Thin slicing Gladwell

I’m a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan. But for some reason, I hadn’t read Blink, his latest book. I bought a copy a while ago, and both Nora and Lissa have read and enjoyed it. (Lissa got me hooked on Gladwell in the first place.)

I briefly picked it up right after I bought it and read a couple of pages, then put it down. Not sure why. Just a gut reaction.

For those not familiar with Blink, it’s about, to quote Gladwell, “rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye.” He argues that our quick instincts can often be as accurate as reasoned thought, decisions made after lengthy deliberation and the gathering of gobs of information.

To a committed rationalist like me, a gatherer of data and deliberator, the idea that our gut can be just as good sounds like a load of crap. I guess that’s why I put it down the first time. Just trusting my gut.

One Comment

  1. IIRC, what I got from the book was that you shouldn’t trust these quick-instincts reactions, as they are simple reactions from our brain based on simple rules he (it ?) got from our everyday context, and might be wrong.
    For instance, he explains that since most of the time media show black people in a bad light (murder & violence), our brain picks “black people = danger” as a defense mecanism, thus we tend to have an instinctive guarded reaction when first talking to one, or being approached by one. Of course, everyone thinks “not me !” There are a couple of tests in the book to try it yourself.
    The conclusion is the same as yours: don’t trust your instincts to make informed decisions 🙂

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