There are many reviews out there on Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘Blink’ so instead of trying to give you a sense of the elements of the entire book, I will instead jump to those which I thought were particularly interesting or noteworthy from my perspective.
The tag line “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” is somewhat of a misrepresentation of what this book is really about. Instead, I think it is really about:
- the power of examining empirical evidence for cause and effect
- training your brain to hard-wire all of these elements
- exercising your senses to detect these causes
- reaping the rewards of this when you need to make decisions and time is critical
In other words, the book is really about the power of preparation. Not a very sexy statement is it? So I can understand the use of “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” The other aspect is that our subconscious is better at making decision that require considerations of a multitude of factors, some difficult to quantify on any scale than our conscious brain.
This is balanced with a chapter three entitled “The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall For Tall, Dark, and Handsome Men” that presented results I found troubling. Gladwell also warns us of unfounded prejudices of our subconscious brain that we may not even be aware of and the need to consciously intervene at times to train our brain out of old patterns.
Of all the chapters that make the case for Gladwell’s thesis, I think chapter four “Paul van Riper’s Big Victory: Creating Structure for Spontaneity” shows how trying to break down complex problems into large matrices of computers and protocols can lead to analysis paralysis.
Of course, my favorite quote is on page 178.
“Crème brûlée is the test of any restaurant” she [Gail Vance Civille, professional food taster] said. “It comes down to the quality of the vanilla. I don’t like my crème brûlée adulterated, because then you can’t taste through to the quality of the ingredients.”
Thank you Malcolm and Gail. I feel somewhat vindicated for all the times I railed against the current trend of restaurants adding exotic flavors to their crème brûlée.