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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Paperback – April 3, 2007
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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 alternate Paperback edition.
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 alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm a bottom-line kind of person and I don't read for fun; I read to gain applicable knowledge. Gladwell proved his concept in the first 30-50 pages and that was good enough for me. He then proceeded to continue proving the concept for another 200 pages. I hardly learned how to actually apply the concepts of rapid-cognition from this book and I'm annoyed at how much of my time was wasted. I wish he proved the concept in 30-50 pages and followed it up with actual ways to take advantage of that concept.
This book verified something that I believed to be true (rapid-cognition) without providing ways to practically exploit the theory. I'm not buying anything else of Gladwell's, but I would recommend looking up the sparknotes/summary of this book.
This book covers that state of mind in a fun and thorough fashion with examples of how we can act under various scenarios and also be satisfied with what we did when we look back on an event.
However, the trick to be able to operate that way comes from much deeper - you have to have the right personality - or develop one - that is calm, self-reliant and self-trusting. Being the type that is 'sorry' for this and that, or complaining about anything at all, is not one that can generate good 'blink speed' decisions.
The organization of the chapters seemed a bit strained, and I would have preferred a more scientific approach to the subject matter.
Harding was elected President in 1920 by 60 per cent of the electorate. It was one of the largest vote majorities in American history. His predecessor, Woodrow Wilson, had been elected and reelected by narrow pluralities and helped by a divided Republican party in 1912. After being reelected in 1916, Wilson led the country into World War I that began with a burst of patriotism but ended in dubious European diplomatic machinations and in anger and disillusionment.
Gladwell mentions polls of historians that rank Harding as among the worst Presidents in American History. The poll of historians Gladwell is probably referring to is the 1962 poll commissioned by Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. President Kennedy was invited to participate because he was a published author of history, Kennedy declined, because after one year in office, he said he understood the role events played in making or breaking a presidency. Kennedy did comment, after seeing the results, he thought the poll had overrated Woodrow Wilson.
What makes Harding's presidency the worst? Well, no doubt his was the one where a foreign army invaded the United States and burned down the Capitol and the White House? Wait a minute that was another President.
The upshot of Harding's presidency was this: Harding died of congestive heart failure two years and five months into his Presidency, just as the Teapot Dome scandal boiled over. Coolidge assumed the Presidency upon Harding's death. Coolidge appointed a bipartisan team of special prosecutors. They indicted two cabinet officers. One was convicted, the other acquitted. The acquitted cabinet officer was forced to resign by Coolidge. Then he wrote a book blaming Harding for everything. Harding was unavailable for comment. Coolidge was elected to his own Presidency by 54 per cent of the vote in 1924.
Where the historians saw idealism and nobility in Wilson, the electorate came to see megalomania and delusions of grandeur. Where historians saw Harding as a small town, corrupt Babbitt (referring to the character in the eponymous Sinclair Lewis novel), the electorate saw a familiar gilded age politician who was probably corrupt but wasn't a threat to their life and limb.
The real Warren G. Harding mistake here is in assuming that expertise is without bias. I just don't agree that Harding is an example of looks deceiving the voters. I think the voters knew exactly who Harding was and that was what they wanted.
But Malcolm Gladwell is a very original thinker and the rest of Blink is well worth your time.