Book – Blink
Author – Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. Now, in Blink, he revolutionizes the way we understand the world within. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant – in the blink of an eye – that actually aren’t as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work – in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others? – Goodreads Synopsis
Malcolm Gladwell novel’s best feature are the story telling and the examples that he uses. Even though they all relate to the main point he is telling, I find myself not caring about the main theme of the book. The little snippets of history and research that he does is so enthralling to me that I forget everything else that is going on. I really can not recommend anything this guy does enough. (I know what you are thinking: “Chaz never shuts up about that Brandon Sanderson guy, now Gladwell too?!”)
The Revisionist History podcast was recommended to me after I had read Outliers, which was what had introduced me to Gladwell’s works. It immediately gave me that enthralling experience that I talked about above in every episode that I listened to. (Which is all of them…) I looked around for similar podcasts to scratch the itch once I had finished listening to everything that has been released so far, but nothing could come close. The way that Malcolm Gladwell tells his stories is phenomenal.
The concept of taking little pieces of forgotten history and doing full-scale journalism research on it, and then presenting it with strong narration, puts together something that works perfectly.
The main idea that is presented in Blink is the subtitle of the book: “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”. This is simply broke down into if making snap decisions, or over-thinking decisions leads to better results. Gladwell goes on with many different examples to prove his point that maybe we spend too much time and gather too much information about something before we make a decisions, when the examples show that even after all of that extra work, the percentage rates of that decision being the right one are not effected or sometimes worse. (Good thing I’m bad at doing both of those!)
Some of the examples which are utterly fascinating that Gladwell uses to support the Thin-Slicing are:
- Being able to tell the difference between a legitimate work of art and a counterfeit.
- Figuring out if a relationship will work or not work just by observing a small conversation.
- If too much information can lead to worse results in war games.
Much of Gladwell’s examples of Thin-Slicing are related to what he has called “Mind-Reading”. This is actually reading the expressions and micro expressions on the peoples faces as we interact with them. Those can tell us much about what is really going on in peoples mind, as some researchers have shown can not hide lies. If you have ever seen the TV show “Lie to Me” then you know all about this. (Which was a good show! Go check it out!)
What he is saying makes sense though. If you have ever interviewed someone, or if you have ever had an off feeling about someone, you probably noticed or felt that gut instinct due to some social ques that you picked up on. I know it is something that I think about a lot when I am interviewing tons of people for positions. I have always felt that I had a great judge of character, but it might be that I just instinctively can read people’s eyes better than most. (Hey, already putting Gladwell’s stuff to work!)
Gladwell presents some neat ideas with some very interesting examples, but I’m not sure if equating police mistakes to “temporary autism” sounds very good. I pretty much can get behind everything that he puts forth in this book, but that one I’m still not too sure about it. It makes sense…I just don’t know.
I think over the next few weeks I will probably think about how I make decisions more and more, and try to see if anything he has said I can use in some way. Gladwell tells a story about how putting up a barrier screen helped remove biases from auditions into an orchestra, and how it brought in many women who were even better musicians than the men, but were previously shut out due to said bias. Maybe there is some place I can use a theory like that in the industry that I am currently in. Time will tell.