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Blink’s Back-of-Book Description
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?
In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of “blink”: the election of Warren Harding; “New Coke”; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police.
Blink reveals that great decision makers aren’t those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of “thin-slicing”-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.
This is not a new book, by any means. In fact I remember seeing someone reading it about nine years ago – and even back then I wanted to read it. (Who knows what held me back for nine years, but hey – at least I finally got around to it!)
Like all the other Malcolm Gladwell books I’ve reviewed on here, this is a nonfiction book based on societal behaviors and patterns. In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, he talks about the way people make split decisions and the differences between “thin slicing” and long, drawn-out decision making.
The main thing to keep in mind with this is that there are two types of split decisions – gut reactions, and underlying assumptions.
Gut reactions also referred to as “thin slicing”, is exactly what you think it is – immediate reactions seemingly based off nothing but emotions. He talks about how most people’s gut reactions are usually accurate. For example, you have a bad feeling about an object or a situation, and more often than not, that gut feeling proves to be correct.
Now, the underlying assumptions aspect is a little different. It’s more about the beliefs and expectations people hold – whether they realize these beliefs or not (more commonly, they do not) – and how those beliefs affect their behaviors and decision-making. Really, really interesting stuff that can definitely be applied to the behaviors we’re seeing in the media today.
One anecdote that stood out to me in the early chapters of the book was about doctors and their chances of being sued for malpractice. If you took just simple sound bites from doctor’s office visits, you could accurately predict the probability of a lawsuit, all based on the manner with which the doctor treats the patient.
Apparently, malpractice lawsuits rarely have anything to do with the instance of bad medical practices and more to do with the way the doctor treats you. For example, maybe your doctor misdiagnosed you, but you genuinely feel like they care about you and have taken the time to get to know you. When that is the case, you’re incredibly less like to sue. If it holds true, that’s amazing!
In fact, the whole book was really interesting! Although I will admit that it took me a bit longer to get through it than some of Gladwell’s other books.
It should also be noted that the research and science behind his theories and anecdotes have probably changed or been updated in the last decade. But even so, it does provide some interesting perspectives and plenty of dinner table conversation starters.
Buy it now!
Favorite Quotes From Blink
“We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it.”
“… what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on autopilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realized.”
“In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.”
“But our involuntary expressive system is in many ways even more important: it is the way we have been equipped by evolution to signal our authentic feelings.”
“The key to good decision-making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. we are desperately lacking in the latter.”
“The real me isn’t the person I describe, no the real me is the me revealed by my actions.”
I think overall I’d give Blink 4 stars. The information and valuable insights alone make it worth the buy. Even though it might be dated and a little hard for some people to get into, those who do will most definitely find new information and consider things about their thought process that they wouldn’t have otherwise.
I think this would probably make a great gift for the nonfiction reader in your life, or someone who is really into psychology and/or thought processes.
This post was proofread by Grammarly.
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