In Blink (Malcolm Gladwell, 2005), the author argues that rapid cognition can lead to effective decisions. This rapid cognition, so called “snap judgment”, is shown to be correct most of the time, but occasionally wrong. For example, at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, detailed scientific tests incorrectly judged a statue as genuine, but the “snap judgment” from art experts identified the statue as a fake (p 3-8). This example shows that unconscious judgment derived from limited information can be accurate or even superior to analysis, which contradicts the conventional belief in decision making. Furthermore, Gladwell argues that judgment can be both consciously and unconsciously affected by preference, prejudices, and stereotypes. For instance, America’s worst president Warren Harding was elected because his distinguished-looking appearance catered to the preferences for most people, which distorted the public’s judgment. Unconscious bias can also lead to poor judgment. The Implicit Association Tests shows that unconscious stereotype may be utterly incompatible with the stated conscious values (p 77-88). Moreover, Gladwell points out that excess information can also interfere with the accuracy of judgment. That is, collecting more information may only reinforce the confidence but may not improve judgment accuracy, since this information may be irrelevant and confusing to the decision maker. For example, based on little information, General Paul V. Riper triumphed over his opponent in a simulation war game, who had advantageous possession of information (p 72-75). In sum, Blink provides a new perspective into cognition, which revolutionizes the way of thinking.

Blink is an insightful book about intuitive decision making and judgment. Its novel ideas and the accompanying vivid examples easily make readers keeping reading. However, readers are ultimately unable to find any operational suggestions or methods. For instance, in Chapter 4 after readers have just been amused by the power of “thin-slicing” in Chapter 3 and before, they are abruptly told that “thin-slicing” is not reliable, then after a few depressing examples, this chapter ends, leaving the readers lost amid the inconsistent opinions. Such style and design can either be a merit or a limitation. From the view of a general reader, any didactic words may be unnecessary for a best-selling book, for these kinds of books are predominately written for the commercial aim of entertainment, rather than out of education. In this sense, Blink is successful. On the other hand, from the academic point of view, this book lacks logic and instructions. In most cases, Gladwell simply proposes an idea, always a new idea that contradicts the conventional wisdom, and then he throws out a series of descriptive examples without validating them, which seems only to irresponsibly attract eyeballs but lack the confidence to ensure the correctness of arguments. Since this book includes a number of the cutting-edge studies, replacing the long descriptive paragraphs with concise analysis and emphasize more on the logic would probably win Blink a decent place among the popular science readings.