Book Review about Blink by Malcolm Gladwell


The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

by  Malcolm Gladwell

The book Blink, published in 2005, is about unconscious decision making. The kind of decisions we make constantly without being able to explain how or why we did it, play a crucial role in our successes and failures in life.  More information goes into these snap decisions then we care to think.  They can also influence or lives, societies, and even our entire world, in enormous ways.  The first chapter, entitled:  The Theory of Thin Slices:  How A Little Bit of Knowledge Goes A Long Way, pretty much says it all. 

The book set out to prove that these blink decisions can make or break us.  Okay, could you tell me something I don’t already know?  The anecdotes in the book demonstrated that people with certain expertise can make their unconscious decisions work in their favor.  They also show the opposite, how a snap decision can cost millions of dollars and even result in death.  Most of the stories were interesting or entertaining on some level however, they were repetitive.  This book was yet another example of someone stretching out what could have been explained in less then fifty pages into a painful length of 254 pages, plus notes and acknowledgements.

The book, Blink, did have a few nuggets of wisdom to impart.  Especially the fact that unconscious prejudices can cause us not to hire someone, or to treat someone differently due to race, or gender.  It did not however really give any good hints for changing this behavior.  It left me with the basic idea that you cannot change your subconscious mind, a fact which I don’t believe to be true.  The book also intrigued me on the subject of “mind readers”, or people who can read your face so well that they can almost be said to tell what you are thinking. 

I would give this book a rating of two out of five stars.  I would not really recommend you to read it in great detail but, if you have the time to skim over it’s contents, you might find a few little intriguing bits.  Since this is not the sort of book I ordinarily read, I would definitely not read another by the same author.  This book has reminded me that I did not read this kind of thing for a reason.