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  1. #1
    breaking out of my cocoon SearchingforPeace's Avatar
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    Smile Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

    I just finished the other day and since I was without cell coverage the other night, I thought it might be nice to write a review of this book.

    Now, I know some dislike Galdwell and he has his critics because he is a storyteller rather than a data driven ST. I suspect he is a INFJ.

    This is my second Gladwell book. I have the rest lined up to be read.

    Anyway, the entire book is about decision making and different ways we can do so. Some things in it seems he is describing Si, others Se, other parts Ni, other parts Fi, and other Fe....

    In the afterward, he notes he was inspired to write it after being stopped and detained by police in NY. It was after his first book and he had grown out his hair (Gladwell is half black). The police were investigating a rapist in the area, an African American with long hair. Gladwell didn't look anything like the suspect except for the hair, but it took 20 minutes or so for them to accept that.

    Gladwell, during this period of long hair, also got pulled over for speeding more often.

    So, he decided to look into decision making and how the cops were so wrong without being racist.

    Anyway, that story was at the end of the book, not the beginning.

    He starts off talking about a statue the Getty bought. Some of the art history experts immediately saw the statue as a fake, but couldn't explain why. The Getty didn't accept that and ended up doing a long investigation that ultimately procduced sufficient to validate the expert.

    Gladwell terms the ability to rapidly decide something "thin-slicing".

    He goes through a number of experts, including family therapists, food tasters, and micro expression experts. Overall, he is against over reliance on "data" and excessive information. It only clouds judgment.

    Some of his thin-slicing feels very N, other feels F, and other feels S.

    The food tasting example was interesting. In a study, experts ranked jellies, then they had college students do the same. They put them in pretty much the correct order. But when they were asked to explain why, the students failed completely.

    Likewise, he critiques the Pepsi Challenge, showing how Coke screwed up its response by misunderstanding the situation. People might have preferred the taste of Pepsi sipping it, but they bought Coke in ever increasing numbers.

    He used a war game prior to the Iraq War to demonstrate the feeling vs. evidence model. The Blue Team (the opponent) was supposed to be Iraq or similar type state. The Blue team had all of the modern technology and absolute clarity of information. Blue team used intuition and feelings and defeated the Red Team even though it was completely mismatched and lacked the information of technology of the Blue team.

    Another interesting part was discussing the limits of thin slicing. Under stress, time can slow down and hyper awareness can occur, but too much stress (heart rate above 145) and judgment declines (which is why he criticizes police chases, the officers get too much adrenaline and can't think clearly).

    Another was in classical music. Women were largely excluded from major orchestras. Then they started auditioning behind a screen. Losing all the visual input resulted in women getting fairly tested and many orchestras now are closer to 50/50 men/women.

    He discusses a prominent police shooting and dissects why 4 non racist cops put 41 bullets in an unarmed man.

    Anyway, the book is full of different types of thin-slicing.

    His conclusion is that we should trust our feelings for complex and important decisions and evidence and data for straight forward and minor decisions. In decision that has many factors the unconscious mind can process these many choices much quicker and more accurately than evidence driven analysis. Buying a house or car is ultimately about how we feel about it, no matter the data. And the feelings are not random, but based upon our unconscious high speed processing.

    Ultimately, I suspect he opposes the current obsession with big data and would suggest people look into themselves. And develop expertise in understanding people.

    A few quotes

    being able to act intelligently and instinctively in the moment is possible only after a long and vigorous course of education and experience.
    We think of the face as the residue of emotion. What the research showed, though, is the process works in the opposite direction as well. Emotions can also start on the face. The face is not a secondary billboard for our internal feelings. It is equal partner in the process.
    Whenever we have something we are good at--something we care about--that experience and passion fundamentally change the nature of our first impressions.

    This does not mean that when we are out of our areas of passion and expertise, our reactions are inevitably wrong. It just means they are shallow. They are hard to explain and easily disrupted. They aren't grounded in real understanding.
    Anyway, it was very good read and I recommend it for anyone who wants to better understand cognition.
    “Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    “It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.”

    ― Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays
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  2. #2
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    I believe him to be more of an ENXP. His work is hard to read because it's so data and study driven which turns me off from psychology in some books. I don't mind it being used but when it comprises an entirety of his book. I yawn and fall asleep.

    Good for you that you helped me get the gist of his book.

    I find it interesting too that there is a way how I noticed that if a book is written by Carrie Brownstein, how the work and retention I retain is much less even though I respect her and adore her. Her memoir is so ENFP it hurts.

    Ne/Si loves information so very much different than Ni/Se which I believe even music wise it is true.

  3. #3
    Senior Member D'Ascoyne's Avatar
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    I've read and enjoyed a couple of Gladwell's books. I used to think he was an INTP but have now settled on ENTP because his books are easy to read and they're relatively short in length. INTPs aren't too inclined to shape their ideas and writings for the masses/non-specialists.

  4. #4
    Fe this! Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I loved this book. I have said somewhere around here before that I see a lot of Ni in what he's describing. (I don't see Ni in him though- I'd have a hard time believing he's NJ. Strongly leaning towards NTP for him.)


    Quote Originally Posted by SearchingforPeace View Post
    Another interesting part was discussing the limits of thin slicing. Under stress, time can slow down and hyper awareness can occur, but too much stress (heart rate above 145) and judgment declines (which is why he criticizes police chases, the officers get too much adrenaline and can't think clearly).

    [...]

    His conclusion is that we should trust our feelings for complex and important decisions and evidence and data for straight forward and minor decisions. In decision that has many factors the unconscious mind can process these many choices much quicker and more accurately than evidence driven analysis. Buying a house or car is ultimately about how we feel about it, no matter the data. And the feelings are not random, but based upon our unconscious high speed processing.
    It's been a couple of years since I read it, but didn't he also say that thin-slicing only really works (in the sense that it consistently yields correct 'gut' instinct information) in fields where someone has copious amounts of experience? Although the processing is done unconsciously, a person has to be consistently exposed to the kinds of information their unconscious would need to make that assessment. The less experience we have of something, the less reliable thin-slicing is going to be.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    INFJ 5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari -or- disagree with my type?

  5. #5
    breaking out of my cocoon SearchingforPeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I loved this book. I have said somewhere around here before that I see a lot of Ni in what he's describing. (I don't see Ni in him though- I'd have a hard time believing he's NJ. Strongly leaning towards NTP for him.)




    It's been a couple of years since I read it, but didn't he also say that thin-slicing only really works (in the sense that it consistently yields correct 'gut' instinct information) in fields where someone has copious amounts of experience? Although the processing is done unconsciously, a person has to be consistently exposed to the kinds of information their unconscious would need to make that assessment. The less experience we have of something, the less reliable thin-slicing is going to be.
    He says our feelings are often correct, even without expertise. He uses the jam study as an example, where college kids can order things as well as experts.

    Where expertise works in explaining why and having better understanding of our thin slicing. Experts explain things, where non experts do worse when they try to explain judgments.

    The microexpression researcher did research to validate his own skills in reading people and horses (from his handicapping days). He already read people like a psychic, but he couldn't validate it until he did the research and he couldn't explain the process. Now he can demonstrate the universality of facial expressions (like Kato Kaelin snarling in the OJ trial in a microexpression).

    Experience can also be a negative, as demostrated with the car salesmen and cops.

    So, overall, yes, experience can improve our thin slicing, but our unconscious could be correct without experience.

    I relate a lot to this book. And his way of creating rules, structures, patterns, and insight feel very close to home. Many of these thin slicing methods are very much part of my life.
    “Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    “It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.”

    ― Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays

  6. #6
    Senior Member Smilephantomhive's Avatar
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    I may have to read this book for school soon (could also choose outliers or tipping point).


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  7. #7
    breaking out of my cocoon SearchingforPeace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smilephantomhive View Post
    I may have to read this book for school soon (could also choose outliers or tipping point).
    Outliers is interesting. I enjoyed looking at why some pockets of people are successful and others are just not going to be, on average.

    I am reading Tipping Point now.

    I would recommend Blink first because it deals with thinking and intuition. Understanding how we think helps us the most.... Blink is a much easier and shorter read than Thinking Fast and Slow, but I would still highly recommend that one to anyone at all interested in thinking and intuition.
    “Orthodoxy means not thinking--not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    “It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living. It is clear also that thought is not free if all the arguments on one side of a controversy are perpetually presented as attractively as possible, while the arguments on the other side can only be discovered by diligent search.”

    ― Bertrand Russell, Sceptical Essays
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  8. #8
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    I was reading David & Goliath and I was captured by that book so I went cray cray and got that, Outliers, and Blink.

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