Matt Kosinski's Reviews > Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
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Oct 18, 07

Read in October, 2007

Here's Blink in a nutshell:

Split decisions can be good; better than decisions where we take a lot of time to carefully weigh our options and use scientific evidence.

Except when they're not.

Rapid cognition is an exciting and powerful way to use your brain's quick, intuitive capabilities to make stunningly accurate decisions, and can even lead you to have better success in sports, business and politics.

Except when it won't.

We should learn to trust our snap judgments, even in seemingly complex situations where we don't have a lot of information.

Except not really.


Basically the book gives scientific and anecdotal evidence on why rapid cognition can be both a good and bad thing, without offering us much advise on how to tell the difference between situations where we should or shouldn't trust our instincts.

There are many times when I felt that Gladwell contradicted himself. To support his "rapid cognition is good" section of the book, he uses an example of a psychological test where students were able to tell whether or not a professor was good at their job by simply watching a 5 second clip of them lecturing with the sound turned off. The results basically corresponded with impressions given by other students who spent an entire class with those professors - thus proving that there is some mysterious and powerful part of our subconscious that can make accurate snap judgments.

But then later on in the book, in the "rapid cognition is bad" section, Gladwell warns us that, in general, people instantly like tall, attractive white people better than short, unattractive minorities.

WELL DUH! OBVIOUSLY THE STUDENTS RATING THE PROFESSORS WERE BIASED BY WHETHER OR NOT THEY WERE TALL, WHITE, OR ATTRACTIVE!

Mystery solved!

While Gladwell brings up some interesting concepts, his book never gels into a coherent whole. I read most of it in under a day and already my rapid cognition is telling me it's not worth finishing.
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Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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Mariecar Ditto ... well-written review.


Matt McClard i concur.


Marwa Ayad Great review...and I agree.


message 4: by Vic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Vic I concur with this review. Gladwell tries to make gray areas black and white and it rarely works.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL.... I read the back cover and basically it said the same thing as your review.



Greg I'm not sure if I need to still review this book. I might just have to link straight to yours.


Dirk Laukens Good review. I expected a little more advice in this book...


message 8: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Thanks. Very funny.


message 9: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly No idea how it became a best seller


Balkha Totally agree with this review. I did not bother to finish this book. Stii can;t understand why this book was such a big deal.


message 11: by Sumanth (new)

Sumanth Ƀharadwaj I agree with Kelly and Balkha but not everyone studies the brain and understands life at a 250ms timescale. Some need a reminder... It is probably a best seller because a lot of ppl need this reminder.


Hippster Wow! You pretty much summed it all up. The book did contain some interesting lil stories, but very self-contradictory.


message 13: by Assya (new)

Assya lol


message 14: by Chris (new)

Chris haha


Nadeem Ahmad Spot on.
Gladwell's books are like fast food with plenty of health labelling. They are satisfactory until you realize it was all a lot of facts, stories and anecdotes to illustrate what could have been said and understood without the saga that accompanied it.


message 16: by Dimi (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dimi 100% correct summary.


message 17: by Mahesh (new) - added it

Mahesh Kumar ha ha ha.. exectly wht i feel abt it... nt worth finishing


Mohsen Couldn't sum it up better.


message 19: by Cam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cam Copland So I'm meant to trust the opinion of someone who hasn't even finished the book? If it took you "under a day" to read "most" of it, surely it would be worth investing a little bit more time so you could write a review that was at least slightly credible?

You're arguing the author should leave out relevant evidence on one side of the argument just so he can provide "advise" (sic). So it would be a much better book if he had deliberately omitted information that contextualised the argument and provided an alternative view of the subject?

Yes, let's criticise the author for leaving us more informed.


message 20: by Mary (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mary good review!


message 21: by Kp (new)

Kp Nicely written review. I get both sides


Katya Khatsenko This is exactly how I felt but sadly I am not as articulate as you :-p


Barry Great review - I agree with you totally and some of the anecdotal evidence was sketchy to say the least.


Gerry I liked your review...thanks..made me chuckle a little.


message 25: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Very funny lol however I did get or understand Gladwell. It depends on what you are looking for when you open the book. As a psychologist I understand him clearly and understand you too. You read what you wanted!


message 26: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Torm thx you saved me a lot of time!


message 27: by Mike (new)

Mike Are you able to recommend a book on the subject that you like? I just finished The User Illusion and I'm looking for an interesting follow-up book that is perhaps a little more complete than Blink. Thanks.


message 28: by Ibrahim (new) - added it

Ibrahim Mshelia Good for understand


Bikal Nepal hahaha you really hit the nail in the head! :P Good review...


Laura I actually think Gladwell was just trying to present both sides of the argument. Sometimes our unconscious mind makes great snap judgments and other times, we give in to stereotypes and our judgments become erroneous.

There is no true black and white in his book. Everything is pretty much gray, because that's the way our unconscious is too. You can't always trust your "gut feeling", but sometimes it does work.

Gladwell isn't trying to give us advice - that's not his purpose anyways. He just wants to impart his knowledge through anecdotes on how the unconscious operates and how making a decision in a millisecond sometimes isn't all that bad, and that it depends on the context of the situation.


message 31: by Mike (last edited Dec 20, 2014 09:09PM) (new)

Mike Laura wrote: "I actually think Gladwell was just trying to present both sides of the argument. Sometimes our unconscious mind makes great snap judgments and other times, we give in to stereotypes and our judgmen..."

Well said. I'm studying remote viewing and it's a similar situation, sometimes you're really tuned in, and sometimes everything you get is driven by the imagination. It takes a lot of practice and paying attention very closely to develop a feeling to know when you're "on".


message 32: by Michele (new) - added it

Michele Maatts Ditto. I could have written the book without documentation. It was so/so at best.


message 33: by Sofia (new) - rated it 1 star

Sofia Morfin You read my every thought... Without thin slicing my face. Respect


message 34: by Sofia (new) - rated it 1 star

Sofia Morfin You read my every thought... Without thin slicing my face. Respect


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