Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
There are times when we know or feel something right away, however, we have no idea how or why. Malcolm Gladwell takes us on a journey in his book Blink and helps us to understand those unanswered questions. He starts by telling us about “ The statue that didn’t look right.” An art dealer approached the J. Paul Getty Museum in California claiming that he had a kouroi marble statue dating from the sixth century B.C. with the asking price of just under $10 million. Taking the kouroi on loan, the Getty went through extensive tests to determine if the statue was actually genuine. After fourteen months, the museum was satisfied and ready to add the kouroi statue to it’s collection. However, to some, the statue didn’t look right. Italian art historian Federico Zeri couldn’t stop looking at the statue’s fingernails and all Evelyn Harrison, an expert on Greek sculptures could say was , “ I’m sorry to hear that” Neither could explain why but all felt that there was something wrong with the statue. Georgios Dontas, head of the Archeological Society in Athens said that he felt a wave of cold freshness ,and after a consensus of “ intuitive repulsion” from multiple experts, the statue was put through more testing. The result concluded that it was possible to age the marble, making the kouroi false: a statement that took a team fourteen months to realize when it only took experts a first glance. That first glance, or those first two seconds is what Malcolm Gladwell talks about in Blink.
When I first got this book, I was interested yet skeptical. How could a person possibly explain the unexplainable? What caught my eye was the font cover “ The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” How could our brain just know without thinking? Gladwell credits what the experts immediately knew when they saw the statue to the adaptive unconscious in our brain. As I read the book, I found his theories riveting, from the professor that could tell a person’s habits and emotions by looking just at the person’s face to a heartbreaking tragedy of a racial problem, the book brought a whole new meaning to the word “ thinking”. The more I read, the more I found myself compelled to try the different examples he gives throughout the book. In one of the chapters he introduces the Warren Harding effect, which I find extremely interesting. In the chapter, he writes about what most people don’t want to admit: our judgments are often based on physical appearance. People thought that Warren Harding would make a good president because he “ looked” like he would be good. His charming good looks and approachable demeanor gave the people the illusion that he was a born leader, but he had no idea how to lead the people. Warren Harding became one of the worst presidents in the history of the United States. Why have stores such as Abercrombie and Fitch been sued for hiring only pretty people? The answer is simple: no one wants to look at someone that’s not “ hot” or “ pretty” in the retail world. Fashion magazines are always filled with gorgeous models, never ugly ones. Malcolm not only talks about those few seconds when we see something, he talks about what we want to hear and see even though we don’t want to admit it. It is human nature to want the best physically.
The Daily Telegraph wrote a perfect review that sums up the book, “ A wonderful page-turner about….that little-understood phenomenon, the social epidemic.” I find it refreshing that Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t hesitate to write about reality and explains it extremely well. He is candid and succinct, and unlike other informational books I’ve read, Blink is one of the few that has gripped my attention from the start. The way Gladwell explains each chapter makes everything a little bit more understandable and enjoyable. After reading Blink, I often catch myself wondering if I have already subconsciously formed an opinion on certain things without realizing or if I am subjecting myself to new experiences when I have already made up my mind on how much I’m going to enjoy it. Blink has helped me trust my instincts more and believe in those first two seconds of what I see.