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Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell’s “BLINK”  The Power of Thinking Without Thinking



I recently finished Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  I read it in a few sittings…. that good!
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a 2005 book by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he explores the power of the trained mind to make split second decisions.


Gladwell, in Blink, introduces two more phrases: “blink” and “thin-slicing.”
The author describes his subject as “thin-slicing”: our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, spontaneous decisions are often as good as—or even better than—carefully planned and considered ones.
Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, and popular music to reinforce his ideas.
Gladwell explains how an expert’s ability to “thin slice” can be corrupted by their likes, dislikes, prejudices and stereotypes, and how they can be overloaded by too much information.
Gladwell also tells us about our instinctive ability to mind read, how we can get to know what emotions a person is feeling just by looking at his or her face. He informs us that with experience, we can become masters at the game of “thin slicing”.
Gladwell maintains that we “blink” when we think without thinking. We do that by “thin-slicing,” using limited information to come to our conclusion.
In what Gladwell contends is an age of information overload, he finds that experts often make better decisions with snap judgments than they do with volumes of analysis.
Gladwell addresses the questions about thin-slicing and gives a wide range of examples of blinking from the worlds of experts in gambling, speed dating, tennis, military war games, the movies, malpractice suits, popular music, and predicting divorce.
Interspersed are accounts of scientific studies that partially, but never completely, explain the largely unconscious phenomenon that we have all experienced at one time or another in our lives.
Gladwell also mentions that sometimes having too much information can interfere with the accuracy of a judgment, or a doctor’s diagnosis. The challenge is to identify and focus on only the most significant information. The other information could be just noise and can confuse the decision maker.
Collecting more and more information, in most cases, just reinforces our judgment but does not help to make it more accurate. He explains that better judgements can be executed from simplicity and frugality of information, rather than the more common belief that greater information about a patient is proportional to an improved diagnosis.

One take-away from the book is that how we blink is a function of our experiences, training, and knowledge.  For example, Gladwell claims that prejudice is so unconsciously woven into our society that, despite intentions, it can affect our blinks.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell suggests this is why tall people are frequently seen as natural leaders.
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