Hi everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the book and are having a good week! If you’re not, then I hope it gets better. 🙂
First of all, Blink has been an extremely fascinating and engaging read for me. Given the subject matter, I expected it to be interesting at least, but it also keeps my attention and goes by quickly. I believe this is a result of the various anecdotes which Malcolm Gladwell employs to drive home his point, such as the stories about speed-dating, the gamblers and the card decks, and the bedroom experiment. This technique, aside from retaining the reader’s interest, also allows the reader to apply Gladwell’s advice to real life. At the same time, he connects each anecdote back to his original points, which is simply good essay-writing strategy. (I wonder why our textbooks can’t be this interesting…must be against the law or something.) Additionally, the tone of Gladwell’s writing is playful and sprinkled with sarcasm and humor, which helps lighten the weighty amounts of information and statistics. All in all, I truly have not read another nonfiction book as impossible to put down as this one (well, I could put it down, but I didn’t want to). True, the ideas are the focus rather than symbolism or character development, but I find that a refreshing change.
Aside from the style of Gladwell’s writing, his ideas are also incredibly eye-opening. In all honesty, I had no idea that our unconscious minds played such a large role in our decision-making and in our actions. For example, the concept of thin-slicing particularly appeals to me. It does make sense; just as you learn a complicated mathematical concept by breaking it down, your brain also, without your knowledge, processes the important information in small bits and leads you to an answer. It is impossible to look at the entire picture at once. I remember Mr. Dennis telling us in ACS that it’s impossible to concentrate on all the information your senses are giving you at one moment of time, like the feeling of the socks on your feet and your hair against your face and the speck of dust on your binder. This, he said, is your unconscious filtering through the information and letting you “zero in on what really matters” (34). However, the truly amazing thing to me is people’s ability to know so much based on that meager bit of knowledge. Gottman can “zero in” on the contempt in a marriage and determine its probability of success (kind of disturbing, if you’re a married couple). Art experts can tell at a glance whether a statue is fake or not. It all comes down to Gladwell’s “locked door,” which finds expression for Bernard Berenson upon viewing a fake art piece as “a curious ringing in his ears…a momentary depression” (51). We humans pride ourselves on our rationality, yet we are so often irrational when we listen to these vague feelings. Our minds are asking us to trust them blindly-do we listen? It is so incredibly frustrating to me that we don’t know how we do this, yet analyzing the reason destroys the very ability we are trying to puzzle out. Essentially, we must have faith in ourselves. Is this ability what sets us apart from other animals, or is it a remnant of our animal instincts? If it is the latter, then humans are peculiarly blessed (or cursed) with a conscious mind as well as an unconscious one. For better or worse, we can think on our instincts. Perhaps we really are “better off if the mind behind the locked door makes our decisions for us” (61). I hope mine has my best interests at heart.
Finally (yes I’m almost done), it is odd how incredibly sneaky our unconscious can be. The priming experiments, for example, that could make you walk more slowly or be more patient or cooperative – those were stunning. Perhaps this is where our values and preconceptions come from: if you think about it, we are being “primed” our entire lives with ideas. I have heard about babies being prepared for speaking a certain language from hearing the tones of voices outside the womb; is it so amazing that other influences in our worlds could prepare us for certain actions, no matter our ages? We have a wealth of opinions and knowledge hidden in our unconscious, which is part of you even if you don’t know it. I wish I had known about my extra brain sooner.
Anyway, have fun reading everyone and enjoy the rest of the book! I can’t wait to read the other blog posts!