Book Review: Blink by Malcom Gladwell

7 Sep

Just finished a book so it’s time for my first book review! Everyone strap in tight.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell

Gladwell was inspired to write this book after he was randomly stopped on the streets of New York and told he looked like a serial rapist the police were searching for. Upon seeing the photo of the suspect, Gladwell realized that the only thing he had incommon with the picture was his unruly curly hair. It made him think, how was I mistaken for this other man?

The result is Blink. In this work, Gladwell examines the ability of the human brain to make decisions in two seconds or less. If a piece of art is real or a fake, if the suspect of a police chase is pulling a gun or a wallet, and even our association between woman and family; all can be explained by the science of the brain. Gladwell works to explain that our brain has an overwhelming capacity to make a split second decision that we are unable to rationalize with drawn-out thought, but that those decisions are biased and have to be made under certain circumstances to be accurate.

I can’t remember why I put this book on my To Read shelf, but it went up there as soon as I got on Goodreads. It’s been sitting at the taunting #1 spot for months and I’m glad I finally conquered it. Gladwell has a way of giving you science, facts, and studies in a narrative voice that reads more like fiction. He’s a gifted storyteller. His examples have already been used on my co-workers and husband to make them see that I can tell in a second that they’re lying about where my highlighter got moved to.

Gladwell’s conclusion seems to be that we are generally able to assess quality quickly, but our ability to predict long-term results or the proper response to a crisis are muddled. For example, a conductor can pick out their next classical trombonist in two seconds, but a counselor can’t tell you how long your marriage will last after meeting you. There are various factors that impact our ability to make many of these decisions. If the conductor can see the trombonist, their posture or hairstyle might influence him before the trombonist plays a note. The couple might hold hands and avoid fights, but a breakdown of their facial expressions and conversation might reveal that they’re not very stable.

I’ll stop here before I spoil all of Gladwell’s wonderful examples. Just as a teaser, you’ll meet the women who can foil the Pepsi Challenge every time and a man who can explain what each muscle contraction in your face says about your emotional situation. Read on, fellow bibliophiles!

Quick read, recommended to those who are wary of non-fiction but are feeling adventurous, helped me feel smart.

 

Four out of five stars.

 

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One Response to “Book Review: Blink by Malcom Gladwell”

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  1. Goodreads Challenge: Complete! | Taking on a World of Words - December 20, 2013

    […] Blink by Malcom Gladwell (4) […]

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