"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, February 9, 2007

Blink - Book Review

How much information can you gather in an instant? Well, if I walked past Malcolm Gladwell, the author of "Blink" on the street, I could infer he was 1) a professional of some type 2) a mix of races, probably black and white, 3) a man in need of a haircut, and 4) possibly related to TV's Screech (from Saved by the Bell), Dustin Diamond...

Anyway, I recently read "Blink", at times a fascinating look at what many call gut reactions. His argument, called "thin-slicing," argues that the judgments we make in a split second, those weird premonitions sometimes called intuition, are incredibly powerful and accurate . . . sometimes much more accurate than years of research.

If you take the theory far enough, it has amazing ramifications for our own psyches and the world. For example, how can everyone tell Kevin Federline is a dirtbag at a first glance? It might be hard to explain accurately. There's just something about his face, his clothes and body language, which all scream "I'm white trash," but you're just not quite sure exactly what it is. But all you know is that your intuition tells you so, and as it turns out, that's usually the right voice to listen to.

The material is much more suited to a magazine article or maybe 100 pages at best (I had the same comment about Gladwell's previous book "The Tipping Point".) Unfortunately, "Blink" goes on for much longer, and "thin-slicing" starts to feel stretched especially when trying to draw parallels between autism and cops who "thin-sliced" an unarmed black immigrant, named Amadou Diallo, in the Bronx late at night and then brutally killed him.

There were a lot of interesting observations in this book, and I really enjoyed reading it, but I remember when finishing it that I didn't come away with any big conclusions that would help with decisions at work and in my personal life . . . just that I'd consider trusting my instincts more.

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