Blink and you probably would not miss much

I completed Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink last week and I would not feel the need to overly revise my “thin sliced” view.

The book is not a complete waste of time, it contains some interesting insights on race in particular and did, at least, explain to me why office chair design has changed in the last five yearsMalcolm Gladwell speaks at PopTech! 2008 confe... and also how my reactions to that change – from “that chair looks awful” to “I love sitting in this chair” were, in fact, fairly typical. I also read a lot about a musician I had never heard of (the book attempts to explain why) and an embarrassment for the US Department of Defense.

But essentially the book seems to be a long-winded way of noting that:

  • experts often have a near instant gut feeling about things which turn out to be right;
  • evolution means we are equipped to make decisions in a split second so we can survive but that decision-making ability is also automatically applied to many areas where the decision is not about survival; and
  • often these rapid decisions are good and helpful, but often they are not – in particular even those of us who abjure racism will make decisions conditioned by a sub-conscious racial prejudice.
The race stuff was depressing, the chair stuff interesting, the book about 100 pages too long.

Thin slicing Malcolm Gladwell’s “Blink”

I thought Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point – supposedly the most important book ever written about politics (or some such guff) could have and should have been filed under “statement-of-the-bleedin-obvious” and so somewhat surprised myself by recently buying Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

I am not saying the book is not without charm but having only read a small proportion of it, my complaints against it are piling up – shallow, manipulative, repetitive, emphasising gossip over fact and theory, calling Rupert Allason “Nigel West” and so on…

Luckily for Gladwell (I am sure he cares!) I will not be only relying on the “thin slice” of opinion, but will plough on for a bit more before deciding whether or not to go on.

PS: I am the only one who thought The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable was very poor? I really did not get beyond the thin slice of that one. Business blockbusters and me do not mix.