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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without…

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

by Malcolm Gladwell

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An interesting discussion on how we think, how we make quick judgements, why we can, and how sometimes they go terribly wrong. Also how sight helps and hinders our decisions in some situations. I enjoyed listening to Malcolm read his own work, and admit I used it to tune out from the events of yesterday's Inauguration. His voice was quite soothing. :) ( )
  shaunesay | Jun 21, 2017 |
This was the first Gladwell book I read.

I read and finished it during my backpacking trip across Cambodia. I read it amongst the ruins of ancient temples, on bumpy dusty tuk-tuk rides, I held on to it while on the boat waiting for the freshwater dolphins to crest the surface of the mighty Mekong, sitting cross legged on the floor of the aisle of a public bus on the 2-hour ride back to Siem Reap...

But even without all that hazy semi-sense-of-adventure-backpacking state of mind... I would still recommend this book to anyone. Or any of Mssr Gladwell's books honestly speaking (up to the date of this review I have read them all except for 'Tipping Point' and 'David & Goliath', ironically -or maybe rather quite properly Gladwellian- the first & latest of his books).

In a nutshell, this book is about how intrinsically we know things. But how all that is usually drowned out or pushed to the corner of ones mind by a lot of good old crusty 'preconception', 'social upbringing' and 'societal brainwashing'. But maybe it's not something that comes when we think about it.

Anyhow the main concept/theory in this book is not bedrock to be sure, but somewhat elastic. Something to be taken with a grain of salt. Just as relying too much on facts and proof takes the fun out of life, not caring at all about facts and proof takes out the foundations of sound character.

Trust your gut, people. Trust your gut. But don't try too hard.

( )
  kephradyx | Jun 20, 2017 |
Fascinating and informative; though this book is purely information it is still entertaining to read: the best king of informative book. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
I don't usually read this type of best-seller business type book, but this one was fascinating. I've always been frustrated by how many choices of cereals we have in the grocery store. This books discusses the dangers of decision-making with too much information. When I ran two state agencies, my feeling was the state had analysis paralysis and leaders analyzed until it dies. That changed when I got there (and many people hated it because it meant action prevailed). This book discusses how quick decision making with limited information is usually more accurate when the decision is complicated. Base complicated decisions on intuition and what you already know. Regarding easier decisions, perhaps more information is better. But the ending has enormous impact for the racism and sexism prevalent in our society. I'm glad I gave this book a chance. My husband recommended it. ( )
  ErinDenver | Jun 12, 2017 |
In Blink, Malcolm Gladwell explores the phenomenon he calls 'thin slicing'; the human ability to winnow out, in fractions of a second, salient facts from a mass of information and make a decision based on them. Something most of us do all the time without giving it much conscious thought – reading the facial expressions and body language of the people with whom we interact, walking down a busy street (or a quiet street late at night), our subconscious minds processing hundreds or even thousands of bits of information, deciding which few are important and making a judgement based on them.

Gladwell illustrates his thesis using several extended examples. The first is relatively straight forward. In 1983 California's Getty museum was offered a 2500 year old Greek statue, a kouros, for $10 million. All the tests said it was genuine but several art experts, at first glance and without being able to say precisely why, knew it was a fake. He also tells the stories of how an ugly chair conquered the offices of the world, how we are all effected by racial conditioning, how Chicago's Cook County hospital improved diagnosis of heart attacks by removing a physician's knowledge from the process, how a commander using WWII technology defeated the combined might of the the US armed forces in the largest ever war game, and more.

The author uses two main studies to demonstrate how this process of instant assessment works. John Gottman's 'love lab', where he gets couples to talk about a subject tangentially connected with their relationship and videos the exchange to bring out the non-verbal cues, and Paul Ekman, who is an expert of facial micro-expressions that last microseconds and over which we have no control (this latter also being the model for the excellent TV show Lie To Me with Tim Roth). Gladwell builds his argument convincingly and refers back to his examples frequently for both illustration and dramatic effect. Each example he uses shows a different facet of the Blink effect but also, and this is vital, how it can go wrong in certain circumstances.

While it is quick, this subconscious ability does require a moment to work, and can be short circuited by rushing or by an overload of adrenaline. Another case study chillingly shows what can happen when our subconscious is not given the opportunity to work properly. In 1999 an unarmed, innocent man, Amadou Diallo, was shot 41 times in the entryway of his own New York apartment building, by four policemen. He shows how a lack of experience, over-hasty action and perhaps even the over-confidence of numbers allowed these policemen to fall back on crude stereotypes and allow an initial poor assessment to lead them down a tragic course of events.

While Gladwell lauds the benefits of both listening to this subconscious supercomputer and developing the skills, in backing up the studies he constantly refers to the fact that this understanding has often been achieved by the exact opposite type of mentation – deliberate, analytical evaluation of evidence. This, along with the examples given, should show the reader that there are appropriate and inappropriate areas for this sort of thinking, although I can imagine some of the readership taking away only the face-value lesson of relying on first instincts and gut feelings. I would have liked to see a chapter on the abuse of these impressions, which is after all how con artists and frauds such as psychics operate. This could have been perhaps added into the chapter on Warren G. Harding, who was elected as US president because he was tall, handsome, masculine, dignified – and is considered by historians to be one of the worst presidents in US history. I want to take nothing away from this excellent book, however. It is superbly written, making excellent use of pacing and the storylines of the examples he uses to give the book structure. Malcolm Gladwell has a great style, authoritative and engaging, and he packs a great deal of both information and analysis into what is a quick, easy and enjoyable read. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 8, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
Beyond question, Gladwell has succeeded in his avowed aim. Though perhaps less immediately seductive than the title and theme of The Tipping Point, Blink satisfies and gratifies.
If you want to trust my snap judgment, buy this book: you'll be delighted. If you want to trust my more reflective second judgment, buy it: you'll be delighted but frustrated, troubled and left wanting more.
"Blink" brims with surprising insights about our world and ourselves, ideas that you'll have a hard time getting out of your head, things you'll itch to share with all your friends.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Farhad Manjoo (Jan 13, 2005)
You can't judge a book by its cover. But Gladwell had me at hello — and kept me hooked to the final page.
As a researcher, Gladwell doesn't break much new ground. But he's talented at popularizing others' research. He's a clever storyteller who synthesizes and translates the work of psychologists, market researchers and criminologists.
added by stephmo | editUSA Today, Bob Minzesheimer (Jan 10, 2005)

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Malcolm Gladwellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gladwell, MalcolmNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my parents, Joyce and Graham Gladwell
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In September of 1983, an art dealer by the name of Gianfranco Becchina approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. (Introduction)
Some years ago, a young couple came to the University of Washington to visit the laboratory of a psychologist named John Gottman.
"We have come to confuse information with understanding."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316010669, Paperback)

Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.

Gladwell includes caveats about leaping to conclusions: marketers can manipulate our first impressions, high arousal moments make us "mind blind," focusing on the wrong cue leaves us vulnerable to "the Warren Harding Effect" (i.e., voting for a handsome but hapless president). In a provocative chapter that exposes the "dark side of blink," he illuminates the failure of rapid cognition in the tragic stakeout and murder of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx. He underlines studies about autism, facial reading and cardio uptick to urge training that enhances high-stakes decision-making. In this brilliant, cage-rattling book, one can only wish for a thicker slice of Gladwell's ideas about what Blink Camp might look like. --Barbara Mackoff

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:19 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

How do we think without thinking, seem to make choices in an instant--in the blink of an eye--that actually aren't as simple as they seem? Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, the author reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.… (more)

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