Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blink

I've started reading Malcom Gladwell's second book. In an earlier post I reccomended "The Tipping Point." So far, I've found it to be very interesting. Here's what "Blink" is about as described by the author:

It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens
in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a
house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book,
your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well,
"Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant
conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and,
occasionally, really good.

You could also say that it's a book about intuition, except that I don't like that word. In fact it never appears in "Blink." Intuition strikes me as a concept we use to describe emotional reactions, gut feelings--thoughts and impressions that don't' seem entirely rational. But I think that what goes on in that first two seconds is perfectly rational. It's thinking--its just thinking that moves a little faster and
operates a little more mysteriously than the kind of deliberate, conscious
decision-making that we usually associate with "thinking."

In "Blink" I'm trying to understand those two seconds. What is going on in inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition
better?

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