Thursday, June 08, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell: Blink

This was a fascinating book about how we as humans process information. In this book Malcolm inspects the way we are able to input vast amounts of data within seconds and make decisions based on that information. He also discussed memory and how those memories relate to the ability to “thin-slice” information.

I was particularly fascinated by the references to people’s ability to remember things for recognition, such as faces, but our inability to articulate those memories because that uses a different portion of the brain than the part that does the facial recognition. I also enjoyed the commentary about how too much information can derail our instinctive ability to make decisions. Although I found it fascinating, the descriptions of the war-fighter exercise where the “Blue” team had so much information that they failed to be able to react instinctively to the “Red” team’s decentralized tactics.

The most useful thing that I got out of this book however was the knowledge that this quick-decision making can be trained. That by giving our unconscious mind the vocabulary, terminology and experience to be able to categorize and organize the data that it receives that we can make even better snap decisions and become less likely to make mistakes when doing so, be it by learning facial expressions to better understand peoples true feelings, or become more familiar with the particulars of your job so that you are less likely to be surprised by circumstances and changes that arise.

Overall a great read with lots of things to think about and consider in how we live our everyday lives. Very recommended


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