Tag Archives: microexpressions

Slow week! — “Blink,” by Malcolm Gladwell

(Apologies are in order, reader! I slacked off a lot this week, due in no small part to having a lot of outside commitments, and the worst work day of my so-far-young life by far. Nobody who impressed business client at 15 should fall to doing door-to-door sales work at 18. I’ve learned my lesson! Onto the review.)

Cover of Malcolm Gladwell's

A smart guy? Yes. A prophetic researcher whose works change your life in under 400 pages? No. A writer who can point you on to the things that will? Definitely.

Rating: 4 / 5

I don’t make a secret of my minor obsession with books skirting the boundaries of psychology and self-help; in this regard, Robert Greene is my favorite author, and Malcolm Gladwell is pretty high up there.

That being said, anyone who opens Blink will do well to repeat this mantra to themselves:
“Gladwell’s a reporter, not a scientist,
May he no longer give cognitive bias.”

Blink is a great book, written in a fantastic style that betrays Gladwell’s long running position as a writer with the New Yorker. Beginning with the story of a falsified kouros statue that one expert just “knew” had to be fake, even after scientific testing appeared to prove that an impossibility, he builds up a fascinating series of anecdotes about the mind’s power to ‘thin-slice’ events and make snap judgments. There are a surprisingly large amount of events that we can do just as well if not better by suppressing our rational sides and acting on (trained, well-honed) animal instincts. Cool beans.

Apropos of his section on microexpressions and the work of the human lie detector and psychologist Paul Eckman is this great YouTube video I dug up. Even if you’re not interested in reading the book, this is an awesome watch:

So, Malcolm’s a great writer, and the stories he tells us are all great. Why doesn’t Blink get 5 stars?

Because chances are if you’re interested enough to read this review of it this far, you’re going to buy the damned book anyway. And you deserve to be warned that Gladwell is notorious for cherry-picking his accounts. Like I said: Gladwell is not a scientist. He oversimplifies issues.

But even a simplified version of an issue can be enchanting.

 

For seasoned Gladwell fans, the last link under “Related Articles” ought to give you a nice, if slightly deprecating laugh. 🙂

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