Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

I recently went to a business seminar and on the way there and back I listened to Blink on audiobook.  I have seen interviews with Malcolm Gladwell on Charlie Rose before and knew I wanted to read this book or The Tipping Point.

The basic concept of the book is that there is a conscious mind and an unconscious one that we use for decision making every waking minute of our lives.  With the advent of technology that can capture our reactions, slow them down and let them be studied at a high degree of granularity, we are able to get a glimpse into our subconscious.  Even when we try to mask them, our faces give away true feelings for a split second.  Experts see something and immediately know it is “wrong.”  We are talking about things that happen in literal split seconds – the time it takes to see an image and push a button.

Gladwell goes through multiple fascinating examples and builds a strong case by repeating and building on his principle ideas.  Not only does he raise awareness about the unconscious influence, but he discusses when it is smart to let it be in control,  when it should not and how to control it.

It did seem like he was stretching with some of his examples.  Some seem to have been forced to fit a little and some seemed a little bit like the frog experiment.  The one where the researcher says “Frogs ears must be in their legs.  I make a loud noise and they jump one distance.  I cut off a leg and they only cover part of the distance.  I cut off both legs and they don’t jump at all.”  Nothing presented is at that extreme but there are some things that seem to need more explanation and probably more research for conclusive proof.

There is a good reason this book is such a big seller.  It is hard for me to imagine an adult who wouldn’t enjoy this book and learn something from it.  I really liked it.

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