Saturday, June 11, 2005

Book Review: "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell

Here I am trying to write something, while waiting for the caffeine of the coffee I’ve just drunk to kick in. Hopefully, that will be soon, so that I can think more clearly. In the meantime, I am actually torn between reaching out for the book or continuing with this blog entry. Well, I must not succumb to too much temptation in a day. Looks like I am going to engage in some frivolous banter than indulge in the book and end up not doing any work and going to sleep three hours later. That’s the problem with reading fiction. Something that I have kept away from for the longest time. Yet, when a bestseller is dangling in front of me, screaming at me to pick it up, it would be too cruel to reject it. Especially when it’s a free loan, and a good read.

Talking about books, I have just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink—The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” recently. Just as it’s title suggests, it’s a book about rapid cognition. Like, for instance, how you jump to a series of conclusion about a person, a house, a book about two seconds after being in contact with them. Have you ever laid your eyes on a newly introduced acquaintance and disliked them instantly? For no apparent reason? Well, it’s these sorts of split seconds mind processes that he explores in this book. We often call it intuition (gut feeling), but Mr. Gladwell would rather have us convinced that there is rationality at work too. He then goes on to explain that although it’s always good to gather as much information and spend some time in deliberating over all the possible choices, there are circumstances which call for snap judgments and first impressions to help us make the most out of a high stress situations. He calls this "the power of thin slicing"--which says that as human beings we are capable of making sense of situations based on the thinnest slice of experience. Much of this book is filled with examples of how thin-slicing skills are employed to yield better outcomes that those decisions made using careful analysis.
Though I very much agree with him (especially the section describing military warfare tactics), I advise readers to take it with a pinch of salt…The examples he provided to substantiate his arguments are brilliantly well-chosen to convince the readers. The book starts off with a bang, a refreshing read and undoubtedly a page-turner. Unfortunately, it loses steam along the way and somehow degenerates into a naggy old professor, trying to reiterate the same points to a bunch of students who are yawning with disinterest. Still, an insightful book worthy to pick up. The examples are quote worthy too.

Overall Rating: 4/5.

Comments: I suspect his earlier publication entitled “The Tipping Point” may be better than “Blink”. Waiting to lay my hands on it.

Daily Trivia: Despite its hump, a camel has a straight spine.


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