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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinkingby Malcolm Gladwell
Gladwell's appeal can be traced directly to his studied obsession with familiar objects and events, and his remarkable talent for synthesizing complicated ideas into compelling stories. In The Tipping Point, the author set out to describe how ideas, products, messages, and behaviors travel through culture. In Blink, he considers how effective decisions are made. "We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it," Gladwell writes. "We think we're always better off gathering as much information and spending as much time as possible in deliberation." Might we be wasting one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, our instinct? Do some circumstances dictate that an impulsive decision is best? If so, when would that be? And why?
Gladwell's appeal can be traced directly to his studied obsession with familiar objects and events, and his remarkable talent for synthesizing complicated ideas into compelling stories. In The Tipping Point, the author set out to describe how ideas, products, messages, and behaviors travel through culture. In Blink, he considers how effective decisions are made. 'We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it,' Gladwell writes. 'We think we're always better off gathering as much information and spending as much time as possible in deliberation.' Might we be wasting one of the most powerful tools at our disposal, our instinct? Do some circumstances dictate that an impulsive decision is best? If so, when would that be? And why?
"Brace yourself: The release of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Gladwell's delightful new book, is sure to inspire orgies of Gladwell-mania among the with-it set, and obsessives will soon begin popping up all around you....As in the best of Gladwell's work, Blink brims with surprising insights about our world and ourselves, ideas that you'll have a hard time getting out of your head, things you'll itch to share with all your friends." Farhad Manjoo, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Nearly every argument in Gladwell's book is made by example, and these are invariably topical and interesting, and often lead you to picture some societal niche that you hadn't thought of before....The anecdotal method can be less than satisfying, however, and by the end of Blink I found myself longing for a book more drawn out and philosophical, the kind of thing you couldn't digest in a single flight." Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)
Synopses & Reviews
How do we make decisions — good and bad — and why are some people so much better at it than others? That's the question Malcolm Gladwell asks and answers in the follow-up to his huge bestseller, The Tipping Point.
Utilizing case studies as diverse as speed dating, pop music, and the shooting of Amadou Diallo, Gladwell reveals that what we think of as decisions made in the blink of an eye are much more complicated than assumed. Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, he shows how the difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few particular details on which we focus.
Leaping boldly from example to example, displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Gladwell reveals how we can become better decision makers — in our homes, our offices, and in everyday life. The result is a book that is surprising and transforming. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.
"Best-selling author Gladwell (The Tipping Point) has a dazzling ability to find commonality in disparate fields of study. As he displays again in this entertaining and illuminating look at how we make snap judgments — about people's intentions, the authenticity of a work of art, even military strategy — he can parse for general readers the intricacies of fascinating but little-known fields like professional food tasting (why does Coke taste different from Pepsi?). Gladwell's conclusion, after studying how people make instant decisions in a wide range of fields from psychology to police work, is that we can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts — and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more. Perhaps the most stunning example he gives of this counterintuitive truth is the most expensive war game ever conducted by the Pentagon, in which a wily marine officer, playing 'a rogue military commander' in the Persian Gulf and unencumbered by hierarchy, bureaucracy and too much technology, humiliated American forces whose chiefs were bogged down in matrixes, systems for decision making and information overload. But if one sets aside Gladwell's dazzle, some questions and apparent inconsistencies emerge. If doctors are given an algorithm, or formula, in which only four facts are needed to determine if a patient is having a heart attack, is that really educating the doctor's decision-making ability — or is it taking the decision out of the doctor's hands altogether and handing it over to the algorithm? Still, each case study is satisfying, and Gladwell imparts his own evident pleasure in delving into a wide range of fields and seeking an underlying truth." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Gladwell writes about subtle yet crucial behavioral phenomena with lucidity and contagious enthusiasm....[His] groundbreaking explication of a key aspect of human nature is enlightening, provocative, and great fun to read." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"The author's great strength lies in his stories, and here he crafts a number of engaging ones....Brisk, impressively done narratives that should sell very well indeed." Kirkus Reviews
"Gladwell gets the science facts right and has the journalistic skills to make them utterly engrossing....
"If you want to trust my snap judgment, buy this book: you'll be delighted. If you want to trust my more reflective second judgment, buy it: you'll be delighted but frustrated, troubled and left wanting more." David Brooks, The New York Times Book Review
"Readers acquainted with Gladwell's articles and his 2000 bestseller The Tipping Point will have high anticipations for this volume; those expectations will be met." Howard Gardner, The Washington Post Book World
"It's unlikely that Blink, a demanding and counter-intuitive book, will become a headline-friendly, cocktail-party meme like the ubiquitous Tipping Point. But it's a rich book filled with startling, seductive ideas. Don't blink or you'll miss something." Dallas Morning News
"This absorbing little combo of pop science and self-help is indeed an easy read, like its mega-hit predecessor, The Tipping Point, but in the end it doesn't add up to much." Newsday
"As with The Tipping Point, you may finish reading Blink with the vague feeling you've heard much of this before....Gladwell's true genius lies is in his ability to weave these bits into a compelling narrative." Chicago Tribune
"An entertaining psychology book....Blink is not a glib handbook of how to think, or a guide of what to think. But it will make you think about how you think, when you think in a blink." Seattle Times
"Gladwell...brings the strengths of an experienced reporter to his subject. His depth of sources and clarity of language allow him to deliver compelling stories from across the spectrum of American experience....[A] convincing and powerful book." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"Too much of Blink reads like a longish string of features from the New Yorker....Gladwell cuts corners, leaving interesting and sometimes compromising questions unexplored." San Francisco Chronicle
"Intoxicating....Gladwell is an engaging writer and a first-rate tour guide." Los Angeles Times
"Much of the pleasure of Blink comes from the far-flung quality of the author's choice in subjects....Some of the best writing in Blink, however, are the examples in which 'blink' thinking actually failed miserably." Chicago Sun-Times
"In Blink Gladwell gives good weight to a provocative subject, the relevance of which may inspire reflection on several notable and perhaps questionable decision-making efforts of our recent history." Boston Globe
Book News Annotation:
In this best-seller, a staff writer for The New Yorker weighs the factors that determine good decision-making. Drawing on recent cognitive research, Gladwell concludes that those who quickly filter out extraneous information generally make better decisions than those who discount their first impressions. The author of The Tipping Point (2000) cites the implications for such areas as emergency situations and marketing, plus some notable exceptions.
Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology, the author shows how the difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information that can be processed quickly, but on the few particular details on which people focus.
In his landmark bestseller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. Now, in Blink, he revolutionizes the way we understand the world within. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing"-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.
About the Author
Malcolm Gladwell is a former business and science writer at the Washington Post. He is currently a staff writer for The New Yorker.
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