Gladwell’s first book, ‘The Tipping Point’ was a perhaps surprisingly well-received book analysing social trends, and what makes them emerge, fade or become part of ongoing culture. In Blink, he looks into the power of snap judgments, and the benefits of being able to make speedy (but accurate) decisions.
There are some very good examples – a fake sculpture which fooled most experts, but nonetheless made some say hmm at first glance, and a marriage guidance counsellor who can analyse discrete moments of behaviour and make startlingly accurate predictions about the likelihood of the couple staying together. There are more examples like this, and Gladwell writes well, and yet I must admit I was vaguely disappointed with the book.
Whereas Gladwell’s previous book analysed the people and factors involved in social trends, Blink doesn’t repeat the analysis in Blink; after two hundred pages or so of discussing why it’s a good idea to try to ‘think without thinking’, he spends about a dozen pages talking about how one might go about doing this. Maybe my expectations were inappropriate, but it seemed to me that it would be a good idea to actually suggest ways that the reader might develop the skill of making snap judgments.
So it’s an interesting read, but it rather fails to reach a conclusion – or, at least, the one I was hoping for; as opposed to ‘hey, that could be something to try’, it remains slightly removed, restricted to the lives of others, and thus in the realms of ‘oh, that’s interesting’.
Which the book is: interesting. But not, I felt, fascinating or gripping. Cautiously recommended as long as you don’t expect suggestions as to how to apply the lessons of the book to your life, but if you’re looking for a pseudo-self-help title, you’ll probably feel slightly let down. I certainly did.