Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “Blink” by Malcom Gladwell

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Malcom Gladwell, y’all. He’s not just another writer. He’s a genius journalist, whose stories keep you on edge and intellectually stimulated at the same time–even his story about ketchup. (Yes, he’s written one, and it was awesome.)

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking is about what happens when we make crucial decisions in the tiny span of time between the external stimuli and the onset of logical thought. It takes you from a doctor’s office to a forest fire to a police shooting, recounting the ways that professionals applied split-second intuition (or missed their opportunity to do so) in vivid detail.

Read this book to better understand the inner workings of your mind, to better appreciate its powers of computation, and to learn when to listen to your intuition–and when not to.

Key Takeaways

  • Intuition is a powerful tool. Gladwell argues that our first impressions and gut feelings are often more accurate than we give them credit for. He explores the concept of “thin-slicing,” which is the ability of our unconscious mind to make snap judgments based on small amounts of information.
  • Sometimes, split-second decisions are more reliable and accurate than well-thought-out ones–but only when instinct has been cultivated over time with experience and expertise. These Gladwell calls “blink moments” – instances where people make split-second decisions that have significant consequences. He explores how experts in various fields, such as art, music, and medicine, use their intuition to make quick and accurate decisions.
  • When trying to decide if a painting was real or a fake, the split-second guess of three experts was more accurate than the well thought out decision of different experts.
  • Context matters too. Gladwell emphasizes that context is crucial in our snap judgments. He argues that we need to be aware of the factors that influence our gut reactions and take steps to eliminate biases and external factors.
  • We can improve our intuition over time. Some ideas that can help us do this are: practicing mindfulness, paying attention to our first impressions, and seeking out diverse perspectives. Gladwell also discusses the role that experience plays in developing expertise and intuition.
  • Intuition does have some drawbacks, however. Snap judgments can be influenced by factors such as stress, fatigue, and emotion, and how these factors can lead to errors in judgment.
  • Intuition doesn’t always work when fear short-circuits our instincts. An example is when cops shot an innocent kid while looking for a criminal (they were inexperienced and didn’t follow protocol).
  • Bias is also powerful and can affect our intuition negatively. Gladwell explores how our cultural backgrounds, experiences, and stereotypes can influence the way we perceive people and situations.

About the Author

Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist, author, and speaker. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has published several best-selling books, including The Tipping Point, Outliers and Blink. Gladwell is known for his ability to weave together complex ideas and research to create engaging narratives that challenge our assumptions and offer new insights.


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