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

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
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May 13, 2007

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Read in July, 2007

For anyone who is thinking about reading this book, I highly recommend it. However, I also recommend reading it as a series of fascinating, well-told stories. It is really nothing more and nothing less.

One of the criticisms I heard about this book before I read it is that Gladwell lays out his theory in the first chapter, and the rest of the book is just example after example supporting his theory. I agree, however it would be a serious mistake to only read the first chapter. The pleasure of reading this book is in those stories- he talks about interesting psychological experiments and unbelievable examples of where snap judgement trumped long and careful research and analysis, and where snap judgement failed because of unconscious prejudices. The problem with this book is that his argument is not cohesive.

I kept reading on and on expecting his argument to become clear, but that never happens. Instead, one story after another contradicts his original theory, and he keeps changing his mind about what that theory is. For example, a point he makes is that someone's intuition can lead to the right conclusion, while deliberate analysis by experts considering all information available can be completely off. However, in all his stories where someone made a good snap judgement, that person was an expert and was able to use his judgement under a high-stress situation precisely because of his long career of careful study or of many experiences in that situation. Another problem is that he seems to think that one can know ahead of time when to use their snap judgement or when to carefully research something and consider all information available. The problem with that part of his argument is that, in all the examples where the person's snap judgement failed, that person was not aware of his subconscious prejudices because they were, obviously, subconscious. In the afterward he wrote after the book was published, he tried to reconcile these contraditions, but it was still not convincing.

Regardless, his examples really are fascinating, and he really is a great story-teller. I think if you read this book without the expections that I had, and without trying to mentally place each example in a larger framework of what you think his argument is, you would very much enjoy it.
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02/11/2016 marked as: read

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

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message 1: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey Kriston One of the other comments mentions that he doesn't specify when snap judgement is good or bad. Good call that it's useful when you're an expert in that field!

Brianna "A series of fascinating, well-told stories. It is really nothing more and nothing less." I totally agree.

Charmedheart Lorezca where can i read this for free? can you guys help me? thanks

Ms.pegasus Agree with your observation that this book is interesting because Gladwell is such a great storyteller.

message 5: by Rowanmourad (new) - added it

Rowanmourad I downloded the pdf of the book and its only 127 pages, I dont know if its missing something?

Andreia Pania de Almeida Nice, I partially agree. Some stories can call one's attention but others may be too full of the details and not that interesting, for example, it was very hard to finish the chapter "Paul Van Riper's big victory”. And as you, I kept looking for cohesion it that was frustrating.

message 7: by Courtney (new) - added it

Courtney Chinn I understood your part about the lack of cohesion of the book. You were flooded with so many examples that after a while you lost track of what he was getting at exactly. However, with that being said, the examples and stories of countless individuals were fascinating to me. In one of the chapters towards the end of the book, he started to retell the story of Abbie Conant, the trombone player and her being harassed by the music director for being a woman and how playing trombone was a "manly instrument." It was interesting to see how because of her winning trial after trial against the orchestra, it led many orchestras during the 70's and 80's to hold blind auditions. By that point, the number of women in orchestras rose dramatically. This is a good, and quick read when you're looking for a "not so ordinary type of theory"

Sabrina Great book overall. I wish he would focus in fewer examples and develop the mechanisms of thin-slicing a little more. Afterwords from second edition clarifies the whole bunch of examples.

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