Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Author(s): Malcolm Gladwell

Published: 2005

Report Published: 25th October 2016

Quake Magnitude: 3.0

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Field Survey

Blink is a book which discusses the processes, prejudices and power of persuasion that we are all prone to in the first seconds of ever setting eyes or ears on something. In a nutshell, it unpacks the expression that “first impressions count” and explores some science and a great deal of anecdotal evidence as to why in fact they do.

So what is my first impression of Malcolm Gladwell’s book? Well, I don’t like it that much and at no point did I feel that it really spoke to me or drew me in. It was also too repetitive and slow for my liking. That said, I did however, thoroughly enjoy the practical tests that the author highlighted, which I did in the true QUAKE Books style of not just registering a bookquake but living it!

Combining Blink with various “Blink-style” exercises is a good way to learn and capture what Gladwell is trying to show us. The whole point of the book is to evaluate how we evaluate others and a wide range of concepts in a blink of an eye. Personally, this led me down the road of Harvard psychology tests, riveting discussions on race and gender with a good Mexican female friend of mine Agent Mexi, and a fair share of music by Kenna, which I am listening to now to optimise this QUAKE Books Report.

So who is this book for? Without a doubt, all police officers, educators and recruitment staff should read Blink and participate in the accompanying tests, because as the author testifies this would lead to a less reflexive and more reflective society. This book may not make you less prejudiced but it could make you more aware of the biases which you inevitably hold.

Highlights

“Being short is probably as much of a handicap to corporate success as being a woman or an African American.”

“It is really only experts who are able to reliably account for their reactions.”

QUAKE Moments

My naivety when it came to the gender stereotyping of musical instruments, particularly brass band ones, concerned me somewhat. I don’t have any dealings in the music world but the fact that people would see trombone playing as a male occupation, along with say that of a doctor or an engineer does highlight the uphill struggle that both men and women must face to stamp out sexism.

Another interesting element of sexism that I only noticed as a result of reading Blink, occurred whilst watching a Jacksonville Jaguars preseason game, where there was an unusual advert for a soccer match between the US national team and another nation. The US based advert said USMNT (US male national team). The difference between that announcement and every other one I had ever seen was striking because of its explicit mention of men, rather than a neutral team. In my experience, whenever the media states that a sport is being played we are always talking about men. This shows that society excludes women by simply not talking about them, or by showcasing the men’s game over the women’s. For evidence of this, see the back pages of any newspaper.

No wonder there is such a discrepancy between the prize money. Gender divisions are practically engineered into the sport and its coverage. And I am afraid this won’t change until women in mass decide to support female sports stars by turning up at their games and paying a fair price at the turnstile.

Aftershocks

The various aforementioned tests told me that my biases and what biases I think I hold, on a sub-conscious level, are consistent with each other. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a long way to go, especially whilst they still exist. The hardest part is however working out how I can go about addressing some of them and right now I am still not sure how I will do it, but do it I must.

Finally, I hope Blink makes us all consider the implications of our own actions in bringing change to all people around us, not just those of our own “tribe”.

 

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