Saturday, July 29, 2006

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

"I knew from the first few pages of Gladwell's Blink exactly what I thought: I'm gonna be up all night reading this..A smart,breezy celebration of intuition..kept me hooked to the final page."
This is one of the statements made in 5 page acclaim for Malcolm Gladwell's Blink..So,can this book keep you up all night? No,it can't..But as far as hooking you to the last page is concerned..It sure scores high!

Gladwell entered the best seller arena with The Tipping Point & it seems he's all set to stay there with blink..for long!Blink talks extensively about how brain works in the Blink moments,your first impressions,instincts,snap judgements et al. and how they can be startingly correct & just as startingly--Wrong!

As the author himself says the first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact: Decisions made very quickly at the spur of the moment can be as good as decisions made cautiously & with deliberate research.It in a way tries to probe into the age old issue of how powerful is your unconscious.But instead of rattling endlessly just about how influential one's unconscious is (which most of the psychology books tend to do..), this book also talks about its fallacies.How at times,your instincts deceive you into making wrong decisions,how your powers of rapid cognition tend to go awry for a very specific & consistent set of reasons & how your snap judgements can be educate,controlled -- Influenced!

Best thing about Blink is that it doesn't deal with hardcore & sadly, boring scientific terminologies..Not for once does it talk about Oh-My-God-How-Do-I-Pronounce-It type chemicals & hormones.Rather,it uses a series of interesting anecdotes & compelling stories from completely different walks of life to make his point.

One thing you can't deny is that this one is a very exhaustively researched book.Also,most of the events described in this book happened in the recent times,so it was easy to relate to them.Though,Gladwell has been a journalist,still all the incidences described give impressions more of a storyteller than a journalist.His dissection of the events make a very interesting reading.

But what beats everything else is his ability to find similarities between completely disparate fields of study & not only that,he startles you with the revelations that are completely going to bowl you over,for most of the times they give some really powerful insights into marketing,advertising,business strategies,political tactics,relationships,defence & what not!

And come to think of it,some of them are very ordinary pieces of information which we would generally skim over & he turns them into delightful & gripping case studies!

Like we have one Pepsi's challenge where Coke lost onto Pepsi due to blind sip tests, the phenomenal victory of a team led by a retired millitary commander against one equipped with high powered satellites & sensors & supercomputers.How adrenaline rush led autism & unconscious led bias led to one unfortunate & infamous death,how an estremely talented singer's career went into jeopardy inspite being acclaimed by experts due to fallacies of surveys,how a chair once written off as chair of death later went onto change the norms of ergonomics.How during speed dating people end up choosing partners exactly opposite to what they wanted.How a product's packaging dominates over its content.How salesmen decide bargains based on prejudicesregarding gender,race & looks and so many things that will leave you gaping for more.

The message is simple -- Every moment - every blink - is composed of a series of discrete moving parts & ever one of those parts offer an opportunity for intervention,for reform & for correction.

Only problem with the book..too much repetition..& tends to get really confusing at places..Certainly not something you can digest in one go..But,a good book..As one Library Journal says.."For once a best seller will be more than worthy.."


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