By Dan De Neve
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell is the latest title read by the Seaside Book Group at the Dana Point Library. Gladwell’s theme throughout the book is that we make spontaneous decisions, in the blink of an eye, that aren’t as simple as they appear to be.
He describes several situations in which people make split-second decisions that make sense, even though, at first glance, the decision seems illogical, and the reasoning is nonsensical or goes against conventional thinking.
Using numerous case studies, Gladwell argues for what is called thin-slicing, which is the ability to find patterns in events based on narrow windows, or thin slices, of experience. Do not confuse or assume this is the same as intuition or a gut feeling, although in a few of the case studies, it seems there may be some of one or both.
Gladwell covers many aspects of life including autism, speed dating, tennis, gambling, automobile sales, malpractice lawsuits, military gaming, classical music auditions, and why we like tall, male CEOs.
In one particular study, a doctor can tell within five minutes of listening to a couple if they will still be married after 15 years, with 95% accuracy.
What makes this book compelling isn’t just the reality of making good decisions despite thinking without thinking, but that this skill can be learned over time. Gladwell also points out that quick judgments are better than what is commonly referred to as paralysis by analysis, which in our day of information overload happens too often.
This was especially true of doctors, who Gladwell shows in one case study overanalyzed heart attack patients, to everyone’s detriment.
One fascinating area that Gladwell delves into is the lockbox in our mind, the unconscious. What makes this interesting is that some individuals, no matter how they try, cannot explain how they arrive at the conclusions they draw.
Blink is the second book by Gladwell that the group has read, the first being Talking to Strangers. Blink is fast-paced and despite the subject matter, easy to comprehend. As with the first book the group read, I highly recommend Blink.
The Seaside Book Group meets on the fourth Monday of each month at the Dana Point Library. For more information, please call 949.496.5517.
Dan De Neve is a longtime employee of the Orange County Public Library. He currently works at the Dana Point Library as the Adult Services Librarian. He is an avid reader of history, biographies and sports.