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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Paperback – April 3, 2007


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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking + The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference + Outliers: The Story of Success
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316010669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316010665
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,946 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Blink is about the first two seconds of looking--the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of "thin slices" of behavior. The key is to rely on our "adaptive unconscious"--a 24/7 mental valet--that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.

Gladwell includes caveats about leaping to conclusions: marketers can manipulate our first impressions, high arousal moments make us "mind blind," focusing on the wrong cue leaves us vulnerable to "the Warren Harding Effect" (i.e., voting for a handsome but hapless president). In a provocative chapter that exposes the "dark side of blink," he illuminates the failure of rapid cognition in the tragic stakeout and murder of Amadou Diallo in the Bronx. He underlines studies about autism, facial reading and cardio uptick to urge training that enhances high-stakes decision-making. In this brilliant, cage-rattling book, one can only wish for a thicker slice of Gladwell's ideas about what Blink Camp might look like. --Barbara Mackoff --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Best-selling author Gladwell (The Tipping Point) has a dazzling ability to find commonality in disparate fields of study. As he displays again in this entertaining and illuminating look at how we make snap judgments—about people's intentions, the authenticity of a work of art, even military strategy—he can parse for general readers the intricacies of fascinating but little-known fields like professional food tasting (why does Coke taste different from Pepsi?). Gladwell's conclusion, after studying how people make instant decisions in a wide range of fields from psychology to police work, is that we can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts—and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more. Perhaps the most stunning example he gives of this counterintuitive truth is the most expensive war game ever conducted by the Pentagon, in which a wily marine officer, playing "a rogue military commander" in the Persian Gulf and unencumbered by hierarchy, bureaucracy and too much technology, humiliated American forces whose chiefs were bogged down in matrixes, systems for decision making and information overload. But if one sets aside Gladwell's dazzle, some questions and apparent inconsistencies emerge. If doctors are given an algorithm, or formula, in which only four facts are needed to determine if a patient is having a heart attack, is that really educating the doctor's decision-making ability—or is it taking the decision out of the doctor's hands altogether and handing it over to the algorithm? Still, each case study is satisfying, and Gladwell imparts his own evident pleasure in delving into a wide range of fields and seeking an underlying truth.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996. He is the author of The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw. Prior to joining The New Yorker, he was a reporter at the Washington Post. Gladwell was born in England and grew up in rural Ontario. He now lives in New York.

Customer Reviews

We make snap decisions and outcomes are good or bad.
anand
I buy books like this to learn How to Do Something; to improve a talent, not to tell me that a something I know to exist, really exists.
Kevin D.
It's a quick read though so you won't waste too much time even though the book is a little drawn out.
Christofu

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

691 of 736 people found the following review helpful By E. Freeman on February 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Well, as a huge fan of Gladwell's last book, The Tipping Point, I was excited last week to finally get my hands on his new effort: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. This time around Gladwell's basic thesis is that often snap judgements (what he calls "thin slicing") can be more accurate than well researched, careful analysis. Gladwell uses many examples (most are interesting) to demonstrate this behavior such as determining when art is faked, sizing up car buyers, picking presidential candidates and determining the characteristics of a person by observing their living space. This has always been Gladwell's talent: taking just-under-the-radar topics and bringing them into the public's view through great journalism and storytelling.

Gladwell is also careful to examine the flipside of this phenomenon: the times when "thin slicing" misleads us or gives us the wrong results. For instance, he presents examples where the mind works based on biases that don't necessarily enter the realm of conscious thought, but are nevertheless there (age, race, height, and so on).

It's a great topic and Gladwell sets it up with some wonderful examples, but then the book begins to have problems. First, the book is a little too anecdotal. Anyone who has ever had a 200-level psych class knows that what looks like cause and effect may be accounted for by an independent variable that wasn't considered (e.g., concluding cancer rates are higher in some area of the country because of pollution, when in fact the area has higher smoking rates as well). Given this, I found that too often conclusions are made on basic handwaving, or that important aspects of studies are not mentioned.
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728 of 823 people found the following review helpful By Eric Antonow on January 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The mistake was too try and get all of these wild animals onto the same boat. The book a series of semi-socio-scientific articles on insight and intuition. It is not a cohesive theory.

The writing is enjoyable - I read the most of it in a single plane flight. Some of the insights provide building blocks for understanding how certain professionals (people who practice a subject or skill for many years) are able to develop an additional sense about things -- gamblers, art curators, policemen. They are essentially seeing something that doesn't register at the conscious-level but provides them a gut-feel about the thing. Actually, I should say that these articles are how this MIGHT be happening - it's more speculation based on the diverse theories of a number of different researchers. Individually the stories and ideas are believable. Unfortuately, Gladwell fumbles in trying take them into some unified theory that is comprehensible let alone cohesive -- at times you wonder "where is he going with this?". Without that thread the indivudal beads get lost and fade into memory as clever ideas...and not much more. Without confidence in the grand idea, the individual pieces begin to feel simply exploratory. It's a shame because there are some remarkable ideas. He's a good documenter of curiousities of research (sort of like a Ken Burns is to historical things) so the storytelling is good enough for entertainment. Another reviewer likened it the addage about Chinese food, tasty but hungry an hour later. I agree. Flawed but still some interesting ideas to puzzle over.
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232 of 272 people found the following review helpful By Louis Gudema on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a great admirer of Malcolm Gladwell's writing, having read him for years in "The New Yorker" and loving "The Tipping Point," his earlier book. But "Blink" is no "Tipping Point."

The idea here is that people often have intuitive first impressions that are more valid and valuable than carefully considered, well-thought-out, researched conclusions. Except when they aren't, because first impressions of individuals, for example, can be clouded by (and Gladwell even discusses this) such matters as attractiveness, gender, race -- and even height (what Gladwell calls the "Warren Harding" error). And how are we to know when our quick-as-a-blink reaction is valid and when it isn't? Well, that's the problem with the book. Ever experienced love-at-first-sight and then realized the person wasn't really everything you thought s/he was...?

This entire book flies in the face of an excellent article Gladwell wrote in 2000 called "The New-Boy Network" [...] about how worthless the typical job interview is (because it relies too much on gut impressions) and how "structured interviews" are the only worthwhile ones (an excerpt from the article: "This interviewing technique is known as "structured interviewing," and in studies by industrial psychologists it has been shown to be the only kind of interviewing that has any success at all in predicting performance in the workplace. In the structured interviews, the format is fairly rigid. Each applicant is treated in precisely the same manner. The questions are scripted. The interviewers are carefully trained, and each applicant is rated on a series of predetermined scales.")

Even examples he uses in this book are not very on-target, such as the Red/Blue military exercise he spends a considerable amount of time discussing.
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