Read Blink, Steve commented after I shared on Facebook that many of my right-on-target life decisions were made intuitively. Blink is a nonfiction written by Malcolm Gladwell. His subjects are based on science, reproducible and proven but oh, so dry and tedious. Normally, such subjects will not earn an author household readers like me. In Gladwell’s case, however, written in light prose easily decoded, his books offer hard scientific treatise to readers of adequate cognitive ability without ruining the reading experience.
So I pull Blink off my shelf and fulfill the promise that one day I will read it–too many good books too little time has been my perpetual problem. As Gladwell walks me through the many aspects of “thinking without thinking”, one term keeps coming back: thin-slicing–our brains’ method to instantly prep rough microscopic slides from life’s moments to diagnose viability. In other words, we intuit life’s decisions, the kinds attributed to destiny or fate, based on those blurry images seen through inferior, clumsily-adjusted school instruments. Decisions like,
Is this man my life partner?
Is it our dream house?
Should I trust this babysitter?
Blink Think isn’t fool-proof, Gladwell cautions us, not because the method is faulty, but more because of the biological nature of our brains that is subjected to fatigue, easily overloaded, cross-wired, influenced, or distracted.
Blink Think works only in life-impacted instances, when one asks oneself, should I engage in this dark alley at this time, should I brake or swerve, or should I accept this too-good-to-be-true job offer, etc.
Blink Think works best when given more time; any bit of extra time would help reduce the error factors. Remember the decision Pete Carroll, Seattle’s Seahawks’ coach, made to take away the team’s football from Marshawn Lynch and trusted it to Beast Mode? It was his gravest Blink Think failure. In those quick moment when the dynamic of the game was most volatile and intense, Carroll might have thought too much. He might have relied heavily on his logical thinking rather than his gut feeling. He had opted to compute instead of compulsively listening to his heart.
Blink Think can be trained, Gladwell promises. Page following page, I anticipate that moment when his gift will be delivered in my hands. His afterword blows away that hope; I put away the book without learning how to Blink Think better, more than what I already know. Should I intuit that knowledge from reading the book cover to cover? It isn’t part of the deal.
Nonetheless, Blink is a decent read. My curiosity and hunger for knowledge were aroused throughout. As the chapters advance, Gladwell constantly nudges me on by reminding me what I have read. By reciting the case examples he has used to illustrate his points, Gladwell has done well to keep me afloat with him. Now I understand that intuitive thinking is not the product of imagination, nor my blink think a lucky guess or statistical coincidence. It’s this; our knowledge about the power of thinking is still limited, because human is more than the formation of chemicals into physical masses. We possess that elusive, God-like quality that is our unique, non-imitable power.
PS: A receipt from Borders Bookstore fell out from within the pages of my book. Is it another proof of failed blink think? You tell me!