About a month ago I moved into the new apartment and Laura purchased a few books; of the three that she acquired, one did not appeal at all, one was by Sarah Silverman and thus appealed negatively, and one was mildly interesting. I decided to read the most interesting of the three: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

A combination research, case studies, interpretation, and original thoughts, Blink’s main premise is thus: the brain does a lot of stuff subconsciously. Some of those things, ala split-second decision making, it can do really well. In certain instances the rapid thought processes can outperform calculated decision making. Moreover, a lot of problems that seem very complex on the outside - for instance determining whether a marriage will succeed or a doctor will be sued for malpractice - can be determined based on an incredibly small amount of data.

Unfortunately, the book spends about 50-80 pages establishing those points and then the next ~150 floundering, repeating itself, and making suspect connections. The first few research endeavors presented are very interesting, but when the author starts to deviate from those or is left to his own evaluations of events, he comes up short.

A quick example: In his discussion of the medical malpractice study, Malcolm manages to undermine his entire focus in the final sentence.

The text quite often goes back to the early studies, sometimes drawing them in where they’re only tangentially connected to the point, sometimes trying to show things through them that isn’t quite appropriate, and sometimes just brazenly repeating things over and over. At best it’s unnecessary padding; at worst it’s misleading.

The final 1/3rd of the book is especially painful; the author seemed to have lost his point by then and was presenting case studies, forcing in his own ideas and hoping the previous text would back up those interpretations. He all but abandons research, instead relying on his own interpretations to carry him, but he never lives up to the actual studies he presented earlier.

I can’t recommend this book. I was excited about it when I was starting, and it created some interesting talking points with coworkers, but after that it left me unimpressed. I’d suggest finding a researcher in the field to point to some good academic articles instead.

It ends in QED. You can’t argue with math.