David sums up the book very nicely, and I agree with his points. Malcom Gladwell is a really amazing story teller. I mean, top notch. He weaves some great tales into this book, and explains some interesting phychology research in the process.
But, the book's lacking something. It doesn't have a consistent thesis and lacks the "Big Idea" factor of his first book the Tipping Point. Seeing as to how I sat at the Coop reading it free, I have little scope to complain.
Brooks sums up most of the interesting, unintuitve research from the book in the passages below.
...THERE is in all of our brains, Gladwell argues, a mighty backstage process, which works its will subconsciously. Through this process we have the capacity to sift huge amounts of information, blend data, isolate telling details and come to astonishingly rapid conclusions, even in the first two seconds of seeing something. '' 'Blink' is a book about those first two seconds,'' Gladwell writes.
And indeed, ''Blink'' moves quickly through a series of delightful stories, all about the backstage mental process we call intuition. There is the story of the psychologist John Gottman, who since the 1980's has worked with more than 3,000 married couples in a small room, his ''love lab,'' near the University of Washington. He videotapes them having a conversation. Reviewing just an hour's worth of each tape, Gottman has been able to predict with 95 percent accuracy whether that couple will be married 15 years later. If he watches only 15 minutes of tape, his success rate is about 90 percent. Scientists in his lab have determined they can usually predict whether a marriage will work after watching just three minutes of newlywed conversation.
Gladwell says we are thin-slicing all the time -- when we go on a date, meet a prospective employee, judge any situation. We take a small portion of a person or problem and extrapolate amazingly well about the whole. A psychologist named Nalini Ambady gave students three 10-second soundless videotapes of a teacher lecturing. Then she asked the students to rate the teacher. Their ratings matched the ratings from students who had taken the teacher's course for an entire semester. Then she cut the videotape back to two seconds and showed it to a new group. The ratings still matched those of the students who'd sat through the entire term.
Gladwell has us flying around the world and across disciplines at hectic speed, and he's always dazzling us with fascinating information and phenomena. Take priming, for example. Two Dutch scientists asked their subjects to play a demanding game of Trivial Pursuit. They asked one group to think beforehand about what it would be like to be a professor and the other group to think about what it would be like to be a soccer hooligan. The people who were in a professorial frame of mind did much better than the ''hooligans.''
One group of African-Americans was asked to take a test without identifying their race on the pretest questionnaire. Another group was asked their race and ''that simple act,'' Gladwell writes, ''was sufficient to prime them with all the negative stereotypes associated with African-Americans and academic achievement.'' The African-Americans who identified their race did much worse than the people who didn't. The number of questions they got right was cut in half.