The Ethnic Theory Of Plane Crashes

Gladwell starts off explaining a feud that took place in the late 1800s, between two Appalachian families in Kentucky. This chapter has a twist to it, as previous chapters have been about success stories. This chapter is a story about cultural norms and honor in a town called Harlan. In 1819, Harlan County was founded by eight British immigrant families. Two of the founding families, Howard and Turner had a long-lasting family feud that resulted in many deaths decades ago. An incredible fact about Harlan is that the same the Howard-Turner feud was going on there were identical clashes in other small towns in the Appalachians.

The Harlan feud was well-known due to its severity. The Harlan heritage and culture did have a great influence on how the Harlan’s lived. Anyone sent to investigate or sort out the dispute came back with no success. Recently, the feud was traced back to the early ancestors of Harlan, who depended on a culture of honor to survive.

I found the honor rule quite disturbing and was shocked by the killing and bloodshed over trivial issues. Murder rates are higher in the South, but crimes committed by a stranger against another are low, which to me is absurd, but to them was a culture thing. However, I found the social experiment interesting and entertaining, if this experiment is to be carried out today the outcome will be the same. Which says much about people and their culture. From the social experiment, students from southern states reacted to the insult more aggressively, with hostility, and anger than students from northern states.

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The southerners acted like they were in the nineteenth century, without being able to ignore the past and their strong cultural heritage. Finally, following Gladwell, cultural heritage and legacy is used to decide if a person will be successful in life. We can neither escape our ethnic histories nor ignore the past and the strong influence of our cultural heritage.

Gladwell starts off by writing a well-detailed crash of the Korean Air flight 801, which killed 228 out of 254 passengers. The Korean airline became one of the worst airlines over the years due to that incident. The airline was so bad that they were denounced by countries and organizations. We can think of an airplane crash as an outlier of failure, which was what the Korean airline was. However, they could rebound into success from failure. This chapter talks about cultural legacies and bad communication skills. Gladwell also uses the 1990 crash of Colombian airline Avianca Flight 052, as an example of poor communication skills, which eventually led to the crash. Depending on where we are from, we have different rules in our speech and interpretation. Some countries tolerate ambiguity more than others. He also talks about “PDI” that indicates power in some culture and countries.

I found the detailing of the crash amazing. Might be weird but, I was amazed at how well it was detailed. I was also fascinated at how the Korean airline went from an outlier of failure to success, which tells us that determination, persistence and hard work are paths to being successful in any aspect of life. I enjoyed Ratwatte views on the truth of what happens behind closed doors with pilots, Ratwatte also referred to bad report skill amongst pilots. Finally, I was intrigued at the ambiguity list, I never existed. A cultural legacy is a powerful force that impacts our attitude and interactions with others but, they can be countered when vital.

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The Ethnic Theory Of Plane Crashes. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from

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