Blink By Malcolm Gladwell

February 12, 2009
By Alex Barinka BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
Alex Barinka BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Judging the book by its cover, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, the underlying theme of the book is communicated immediately. The 'task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately'.

Gladwell opens the book with an obvious illustration of 'intuitive repulsion' when educated art gurus are introduced to a piece that has been scientifically proven as true, but ends up being a good copy. The idea of the hunch ignored by art experts because of an influx of information is what the author demonstrates countless times through a plethora of seemingly unrelated stories.

A major point was made in the relation of U.S. Military man Van Riper and the Millennium Challenge. Gladwell smartly included the dynamic story of the military simulation to wrap up the reader in action and bang his point home. Van Riper was assigned Commander of the fictional foe of the U.S. Military as they tested out their new tactics. The military had forms and formulas, acronyms and infrastructure while Van Riper was dubbed a rogue leader in a poorly protected, anti-American country. The theoretical U.S. had the manpower, the gun power, and the brainpower to break down every action and counter every predicted move by the foe and they were given other significant situational advantages. Van Riper had his gut instincts. Who won the simulation? Van Riper and his split second decisions. The U.S. leaders 'were so focused on the mechanics and the process that they never looked at the problem holistically. In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning'.

Gladwell presents his case in the telling of a wide range of studies and experiences. He narrates each anecdote as if he were simply out to entertain. By doing so, he successfully captures the attention of the reader before inserting the scientific angle. Gladwell integrates tales of the Aeron office chair of the Herman Miller furniture company with the plight of misdiagnosing heart attack victims and the social mannerisms of a person with autism and the success of Warren Harding, to name a few, and still finds a way to tie them back to the central theme of having better judgment with less information. He explores a unique interpretation of decision making, taking the validity away from thoughtfulness and removing the weight from pros and cons.

Yet the piece was not without fault. Sometimes convoluted, skipping from story to story within a chapter leads to some confusion by the reader. Although the variety of topics adds to the depth of study, the sometimes haphazard arrangement does lead to slight chaos. Nonetheless, Gladwell succeeded in expressing a very interesting interpretation of the unconscious in a manner that did not read like a scientific essay.

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