Blink is by Malcolm Gladwell
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell is a non-fiction book about the unconscious mind. In particular, though the part of the unconscious mind we automatically use to make split-second decisions, what he calls ‘thin-slicing’. We like to believe our rational mind weighs facts and determines outcomes in daily life but the fact is … that all takes time and a lot of our decisions and judgments are extremely quick and we really do not consciously think about them at all.
Take an easy example; minute facial expressions we use to determine whether someone is happy, sad, scared or more importantly angry, or others like deceitful, wary, shy, intrigued… and so many more. In fact 3000 of them. When I said 3000 facial expressions I bet you’d have a hell of time naming them but your brain recognizes these things intuitively. And better people train themselves to recognize minute micro expressions to help with their jobs, so we can, in fact, get better at this.
In the book, he goes on to go through numerous studies and examples of when thin-slicing helps us and when it fails us. It is a fascinating look at what is going on behind that veil of our conscious mind to see that while we may be the ghost in the machine… that machine is also running itself. It actually has to considering we are bombarded with a massive amount of information at every moment of the day the brain has to sort through rapidly to figure out importance. It begs the question… how much of that conscious mind is running the show? But he doesn’t go there as that is not within the scope of the book.
Why I picked up this book:
I was watching a late night show due to my profound insomnia that had the author on to talk about his new book. I have no interest in his new book but he referenced this book and the nature of the consciousness does indeed intrigue me.
What is good about the book:
He has a great flow to this work. He weaves many studies together into a context and stays within his game plan. He looks at a wide variety of topics to give us a wide range of ideas about how thin-slicing works. How our brain is designed to make these quick judgments and decisions. And when that fails us. What we could even do when that fails us. We need ways to get around it when it does not work in a certain context. And we need to utilize it when it does.
What is not so good about this book:
For all his focus on the subject, it is very narrow. I have in fact read about the subject before. The concept that our unconscious minds do a lot more work than we are usually aware of has been looked at before. I read a book that blew my mind in university it was so fascinating. This one did not blow my mind, but it is interesting. I just expected more depth. For his purpose, he succeeded. For what I desire, I would have liked more. That is not really a criticism because he clearly sticks within the confines of a specific way of looking at the topic and explaining the phenomena. This is not a philosophy book. Or a science book. It talks about thin slicing in life but you will not find any answers to consciousness here. Just, this is how the mind works in these specific situations. And perhaps what we might do about that. Which is fair. And interesting. And valid in its right because those raise valid questions.
I rank it 4/5
If he wrote another book on a topic that intrigued me, I’d read it. He is thorough and interesting.
1 thought on “Book Review: Blink”