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Monday, December 12, 2005

Because this is such a popular book, I was on the waiting list in the library system for about month. And in this particular library system there were possibly 80 copies of the book.. Even though it's popular, is is worth reading. Gladwell writes well and comprehensibly, introducing scientific information and ideas in ways that are understandable for the average Joe Schmoe. Ideas are made tangible through many studies and stories. The basic idea is that humans often know things without being able to explain why.

Experts can train themselves so they have a better understanding of how to classify their knowledge and how to explain what they know and why. But those of us who aren't experts in a field, if given the opportunity to explain our reasons, would confuse everyone involved and probably change our opinions. One good way of understanding this is the human face – we can understand emotion without identifying it. For example, the face can't hide thoughts – if i am lying to you, there will be a hint of that shown on my face at one point, even if just for a second or less.

Another concept is thin-slicing -- being able to take a little piece of conversation or interaction and predict. John Gottman has studied couples for a long time and came up with 20 or so emotions and ways of interacting, like stonewalling, contempt, criticism... He has studied and become an expert at how negative and positive emotions look and sound, and now can listen to a couple for fifteen minutes or less at another dinner table and predict with high probability of being right whether they will stay together. If you know what to look for, it is present in all the interactions of a couple – or in the way doctors treat their patients, or in just a few questions to determine if someone is truly in danger of a heart attack.

Knowing when to trust one's instinct and when not to is also important – because if we have associations with certain types of people or certain environments, that will color our thinking too. This is a very interesting read – I would like to put into practice some of the tips and ways of thinking (or not thinking) about life.

Title:Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking
Author: Malcom Gladwell
Date published:2005
Genre: nonfiction, popular science
Number of pages: 254
Notes: Very popular book, but worthwhile anyway..!


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