Ariely: So the first thing I want to ask you is: How do you pick your topics?

Gladwell: I don’t really know — I mean, desperation? … I see things and I collect them, and I think they might be interesting. But there’s no theory or system. I go to the library sometimes, and I just sort of roam around; or I go on the databases and I just type in things at random, or I get articles and read through the bibliography…. But there’s no rhyme or reason. Someone will say something to me interesting, and I’ll follow up on it or something. To be a writer I think you’re kind of constitutionally disposed toward optimism…

This fascinating conversation between Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwellcontinues at the Journalism Resource organisation