Book Review: Blink

Malcolm Gladwell has made himself an expert on the mind’s minutiae. His recent book, Blink, examines the briefest of brain activities, our initial reactions and split-second responses, and how we can learn to harness the lightning-quick powers of our own minds.

It would be hard to succinctly cover all the disparate points Gladwell makes in the book, but suffice it to say, he has done his homework. He takes us into a psychologists office as he tries to unlock the mysteries of married couples. Can this scientist actually tell from a few brief minutes of video if your marriage will survive the test of time? Turns out, he can.

We see the easy manipulation of our “blink” abilities. Warren G. Harding’s ascension to President. Our preference for tall, white male leaders borne out for the farce it is. The subversion of inherent racial prejudices and stereotypes. The power of our subconscious mind to overall rule our rational abilities. Judging things on sight that don’t require our eyes.

He uncovers the limits of our pre-cognitive mind. Does ‘fight or flight’ overrule our other quick-thinking skills? Is there some deeper meaning to the violent brutality of police brutality? Are we slaves to our reptile brains?

Finally, he explains the wonders of realization. The release of knowing that you can harness these split-second moments. The tale of taste-testers whose tongues can tell the difference between batches of the same brand of potato chips. The ears of morse code spies who can hear the subtleties of different operators. The innate ability we all have to see more than can be seen, to know more than can be known, in essence to read minds.

A very powerful and thought-provoking book that I’ve reduced to declaritives and interrogatives. Do pick it up if you get the chance. A brief read about an even briefer span of time that will leave you thinking for some time to come.

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