05 May 2010

Book Review: "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking"

In this so-called "information age," we are continually inundated with overwhelming amounts of facts and data. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Blink," the problem is that we have too much information to make a proper decision. Essentially, we continually suffer information overload.

Gladwell claims that rather than seeking out more information to make an informed decision, we need less, but more pertinent information. With the correct type of data, we can "thin slice" a situation to make a decision based on the most important criteria.

The book strives to illustrate how “gut instinct” works. “The part of our brain that leaps to conclusions…is called the adaptive unconscious…This notion of the adaptive unconscious is thought of, instead (of the unconscious Sigmund Freud described), as a kind of giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings,” (page 13).

I feel that it is important to understand the concept of thin slicing. We often become immobilized to overcome the deluge of information we supposedly need to have in order to come to a “good” decision. “I think we are innately suspicious of this kind of rapid cognition. 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….We believe that we are always better off gathering as much information as possible and spending as much time as possible in deliberation. We really only trust conscious decision making….The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately,” (pages 13-14).

If you are interested in the decision making process, this is a worthwhile read. Gladwell has excellent examples backed with interesting facts on the process of thin slicing and how our adaptive unconscious works. As it is very interesting and pertinent, I recommend this book. 


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