Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

February 9, 2009
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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is a nonfiction book from Malcolm Gladwell, who is also the author of The Tipping Point. In Blink, Gladwell tries to convince the reader that 'Thin-Slicing' to form decisions is just as effective and much more efficient than research or any conscious thought process. That is nearly the entire book. There is no terribly useful information held within Blink; it is no life-changer. One either believes him or they don't. His lengthy meandering and plentiful examples felt very unnecessary for the development of his idea.

'Thin-Slicing' is the act of a person unconsciously making decisions about situations based upon very small portions of information. Gladwell's main argument is that 'Thin-Slicing' is more valuable than making informed decisions. This argument contradicts the philosophy of many in our society where we think before we act. Therefore, Gladwell felt that it was important for him to give many anecdotes or studies that halfway prove his notion. Unfortunately, this method is a result of a great deal of research and careful planning, and thus is already hypocritical. In addition, it makes the book lose its focus. For example, within one sub-section of a chapter, Gladwell initially discusses speed dating, but he quickly redirects to a talk about tennis, which is followed by some baseball, then a nice story about people pulling ropes and finally ends with a description of part of O.J. Simpson's trial. This was all just to show inconsistencies in stories that are told and what actually happens. All of that is a tad much for such a simple thought and ultimately, I have no greater understanding of the concept than after his first example.

Gladwell's ramblings aren't all terrible. They may do nothing to help better establish his view of decision making, but quite a few of them are very intriguing. He changes topics so much, and covers so many neat studies and stories that you actually feel like you are learning something. Not what was intended, but you are still learning. The book has a nice read about signs of a bad marriage as well as different reasons for speed dating. Very interesting parts include instances like the Millennium Challenge or various battles. These are things that you are unlikely to learn about during your day-to-day life, but are fascinating.

Overall, Blink was very unconvincing and dragged on for much longer than it needed to. If you pick up Blink, don't pick it up to discover 'thin-slicing', you already do it. If this is your reason for reading Blink, then I can sum up the entire book for you now: you subconsciously make accurate decisions about situations within seconds, but desires or certain negative influences can hinder the worth of said decisions. If you want to enjoy Blink, then read it for the mindless fun of the anecdotes. These varying stories are entertaining, yet still small enough to be read in short intervals of time. Actually reading Blink with the expectation of changing your view on 'the power of thinking without thinking' will just leave you sorely disappointed.





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