Thursday, May 08, 2008

Book Report: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Title: Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is a non-fiction essay about the ability of the human mind to make highly accurate snap judgments, the process by which we make these kinds of judgments and pitfalls and dangers that can occur when we don't realize what influences this kind of decision making.

My thoughts:
This book was highly recommended to me by many people. Several of my managers at work are Gladwell disciples and have also recommended his earlier work The Tipping Point.

There are also some pretty smart bloggers out there who recommended Blink as well as one of my favorite football coaches.

So why all of the acclaim? Well, for one thing this is a really well written piece of non-fiction. Gladwell covers several case studies where split second decision making has been successful and where it has led horrible, tragic mistakes.

Case studies run the gamut from marriage to military games (not much difference there, right?) and from fine art to speed dating.

Gladwelll introduces fancy terms like "rapid cognition" and "thin slicing" that and explains them in a clear and entertaining way.

There is also a fascinating discussion of facial expressions, or rather the various component parts of facial expressions made up by the various individual movements of facial muscles.

Microexpressions, as they are called, can involuntarily reveal a glimpse of a person's true emotional state to the trained observer.

And interestingly, just as emotional states cause these involuntary facial movements, voluntarily producing certain facial movement can influence one's emotional state. It's a two way street.

Gladwell's writing style is conversational and easy to read, a reflection no doubt of his time in the newspaper world.

It's a fast 320-page read and the insights into how our minds work (or don't work, in some cases) makes it well worth your time.

Rating: Recommended

Note: Read additional 3AM Book Reviews here.

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  1. Gladwell is a stud, although I liked The Tipping Point more than Blink. He's got a new one coming out this summer, I believe. It's about the ideal workplace.

  2. Shane stole my thunder. I've read both of these, as well. I agree.


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