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Informed Intuition Beats Analysis and Knee-Jerk Prejudices
on July 15, 2006
Like The Tipping Point, Blink has a very simple point which it elaborates from a variety of perspectives. In this case, the point is that our subconscious mind can integrate small, subtle clues to very quickly make great decisions . . . as long as we have been trained to know what clues to focus on.
In developing that simple idea, Mr. Gladwell makes the case for "going with your gut" in many instances . . . especially when time is of the essence (such as during emergencies and in combat). He also rescues analysis to show how analysis can train people to know what to look for so they can use their instincts more effectively.
But instincts have a downside. Based on conditioning, we make associations that are harmful to ourselves and to others. He recounts how an innocent man became a victim of under trained, over stimulated police officers and how even African-Americans display prejudice against African-Americans.
Most of the book is devoted to looking at prejudice and how to overcome it. For those who are interested in that subject, this book will be much more interesting than for those who want to understand how to improve their decision-making.
I thought that the book failed to reach the average mark as a book about how to improve decision-making. There's no real guidance for what we can each do to improve our important decisions. We are just left with hope that we can do better. I graded the book up a bit because I liked the insights into racism.
I thought the material on branded products was much too long and didn't add anything to what I knew already.
Mr. Gladwell writes well, though, so it's mostly a pleasant trip in the book. He makes science more interesting, but leaves a bit too much of the science out to make the results satisfying. He's writing for a dumbed-down audience with science backgrounds at the 8th grade level.
The book's opening made me feel like I was really going to learn something. As the book continued, I found myself disappointed compared to the high expectations that the opening set for learning better decision-making practices. As a result, all I got from the book was to pay attention to external clues and my own physiological cues as I react to a situation. I already do that, so I felt that the book didn't really deliver a solid benefit to me beyond teaching me a few new stories about decision makers.