Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Book Review (#12 of 2011)

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell is always a quick read-- he's a great storyteller and finds plenty of illustrations for whatever concept he's presenting.

This book is about how the brain works:

"It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, 'Blink' is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good."

He shows how all of us have the ability to "thin-slice" people or situations in the first couple of seconds. Based on an extremely small sample size we can make judgments that are just as accurate as if we'd had hours or days with the person or situation. But some people are better at this than others because they have a lot of exposure and experience, and some people make serious errors in calculation during those moments--particularly in extremely stressful situations-- because of a "temporary autism" that can occur when the body is placed in extreme stress.

Sometimes studying something systematically and empirically may lead people to wrong conclusions, conclusions that some people just automatically and correctly know are wrong in two seconds.

A lot of good scientific research presented with great examples. I encourage you to click the link above to read more about the book from Gladwell himself. I learned a lot and enjoyed it.

4.5 stars out of 5.

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