Quick Review of Two Books

“Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell and “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer deal with the same subject, how we make decisions. While tending to cover the same subject they both approach it in different ways.

Gladwell tends to focus on snap decisions, what he calls “thin slicing”. An example that Gladwell uses is an art expert looking at a work of art and the first thing that comes to his mind is that this is fake, without any concrete reason as to why he knows this. Gladwell also looks at the dangers of “thin slicing”, where our snap thoughts are incorrect. There are some great examples in the book and the only downside I found is that Gladwell sometimes goes into a cause and effect argument without exploring if A really caused B.

Lehrer also looks at these snap decisions, how does a quarterback determine which receiver to throw to in such a short period of time with everything is fluid on the field? Then he dives into how we make decisions that aren’t snap ones, which car to purchase for example. Lehrer ties these two decision tress together with how the mind processes such thinking, the rational mind and the emotional mind. Lehrer covers a bit more in the neuroscience behind decision making, but also at times suffers from the cause and effect syndrome.

Both covered how our thinking is manipulated by others, such as advertisers and politicians. Understanding how they do this makes it easy to spot and a way to increase what I call your “bullshit” filter. Both good books and if you are interested in this subject I would suggest reading one or both of them.

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