Ashley's Reviews > Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
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May 31, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2007-oct-to-dec-only
Recommended for: everyone
Read in October, 2007

I would put this book in the category of "Freakonomics" and "The Tipping Point." By the same author as the latter title, Malcolm Gladwell, the purpose of this book is to weigh the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the power of the mind's ability to unconsciously leap to conclusions based on what is seen in the proverbial blink of an eye.

While I have read some negative reviews of Gladwell's book, mostly citing that he fails to inform the reader how to know when to go with your gut and when not to, as well as arguments that he urges readers not to follow their gut when the gut instincts are politically incorrect, I have to disagree with many of them. I think that Gladwell's objective in "Blink" is to make the reader simply aware of their gut instincts and to urge them to consider trusting it more frequently than we do. People tend to make decisions that are supported by a litany of rationalizations and explanations, but do we always really have reasons for why we do or think what we do? Gladwell is arguing that we don’t, and that sometimes it takes the unconscious mind to make those decisions for us. On the flip side, he also argues that sometimes we unconsciously make negative decisions based on that same quick judgment and our predetermined stereotypes, such as with people of other sexes or other races than ourselves.

“Blink” was a very complicated book with many facets and it’s hard to explain all of them or review them all without writing an essay. In the end, I think the main goal isn’t perfect knowledge of the subject of thinking without thinking, but rather consideration of it and how it can benefit us or hinder us both individually and as a society.
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04/21 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Michael Fournier Freakonomics...another book I despised.

Kahla I totally agree with your review... thanks for a nice counter to some of the harsher critics.

Stephanie Very well said. I totally agree. Very hard book to understand.

Maikeru I totally agree with you. I believe the problem with the bad reviews (some, not all of them) about this book is that people who are reviewing it interpret the book as a self-help book. And that's just what it isn't.

This book is about what really happens with us, our judgements and decisions; it is not an helper.
The book tells us that, on some occasions, we should be more reliable in our unconscious impressions and in others we should be careful with these same impressions. It up to us to decide in which situations we must rely more, or less, on these impressions.
It is not those kind of books that tell you to do this and that, in these and those situations because you'll thrive that way.

Basically what I think some people are missing is the point of this book.

Luis Arcadio I've read quite a lot of bashing of this book in reviews that clearly showed the reader was expecting self-help tips on decision making. This is not the author's goal in the book as much as providing an informative description based on scientific knowledge that teaches us how --possibly why-- our mind works in given circumstances while warning us of our need to take into consideration how the human mind is wired in explaining human behavior. The book is repetitive and the main point is made quite early, yet I enjoyed the examples and differing situations that were used to buttress the ideas on human perception and cognition presented in this book. It's not a black and white how-to manuel but a worthy addition to the growing body of knowledge about how we see in the mind using real life examples, and scientific study, taken from events many of us can relate to in one form or another.

message 6: by El-gabry (new)

El-gabry "People tend to make decisions that are supported by a litany of rationalizations and explanations, but do we always really have reasons for why we do or think what we do?"
Had Gladwell started his work with this and built it up to prove it in the end, linking his original thesis, then yes I would accept this argument. However this was not the case; instead, the reader experienced a very slow moving work that insisted on including various experimental data that at many times contradicted the author's message (where at times maybe beneficial, but turned out to be exhausting).

message 7: by Josh (new) - added it

Josh Pummill Very well said. I hope others can navigate past some of the angry reviews and keep an open mind.

message 8: by Courtney (new) - added it

Courtney Chinn I've read so many negative reviews on this book as well as his others. The way he wrote this is similar to how he wrote David and Goliath- setting up his theory and giving examples to support it so I can see how others would complain. However, I agree with you when you said that he was helping you to consider how powerful spilt second decisions could be versus the long and drawn out thinking process that we may often think to be the better route. Not only does he do this in this book, but in his other books he just expands your thinking for a while and helps you to consider other theories that you might have never considered beforehand.

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