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on June 23, 2005
Extremely interesting book with insightful theories on why and how we make decisions. Unfortunately, you don't find out until the disappointing end that the "chapters" were independent essays. As with most books, I looked forward to finding out how the author will wrap everything up and tie the stories together in the end. Apparently, Gladwell either didn't feel it was necessary, or ran out of steam. The ending was so abrupt that I found myself frantically scanning the notes at the end for some sort of closure (to no avail). That said... I do think this book is worth reading. Just read it as if it was a group of short stories, so you won't be disappointed.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon October 30, 2005
There is plenty of food for thought in the pages of Blink. Malcolm Gladwell does indeed, to some degree, inspire you to rethink your whole way of thinking. I'm not sure how much of a practical effect the book has on a reader, though, because Gladwell never really comes out with a systematic method for training yourself to think differently. I would sum the book up this way: Your unconscious is smarter than you are - but not always. It isn't that radical of an idea. We've all been such advice as: if you don't know the answer, go with your first instinct; you never get a second chance to make a first impression; and the ubiquitous follow your gut. What Gladwell does is validate these sorts of common sense notions. Going further, though, he also describes situations in which your unconscious can lead you astray. Ideally, one must strike a balance between instinct and deliberation.

The book features all manner of excellent examples to fit Gladwell's argument - although at times, it gets a little bogged down in minutiae (such as a veritable laundry list of scientific names for facial muscles). First, he talks about a Greek statue that was scientifically verified as authentic but almost immediately declared a fake (and rightly so) by a number of experts in that form of art. How could these experts see the truth instantaneously? Why can other people see and know things that logic dictates it is impossible to know? These are the questions Gladwell asks. It all comes down to thin-slicing, he tells us. Thin-slicing involves the filtering out of all but the most relevant data, and the human unconscious thrives at this special skill. Then comes the more interesting part - ask someone to explain how he knew something spontaneously, and he/she will struggle to do so. What is more, the very effort to describe one's reaction makes the person less sure of his/her conclusions. From here, it's only a hop, skip, and a jump to the argument that too much information can sometimes be a bad thing. This would seem to be bad news to those of us who prefer to sit and study about something before coming up with an opinion. It isn't always the case, mind you, but too much deliberation about too many things can be more of a hindrance than a help.

Thus, after showing what an unacknowledged genius our unconscious is, Gladwell proceeds to demonstrate how the unconscious sometimes gets things horribly wrong. He uses real world examples such as the Pepsi Challenge (and goes on to explain why New Coke seemed like a good idea at the time yet failed miserably), the shooting of an unarmed man by police officers, and the success of market-testing failures such as All in the Family. A number of fascinating insights are gleaned in the process: perception affects satisfaction, stereotypes (even those you strongly rebuke consciously) affect feelings and behavior, mood can be affected just by adopting certain facial expressions, spontaneity is not random, and others.

There is a level of contradiction worked into the book. Sometimes, for example, first impressions are right on the money, and sometimes they are not a good indicator at all. How do you know the difference? Sometimes, less information is more valuable than more, but sometimes it isn't. Gladwell's point is that sound decision making is borne of a balance between instinctive, reactive realization and deliberate, studied conclusions. I think he pretty well proves the point, but he doesn't really give us a road map for finding that balanced place. Thus, the book is made up mostly of thought-provoking, fascinating stories and examples. It makes for fascinating reading, but I'm not sure it will actually change the way I think about things on a routine basis.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 13, 2011
Everyone makes snap judgments about people, places, and events. Sometimes those judgments are correct, other times not. But what if you're forced to make a big decision in a matter of seconds? What processes in your brain help you make that decision, and how do you prevent bad decisions from happening?

Through fascinating studies and real life examples, Malcom Gladwell explores these concepts and much more in this book. As Gladwell states, there are three purposes to the book. First, to show that quick decisions can be just as good as decisions made after slow, careful deliberation. Second, to identify when we should trust our instincts and when we should be wary of them; and third, to persuade the reader that snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled.

To demonstrate Gladwell's points, plenty of pages are devoted to studies and examples that made the book sound like a marketing textbook at times. Descriptions of the many types of facial expressions were so detailed that it became monotonous. Also, I would have liked more tips about how to control snap decisions, but the book certainly gave me a better understanding of why and how first impressions are made. Having said this, Blink is a worthwhile read, and the concepts will compel you to reevaluate those snap decisions you make in your life.
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on August 25, 2013
I would highly recommend this non-fiction book by the author of the best-selling book Tipping Point – which I also loved. This book offers a unique view of “thinking without thinking”.

It presents a well researched look at how our “over-thinking” can be detrimental to us, and how we should listen more often to our “gut instincts” and intuition. This is especially true in this era of information overload, where we often find ourselves paralysed with so many options and choices.

Gladwell writes in a compelling manner that keeps you reading and gives you plenty to think about. You too will most likely find yourself nodding away with him throughout the book.

Diana Young, #1 Amazon best-selling author of Financial Fitness for Beginners and world traveler, currently sailing for six months each year in the South Pacific.
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on February 12, 2016
I love Malcom Gladwell's style. He is undeniably a great storyteller. It is a great book for those who are interested in science, but not enough or doesn't possess the background knowledge to read academic papers. One must be careful though and remain skeptical of the facts that are brought forward and discussed in that book cause from a scientific point of view, some are rather anecdotal. Great book still! Read it twice :)
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on May 5, 2011
I read this book because I enjoyed Outliers so much. Both demonstrate his exceptional ability as a journalist and storyteller. Regardless, I was disappointed that while Blink gave several examples of how experts are able to make rapid fire judgements, it had little practical information how the reader could ultimately apply the same methods successfully.
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on January 24, 2012
I so enjoyed this book. As with all of Gladwell's material it is so easy to digest, and so entertaining through the case studies and interpretation. Contrary to some other reviews, I found the book flows very well. I will never forget some of the stories he presents, and of course, the over-riding theme is profound. Thank you Mr. Gladwell.
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on July 13, 2014
Helped me recognize how brain washed I am and have been from childhood, gives me the room to be wrong without it being about intelligence or aptitude. I am no longer driven " to die to be right or to have the answers".
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on November 4, 2014
a fascinating study of unconscious bias is and it's effect on decision-making. always a good read. on to the next.
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on May 8, 2013
A bit long but as a whole, it's typical to Gladwell. Well researched and very good stories to back the facts.
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