31 October 2010

Blink

Before I get into Blink, I really have to write about where I am.  I am at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs, next to the Garden of the Gods.  It is a Christian retreat with lodges, chalets, and a freaking castle!  Anyway it is cold, dark, and utterly deserted out here, and I can't help but mentally relive The Shining as I roam the empty halls of the lodge where I am staying.

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So.  Blink.  First off, it's by Malcolm Gladwell, and I rather enjoyed it.  It was about the various factors that influence our ability to assess things in the blink of an eye - hence the title - though really, it's the first two seconds that he studies.

The thesis of the book is that our unconscious minds use "thin-slicing" to take in only the essential data for reaching decisions, far quicker than our conscious mind does.  What he has discovered is that our unconscious minds can read situations extremely quickly and with the bare minimum of data - one example he uses is a psychologist studying marriages who has developed a way to tell if a marriage will last or not, based on observing a 2-minute snippet of conversation.  Not the conversation, though - just the body language.  (Forgive me if I've gotten the details wrong, the book is back in Kansas City.)  And he could predict it with something like 80% accuracy.  (Again, I may be fudging a bit.  I will try to revise once I get back home!)

While this is a powerful ability of our brain, it can at times be befuddled - for example, if we are given too much information, we lose the ability to focus on what is important.  Our unconscious biases can affect our judgments as well.  However, with training and experience, we can hone our ability to thin-slice, and reduce the impact of our biases.

The more I reflect on it, the more I realize how profound Blink was.  It definitely made me stop and take a long look at what things I might be biased about, whether for or against.  And I will definitely try to pay more attention to the way I analyze situations.  I'd recommend it for anyone.

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Books: Finished Blink.  Starting Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Bottles:  None.  Hope to go to a Wine Spectator Award-Winning restaurant (don't know which one yet) while here in Colorado Springs.  Will definitely share my experience!

Writing: I drove 11 hours today and am only writing this.  I don't feel like that's a lame excuse.  There's just not that many hours in the day.  Sigh...I need to learn to sleep less.  Or something.

Guitar:  Well, since the guitar is in Kansas City...