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BlinkBlink by Malcolm Gladwell
Published: 2005

The basic premise of this book is that we should pay more attention to our initial gut reaction when making decisions, as having more information can often lead to making worse decisions, except if you haven’t spent enough time honing the particular skill and knowledge set you’re basing the decision on, because then it could lead to shooting an innocent dude 41 times. So…be careful with that.

I liked this book a lot. It’s not really going to change how you make decisions, but it does provide chapter after chapter of interesting anecdotes showing both the positive and negative aspects of ‘thin slicing’ – that is, interpreting a small amount of immediate information with preconcieved notions and previous experience. Malcolm Gladwell is a great storyteller, and he’s found some really interesting examples.

It is quite possible for people who have never met us and who have spent only twenty minutes thinking about us to come to a better understanding of who we are than people who have known us for years.

It’s not fair to say it won’t change how you make decisions. He does provide examples where understanding how powerful our initial unconcious biases are have lead us to take steps to negate their effect on our decisions. In one example he writes about how orchestras around the world are now placing a screen up to hide musicians during the audition process, and since doing so the number of women being accepted has skyrocketed. Gladwell believes we should apply this to other scenarios as well, such as in courtrooms where, for instance, a jury may be deciding the fate of an innocent man who happens to wear a black hat and an eye patch and maybe a moustache and also has a hairless cat or maybe a snake. These things can really mess with your judgement.

Recommended for the interesting and well-told anecdotes. I’ve finally read a Malcolm Gladwell book, and I have a feeling I’ll be reading more in the future.

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