Book Review, Culture, Non-Fiction

Review: Malcolm Gladwell – Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding.” – Malcolm Gladwell

This book is Malcolm Gladwell’s second masterpiece. It focuses on snap judgements, particularly how some people are able to make quick decisions that save money and people’s lives, as well as present potential soulmates. In Blink, Gladwell also discusses how people try to make sense of unconscious decisions; how firefighters are able to make snap decisions under immense pressure, regularly; and why people fall for tall, dark and handsome men (sadly, I fall in neither category).

Gladwell presents a number of arguments for snap judgements, one of which involves thin slicing. In essence, thin slicing involves taking little bits of information about a situation and using them, collectively, to form an opinion about the said situation. Without giving too much away, Gladwell uses psychologist, John Gottman’s work on marriage counselling; and psychologists Samuel Gosling’s work on observing people’s personalities to show that thin slicing allows some people to make better snap judgements than the rest. This is one of his most compelling arguments in the book, given that it could be applied to many situations. Something that struck me while reading this argument was its application in the medical field. It is known that medical doctors are often faced with a wide array of symptoms experienced by a patient and only by taking every symptom into account, the doctor will be able to diagnose the patient with any illness and/or disease (albeit that they have a degree, the skill is still used and perfected).

Another highlight of the book is where Gladwell explores an aspect of the music industry, particularly how people respond to new artists. In doing so, the author attempts to make sense of first impressions in the music industry based on music executives’ expertise and tests done using focus groups. I found this interesting in light of the fact that new musicians, especially rappers (no shade), pop out of nowhere so often and become hits with the audiences.

Without becoming a summary of Gladwell’s Blink, I think it’s best to not explain every argument he makes.

The book is well written. It comes across as a collection of essays on the same subject but fits well enough together to form a compelling book. Any new idea and argument is explained easily enough to understand and comprehend. I can surely say this book is one that any reasonable person should read.

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Have you read this book? Share your thoughts in the comment section below 🙂

Recommended Reading:

  • Malcolm Gladwell – The Tipping Point
  • Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers: The Power of Success
  • Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner – Freakonomics

Praise:

“Trust my snap judgment, buy this book: you’ll be delighted” – The New York Times

“Brilliant … the implications for business, let alone love, are vast.” – Observer

Blink might just change your life.” – Esquire

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