Hence, my overall impression of the book is one of assent, as supporting evidence for the thesis seemed fairly robust. But there are a few flaws and deficiencies as well. Firstly, Gladwell seems to claim that ‘thin-slicing’ is a fairly robust and dependable way of arriving at spot judgments. But this goes against the grain of conventional wisdom as many key decisions in life have to be deliberately considered and decided. The tendency to ‘thin-slice’ suppresses our critical thinking faculties, which is a more dependable tool in the long run. For example, the author seems to suggest that the subconscious, intuitive and the paranormal should occupy a higher place than rationality and rigorous reasoning:
“There can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis… research suggests that what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realize.” (Gladwell, 2005)
But the dominance of the adaptive unconscious and the threat of ‘analysis paralysis’ should not dissuade us from eliminating valuable information from the decision making process. In this aspect, I would say that the author’s emphasis on the validity of ‘thin-slicing’ and the power of the unconscious is exaggerated.
Barring the few criticisms pointed to above, the book is a valuable addition to collegiate libraries. This book is relevant to the classroom, for it exposes students to off-beat occurrences and unusual phenomena which do not usually feature in their textbooks. This will widen students’ intellectual horizons and also sharpen their perceptive ability. Ideally, the book could be incorporated into the psychology/sociology curriculum as an ‘elective’ subject, where interested students can take up credits.
Gladwell, Malcolm, Blink, published by Back Bay Books in 2005, ISBN 0-316-17232-4