Bookcover - Blink


by Malcolm Gladwell

Rating: 4/10


Malcolm Gladwell details the same idea as in another book, but with less insights and clarity, but more stories and fluff than Daniel Kahnemann in his Thinking Fast and Slow.

Main Ideas

The main idea of the book is simple yet profound. You have a part of your "brain", that "thinks" fast – subconsciously – and makes decisions in an instant. You could call it instinct or reflex or muscle memory. But the point is that it's snappy. It happens in the blink of an eye, doing complex tasks and problems effortlessly.

The problem is, sometimes this system fails. Because it takes so many shortcuts and uses heuristics, it is overconfident, and can overlook the details and decide wrongly in the moment. So while it's incredibly useful to use that system, sometimes relying on it is not good either.

Other than that the gut feeling needs expertise to "come online". Only if one had a lot of experience in using something do they develop an intuition for complex split second decisions. When they do though, they can become real masters at something. This idea is related to another book of Malcolm Gladwell – Outliers.

In a way this fast, snappy system detailled in Blink, will over time, extract repeated tasks and procedures. And boil them down into an immediate, streamlined response. Thereby slowly changing the structure of the brain to assemble specialized hardware that does that task extremely well.

The story I most remember from the book is that of the art critic, knowing that "something is wrong, this is a forgery" without being able to exatly articulate, how they know. This is showing another property of these two systems and how they interact with one another, often, they do not communicate well with one another.

Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational also deals with some of these ideas (and other things that make human decision making flawed and biased). But again, the best showcase of these ideas comes from Kahnemann himself.

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