.

I feel like the role of community in developing outliers is best summed up by, "They had yo appreciate the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are." (11)

Aliyah Butler said...

I thought that it was amazing how tight-knit their community was. They took care of one another to build a stable community instead of fending for themselves. I also liked how they were able to hold onto their morals despite being surrounded by other cities with differing views. This shows the strength in their character.

I now realize how important it is to have a strong community. A person’s community is their safety net; when they fall their community is there to pick up the pieces. They help them face the world. A strong community is like having a strong family; they will always have your back.

Unknown said...

After reading the introduction, I found it fascinating of how the Rosetans created their own world. Generally in America, we try to make things more complex than they are. Because we are medicine dependent or dependent on numbers for statistical reasons,we forget that culture plays apart of our health.
Although, they weren't the healthiest when it came to eating, I think their lack of stress is what kept them from having such a prevalent disease. As simple as the concept is, it would be virtually impossible to imitate the Rosetans because of the American culture. This is one of the reasons Wolf found it hard to persuade the other physicians to look at health in a different perspective. The medicine field these days are hard to convince when there isn't any concrete, scientific proof.

-Belainesh Nigeda

Celeste Cade said...

What I found most fascinating was the link between health and social well being. The Roseto community, lived among us yet secluded themselves. They consumed a normal unhealthy American diet but they did not die of heart disease like average Americans under 65 years old.
Stewart Wolf anazlyzed how they treated one another and realized that because of close knit community and helped them remain healthy despite bad factors. The Roseto community was like a huge family that cooked for another, communicated face to face, and cared about one another. It's amazing that something like be a friendly neighbor can be so powerful.
Celeste C.

Jermeia Avery said...

The Rosetans are fascinating people. It seems they packed there town of Roseto Italy, which seem to be failing, and moved it to Roseto Pennsylvania and made it sufficient. They are using their resources to allow them to separate themselves from the outside, and they were prosperous.

The health of the Rosetans also fascinated me. They kept life simple, and by doing that they were able to live longer. They were dying of old age after living full lives. not lives of drugs and alcohol but of community and growth.

Unknown said...

I was really fascinated at how healthy and well off the Rosetans were considering how big and despite how unhealthy they ate.

I liked their sense of community and that made me feel that the name for the book was picked perfectly because they could only be outlier as a whole if only one person was different then it wouldn't fit the definition of an outlier. Sierra L.

Anonymous said...

There is increasing evidence for viral infections (especially from enteroviruses) precipitating heart attacks. Enteroviruses are respiratory viruses, which can be caught through kissing or close social contact.

The Roseto Italians lived in a traditional close-knit community with probably lower levels of contact with outsiders, and most likely with lower levels of sexual and amorous promiscuity than the average American. This behavior may well have protected the Roseto Italians from picking up viral infections, thereby reducing their heart attack risk.

There are around 460,000 fatal heart attacks per year in the US, with 40% of these (184,000 deaths) linked to enterovirus infections (reference here: ).

So any lifestyle that can prevent the spread of enteroviruses in a community will likely result in lower rates of heart attacks.

This is not to say that good food and and a supportive family network don't play a role in reducing heart attacks as well; but the fact is that enteroviral infections are likely the major mechanism of precipitating heart attacks.