Wednesday, November 3, 2010

BLINK by Malcolm Gladwell

The eyes may be the windows into our soul, but facial expressions are apparently good indicators of everything from how likely a marriage is to survive to how likely a suspect is to pull the trigger on his gun. It seems almost intuitive that over-analyzing is counter-productive, but Malcolm Gladwell gives us lots of examples to prove it, including a war game that made me cringe to think that our military really operates this way. Almost as scary is the process of determining how to handle ER patients with chest pain, in which case too much information may actually be misleading information. The author takes several detours, including one at the end that indicates that first impressions are not always valuable, particularly where a gender or racial bias may come into play. The conventional wisdom that women are inferior to men in the brass section of an orchestra is blown to smithereens by blind auditions. Warren Harding was elected President, apparently because he looked the part. Gladwell also points out that often our choices, in everything from speed-dating to music, do not always bear out what we say we like. In fact, we may claim to dislike something just because it's different, but without innovation, where would we be? Thanks heavens market research is sometimes ignored. In the case of New Coke, the taste tests were taken seriously, and they proved to be totally deceptive, since taking a sip of something is a lot different from drinking an entire 12-ounce can.

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