Worst book club member ever

There are lots of reviews of Yukari Itwatani Kane’s Haunted Empire, but if you’re like the Macalope, you’ve been waiting to hear from one go-to source on such matters before forming an opinion:

Rob Enderle.

“Haunted Empire - Biased Author or Biased Readers?” (No link for obvious reasons.)

YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHICH ONE ROB THINKS IT IS.

What really surprises me about the book Haunted Empire, which predicts the decline of Apple, isn’t that Apple fans don’t like it.

Wait, is it that “Apple fans” don’t like it or that they think the arguments in it are a collection of dull-witted conventional tech wisdom like “market share is the only thing that matters” and “innovation is dead at Apple”? To the extent that “Apple fans” don’t like reading tired tropes, maybe it’s true that they don’t like them in book form better than any other form, but that’s hardly a knock.

That’s a given—Apple fans only want positive books and stories.

Just remember that for when he later says that the arguments against the book are nothing but strawmen and ad hominem attacks. How he keeps his head from asploding, given all the cognitive dissonance going on in there, is anyone’s guess.

There is an old saying that the only thing better than bad publicity is no publicity, and Apple’s effort seem to be driving this book onto the best sellers’ list.

If there is an accurate criticism to be leveled at Apple over this book it could be from Tim Cook bothering to issue a statement about it. It probably would have been better for him to just shrug it off.

Hey, look. The Macalope said something negative about Apple. And, surprise, he also thinks the company should be chastised for colluding to fix wages for high-tech workers. Turns out that many “Apple fans” don’t so much have a bias against bad news as they do against stupid arguments.

Pundit: Apple is dying!

“Apple fan”: Apple is not dying. It’s a wildly successful company with strong sales, huge cash reserves, and an unrivaled track record of innovation.

Pundit: You Apple fans just don’t want to hear bad news!

“Apple fan”: How did you get into this locker room? Are you even a member here?

Pundit: [eyes dart back and forth, runs from locker room]

What also amazes me is how worked up some folks are getting about this book and how many unfounded attacks the author is taking. I’ve been where she is.

She’s in Crazytown, USA?

As I write this, 21 Amazon reviewers have given the book 5 stars, 30 1 star and 6 of us are in the middle (I gave it 4 stars). Compare that to the Jony Ive puff piece—massively 5 star but poorly written—and it looks to me like Ykari Iwatani Kane wrote a balanced book.

Because it has more bad reviews, Rob assumes it’s a better book. That’s an interesting use of the Amazon ratings system. If he applies the same logic to his tech purchases that might explain his passion for HP devices. (The Macalope is now legally and contractually obligated to say “Zing!”)

There is a book written by another technology reporter that I generally recommend when talking about bias. It’s called True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. I’ve given it as a gift to folks I think are too invested in one party or overly religious about anything, because it basically proves that zealots are stupid.

Interesting. The Macalope will have to give it a look. He notices that it’s written by Farhad Manjoo, who now writes for The New York Times. Wonder what he had to say about Kane’s book:

After the book’s release earlier this week, Mr. Cook said in a statement that it was “nonsense.”

He’s right.

Huh. So there’s that.

“ENDERLE-RECOMMENDED AUTHOR SLAMS BOOK ENDERLE SAYS PEOPLE SHOULDN’T SLAM.” Back to you, Rob:

Tim Cook’s response to the books utilizes a straw man argument and a variant of ad hominem.

Which is not OK for Tim Cook to do but it’s totes OK for Rob to do.

… Cook’s comments support the theme that he may be delusional.

A-mazing. Don’t try that kind of mental gear-switching at home, kids. It’ll fry your brain-clutch.

What folks often forget is I that panned the iPhone on the Today show when it was launched, largely because I believed an attractive screen phone would cause a lot of kids to die in cars since they’d have to look at it to text. I’ll always wonder how many kids would be alive if folks listened to my why and didn’t just jump on me for being negative about what became an incredibly successful product.

Apple, as we all know, invented texting, so this is a perfectly logical thing to say on national television. Also, since there are more Android phones in use wouldn’t Google be the one to have murdered more of today’s youth by letting them send text messages?

Anyway, the nut of Rob’s nutty argument is that you might want to read the book because it’s negative and you don’t want to rule out negative opinions. The problem is, Rob, all the reviewers say the arguments are not just negative, they’re bad. As in poorly constructed and defended.

You know what else you don’t want to do? Fill the coffers of people who write lousy books based on already debunked claptrap (see the Macalope’s collected works for debunking of the kinds of arguments Kane makes). The Macalope would happily pay to read a good book about Apple, even if it were negative. But read a book that cherry-picks anecdotes in order to support a pre-conceived conclusion that Apple is doomed?

The Macalope’s read that book. He reads it every day.

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