Malcom Gladwell is still outraged by hedge fund manager and billionaire John Paulson’s $400 million donation to Harvard this week. The best-selling author took to Twitter to express his frustration that the large endowment went to a university he believes doesn’t need the extra cash instead of to a worthier cause.
But Harvard professors soon fired back.
According to The Washington Post, Harvard is thrilled with the gift, which is the largest in the university’s long history. Gladwell, however, is less charmed, telling Paulson via Twitter, “It came down to helping the poor or giving the world’s richest university $400 mil it doesn’t need. Wise choice John!”
Malcom also took pot shots at Harvard University, tweeting “Harvard’s pitch to Paulson: not all privileged people are equally privileged!”, and wondering if “$200 mil is earmarked for a satellite campus on St Barts.”
Gladwell isn’t the only one expressing frustration. Vox reporter Dylan Matthews, who advocates against donating to Harvard, wrote, “giving to Harvard is not philanthropy. It’s not helping people who need help, and it’s obscene that Paulson is getting a massive tax write-off for it,” since most students already come from wealthy families.
MG Squared Investments, a small investment firm, agreed with Gladwell, suggesting the $400 million could’ve gone to causes with greater impact, including Associates Degrees for 63,877 Americans, feeding every child in D.C. for two years, and mosquito nets that would save the lives of 119,760 children overseas, reports The Washington Post.
But Harvard professors took to Twitter to fire back at Gladwell. Psychology professor Daniel Gilbert wrote “cheap jokes & bad logic. If you want to end poverty, research & education are the best investments.”
Venture capitalist T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of B.P. Capital, agreed that Malcom Gladwell’s tweets are out of line, according to Business Insider:
“My first thought was, hey, wait a minute, get the critic up there and ask, ‘Wait a minute, pal, how much have you given?’ You may find out he has given, but I have a hard time imagining anyone being critical of a charitable gift.”
A second hedge fund manager agreed, telling Business Insider, “It’s [Paulson’s] money, he doesn’t have to give it away at all if he doesn’t want. Here, he is plainly helping others and society. I can’t imagine criticizing that.”
This wasn’t the first time Gladwell has gone up against critics. In 2014, he was accused of plagiarism.
It looks like Malcom Gladwell might have his own critics, but Harvard University is still winning the argument.