Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Malcolm Gladwell
(Little, Brown & Co., New York: 2005)

READ: November-December 2005

I haven't read The Tipping Point, Gladwell's earlier book that was a huge bestseller, but this book, Blink, is quite a quick and interesting read. It basically is about the gut reaction, the instinct - how people often think without actually thinking, and make choices that are much more complicated than they seemed. Of course, the real story is why this works for some people, in some cases, and not for others. Some very bad outcomes have occurred as a result of quick decisions. But likewise, so too does not every well-thought-out plan turn out to be a good idea. This book aims to explore the why of this - the background to how our brains really work and why, in some cases, those patterns mesh well with other attributes or circumstances: "Blink 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 'thin-slicing' - filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables." A little basic for someone with an undergraduate degree in psychology (at least, that was Randal's initial reaction when I told him the premise of Gladwell's argument), but for those of us who haven't, it's a fascinating read. And short. That's a good point in a book's favour, at least sometimes!

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