Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Rating: ★★★☆☆

The author starts the book with an event around Getty’s collection of a kouros sculpture: how historians hunch the kouros sculpture might be a fake at the first sight, but all the scientific approaches fail to discover. The author then introduces the center phrase of the book, “thin-slicing”, the human ability to grasp the key of the objects in a very short period of time, and argues it is often more accurate then calculated decisions, because the calculated decision can be polluted by overflowed information and specious evident. Gladwell draw more examples ranging from arts, war-simulation, and medicine to advertising, fire-fighting, sports and speed-dating to demonstrate how we rely on this mostly unconscious ability in our day-to-day life.

Then, Gladwell explains mis-using of thin-slice could also lead to unwanted and sometimes devastating results. This is because our snap judgments are greatly influenced by superficial and biased opinions. That is why talk and good-looking guys are more likely to be elected and black people are often linked with violence symbols. The author hopes by analyzing or at least recognizing the failure can help us avoid the misjudgments.

The problem with the book is, even a lot of interesting examples are presented, the author fails to draw any conclusions on how to know if a blink of decision is good or bad and how to train ourselves to better thin-slicing and avoid mistakes. It seems the only conclusion is the snap decision can be either correct or wrong. It is better to rely on the experts and experienced persons because their decisions are more likely to be right. We gain nothing compared with what we know before reading the book.

More importantly, contradict to what the author tries to prove, I believe more information is always better than less. The only reason that more information sometime becomes misleading is because of our lacking of ability to digest the information. The war-simulation is a perfect example; the simulating team maybe loses today, by adjusting the parameters and aiming the right target, with the help more and more computing power, eventually they will be the winner. This is how Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in 1997, and this is how our human beings advanced over tens of thousands of years.

Leave a Reply