Home > Books > Blink : The Power of Thinking – A review

Blink : The Power of Thinking – A review

I read about “Thin-Slicing” first when I was reading Malcolm Gladwell’s 2005 non-fiction book Blink, which analyzes the concept of “thinking without thinking.” It means making quick decisions on little information.

Gladwell’s hypothesis says that thin-slicing can lead you to a big trouble and can sometimes help you to make great decisions also. If you have taken small amount of information to baseline a decision or to come to conclusion, you could be often incorrect. Just like that, I would like to take my previous post, “IT Services Providing Companies vs. IT Captive Units”. I won’t say that I am completely correct. It is completely based on my experience; I did not take any other’s view in consideration for that post and even though I generalized what I thought. I could be fairly incorrect.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell has used the killing of Amadou Bailo Diallo to explain that how disastrous could be the effect of rapid judgment. He was a Guinean immigrant in New York City who was shot and killed on February 4, 1999 by four officers of Street Crime Unit of New York City Police Department. These policemen mistook him as a serial rapist who they were searching. As they approached him, Amadou took his hand in his jacket and policemen thought he was pulling out a gun. Immediately they opened fire at him. The four policemen fired a total of 41 rounds resulting on the spot death of Amadou. Later on it became a very big issue worldwide. New York Police Department end up paying more than USD 3 million as compensation. As a result of killing of Diallo the Street Crime Unit was disbanded.

Among the other topics mentioned in Blink, is Pepsi Challenge. Pepsi representatives set up a table in malls or shopping centers or other public locations with 2 cups, one with Pepsi and the other with Coca-Cola. They asked the passers by to taste the drinks in both the cups. This test revealed that majority of the people liked Pepsi. But Gladwell says that success of Pepsi over Coca-Cola was the result of the nature of sip & taste. Sip & taste is always different than what you taste the same thing in large amount. You may not like a thing when you take a sip of that, but you take it in large amount, you may probably like it and vice versa. Sip & taste fails to account for the satiating effect that you feel when quantity of food is more. So this example again says that quick decisions on small information may be wrong.

But sometimes, as said earlier, some great decisions are also made in a jiffy with little information. The first story mentioned in Blink is of Getty Kouros. It was a statue hundreds of years old, dug out of the ground and brought to the J. Paul Getty Museum in California. It was considered to be one of the biggest archeological discoveries then. Many experts across the globe confirmed after their study that the statue was legitimate. It was put on display in the museum in 1986. Book says that when people first saw the sculpture their initial response was indifferent. They were not able to believe that the sculpture was ever under the ground. Later it was proved in 1990 that blink moment was correct. The statue was fake and even common people, with no knowledge of archeology could understood that there was something wrong with the statue when they first saw it.

The fascinating case studies, as mentioned above are the best part of this book. And whatever Gladwell says, it all goes in line with the concrete examples he mentioned.

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