Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell | E2/S3: Burden of Proof (Transcript)

Burden of Proof with Malcolm Gladwell

Episode 2| Season 3| Revisionist History
Length: 40 mins | Released: May 24, 2018

Malcolm Gladwell: Before we begin, a warning. This episode contains material that may be upsetting to some listeners.

Malcolm Gladwell: What wasÔøΩ Tell me a little bit about what Owen was like.

Tom Thomas: When Owen was born, he was screaming and his neck veins were out and the doctor said,  "This is a Viking," and I think that's kind of the way he lived a lot, that kind of passion. So that's that's the way he lived.

Malcolm Gladwell: The man speaking is Tom Thomas. He's sitting with his wife, Kathy Brearley. She's English. Both she and Tom are United Church pastors. They met when they were missionaries in Zambia. They have a son named Morgan and we're all at Morgan's house just outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania, a bungalow in a tidy subdivision. There are two little children running around and a big, friendly dog being big and friendly. Everyone has gathered to talk about Owen, the Viking, the son and brother who isn't there.

Malcolm Gladwell: My name is Malcolm Gladwell. You're listening to Revisionist History, my podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood. This episode is about Owen Thomas, a young man I never had the chance to meet. About what happened to him and why we shouldn't forget about him.

Malcolm Gladwell: I went to see Owen's family on a cold winter evening.

Kathy Brearley: We knew that he was kind of feeling down, feeling depressed in the last, what would you say, last month or so?

Tom Thomas: I didn't know that, you did. I didn't know he was depressed. I knew he was stressed. I knew he was stressed at school, finals.

Kathy Brearley: He was stressed by his classes.

Malcolm Gladwell: Owen went full out all the time at everything. His older brother, Morgan, says he couldn't keep up.

Morgan Thomas: So we were sort of like opposites. I was real good at giving like 80%, 75% and he wasÔøΩ Not everything, but just like, for example, school, schooling. he would not take anything less than a A plus. A, A minus, he was pissed. He had to get that A plus.

Kathy Brearley: Now we don't know if he was having difficulty remembering things because we never even asked. We never asked him that. We never even thought that there might be anything cognitive. We just thought this was somebody who's a type A person, who's kind of like demanding so much of himself.

Morgan Thomas: In retrospect I guess, when things like this happen, in retrospect, you can always try to look back and say,  "Oh, I should've seen this. I should've seen that."

Kathy Brearley: But the Sunday night he called, he really sounded depressed then. He really did. And now, you look back, we should have just got in the car and gone right then.

Malcolm Gladwell: What did he talk about in that last call?

To see the full transcript, go here.

Transcripts for the entire Season 1ÔøΩ ÔøΩ3 podcasts of Revisionist History are available here.

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