February 13, 2009
By Anonymous


Malcolm Gladwell writes about the patterns of the thought process when a mind is presented with a new idea or situation in the book Blink. More specifically, he focuses on the first few moments when a person's brain is summing up all it sees and adjusts the person's initial reaction to fit it, hence the subtitle The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. Through the use of numerous examples, Gladwell paints a picture about how the brain can make lightning fast decisions that will turn out to be correct with no further information than that gathered by a snapshot of the situation or problem. This method, which he coins 'thin slicing', is all about how the mind can look at just a few key factors in a single moment and come up with a conclusion without looking at the big picture. Those who are known to be excellent decision makers and brilliant analysts are often just gifted when it comes to looking at something and being able to pick the right variables to look at in their thin slicing. One of his examples include an interactive experiment where the reader is asked to choose as quickly as possible whether a word or a picture is associated with 'European American or Bad' or 'African American or Good.' While the test seems easy enough, most who do it as fast as they can while mess up when it comes to the picture of the black man and associate it with bad. They're not racist; it's just what the mind picks up in the brief moment you give it to choose between the two options. Blink is an intelligent and wonderfully probing look at the way people think and have been thinking since the beginning of man.

Malcolm Gladwell is beyond brilliant in his observations and is capable of making some of his most convoluted explanations or experiments easy for a person to understand. He supports each of his theories with many labs and examples that leave the reader dumbfounded with the amount of thought and preparation that Gladwell put into his research. He writes with levity that allows the reader to be at ease while reading even though the subject is one that is more thought provoking than most. He keeps his thoughts and examples detailed without becoming long-winded and keeps the reader entertained with his own thoughts mixed in, relevant or not.

Redundancy is Blink's only real problem. Gladwell is so thorough in his research though he offers little else. The entire book is example after example and so forth, while he does present his own thoughts scattered throughout the book, he spends all of his time reinforcing his thin slicing idea so that by the middle of the book the reader is already convinced and ready to move on to another point.

Malcolm Gladwell's Blink allows us to delve into our own thought processes and see what it is that allows us to make those blink-of-an-eye decisions that we are forced into and sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

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