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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking Hardcover – 18 Jan 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (18 Jan. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713997273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713997279
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 506,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. In 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference (2000), Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005) and most recently, Outliers (2008) all three of which were number one New York Times bestsellers.

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Amazon Review

: For Blink, Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling The Tipping Point explores the extraordinarily perceptive and deceptive power of the sub-conscious mind. Gladwell’s major claim is that decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as a decision made cautiously and deliberately. What we are actually doing is what Gladwell calls ‘thin-slicing’. When we leap to a decision or have a hunch our unconscious is sifting through the situation in front of us looking for a pattern, throwing out the irrelevant information and zeroing in on what really matters. Our unconscious mind is so good at this that it often delivers a better answer than more deliberate and protracted ways of thinking. Much of this is utterly mysterious but some of the most astonishing and useful examples of thin-slicing can be learned.

 

Gladwell hopes to convince us that our snap judgements and first impressions can be educated and controlled so instead of merely praising the mysterious process of instinct and intuition he is interested in those moments when our instincts betray us, the situations where our powers of rapid cognition can go awry, where we fail to read the signs. Most disturbing of all is the degree to which culturally determined preconceptions and prejudices control us. Without reducing matters to racism and sexism Gladwell shows us that there are facts about people’s appearance—their size or shape or color or sex—that can trigger a very similar set of powerful associations which explains why utter mediocrities (such as U.S. President Warren Harding) can sometimes end up in positions of enormous responsibility; or why tall people earn substantially more than their shorter colleagues; or why car salesmen unconsciously charge prices according to race and gender.

 

Gladwell’s conversational prose style is concise, informative, accessible and entertaining. The stories, scientific findings and psychological tests are consistently surprising whether he is dealing with speed-dating, record promotions, police shoot-outs, the human face, or the reasons doctors get sued. --Larry Brown END

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For Blink, Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling The Tipping Point explores the extraordinarily perceptive and deceptive power of the sub-conscious mind. Gladwell's major claim is that decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as a decis (Gladwell hopes to convince us that our snap judgements and first impressions can be educated and controlled so instead of merely praising the mysterious process of instinct and intuition he is interested in those moments when our instincts betray us, the ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 142 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Gladwell certainly writes well and entertainingly about an interesting subject - but as each new chapter started I began by thinking 'right, NOW we are going to have some advances, NOW the arguments are going to be explored and developed,' and basically, they never were. The book said what it had to say really within the first couple of chapters, with examples of where 'thin-slicing' worked, and examples of where it didn't.

In the end, what it came down to was 'well here are situations whereby 'intuition' or a snap response as opposed to an overload of information wins out' - and whoops, 'here we have situations where people have made some very serious errors of judgement because they have worked from gut feelings that are actually prejudiced, and their 'unconcious biases' have been lethal.' And here are some more examples of these situations. And here are even more examples. And - well here are a few more.

But the book as a whole didn't really go anywhere.
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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Coert Visser on 14 Feb. 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am slightly disappointed with this book. As a reader who really enjoyed Gladwell's previous book 'The Tipping Point' I had looked forward to his new book. In some respects the book is like I hoped it would be: the topic choice is very interesting, the writing style is smooth and entertaining, the many anecdotes are very enjoyable and there are some interesting descriptions of experiments. Anyone should be able to pick up some interesting stories, points, facts and views from this book.
What disappoints me though is that the book does not really deliver what it promises. In the introduction chapter the author promises to answer three questions: 1) Can Blink-descisions be as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately, 2) When should we trust our instincts and when should we be wary of them?, 3) (how) can our snap judgments and first impressions be educated and controlled? Although the many stories in the book certainly imply many clues to answers to these questions, explicit answers to these three questions are not clearly given. In fact, when I finished reading I felt like the author had forgotten to include an concluding and integrating chapter in which he would explicitly answer these questions and summarize and conclude. But that chapter is really missing. Due to that the book really lacks clarity.
Although this book is disappointing I won't stop following Gladwell's writings. His previous book was better than this one and I'll bethis next one will be better too.
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60 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 20 Jan. 2006
Format: Hardcover
I don't exaggerate when I tell you that there's a ground-breaking two-page essay in there struggling to get out. Some day a book will be really written about this topic, and will cover such ideas as what fast cognition is, how it relates to thought, how to do it, how to make it conscious, how to recognize when you're doing it wrong, with practical lessons. Unfortunately, this 200-page pile of belaboured anecdotes is not that book.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Mar. 2005
Format: Hardcover
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.
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73 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Nelkin on 28 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
Blink is well-written with a fluent, enjoyable style, and is full of amusing vignettes to catch your interest. By the end, though, I was a little confused as to when it's okay to 'thin-slice', and when the author thinks we shouldn't. Gladwell introduces us to experts who can marshal their knowledge and experience of their subject to make reliable snap judgements in the blink of an eye. Then we meet other experts whose immense knowledge actually becomes clutter that gets in the way of reliable quick decision-making. And then we have anti-experts whose disdain for academic and theoretical knowledge enables them to come out tops in the thin-slicing stakes. And then we have the complete know-nothings of our world who, not surprisingly, guess wrongly about more or less everything.

And so the roundabout turns, all through the book. If you're seeing a pattern in all of it, then you're doing better than me.

I was particularly irritated by a section in chapter six where Gladwell toys with a concept he calls "temporary autism." He is examining the question of why, in extreme life-threatening situations, sometimes 'thin-slicing' works and sometimes it has disastrous consequences. Sometimes a police officer fires a gun at an armed criminal and saves the lives of innocent people; other times they shoot an innocent person and end up in court on a murder charge. In such fight-or-flight situations, an increase in heart-rate sends our bodies into a kind of survival mode -- that is, our nervous systems basically close down anything that isn't essential to dealing with the immediate crisis.
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