Blink by Malcolm Gladwell: Theory of Thin-Slicing

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Thin Slicing is a term used by psychologist and philosophers, but what does it mean? According to Malcolm Gladwell, “It’s the tendency that we have as human beings to reach very rapid, very profound and sophisticated conclusions based on very thin slices of experiences.” Blink is a book by Malcolm Gladwell explaining this theory of thin-slicing. In the book Gladwell tells us many different stories that have to do with thin-slicing. The book has examples of successful thin-slicing, examples showing how it works and what it accomplishes. It also has stories teaching us, the reader of thin-slicing and how it isn’t all that great and completely accurate as well. Some stories that can teach us lessons, which we can learn from not to make the same mistakes over and over. This book is about the unconscious mind and how we don’t know it but it affects us at every moment whether we notice or not. How the unconscious mind picks up patterns from small amount of information or experiences and we make snap judgments based on those patterns. Which most of the time we don’t notice, unless of course you have trained your mind to recognize these patterns, which there’s an example of in the book. All this thin-slicing has its pros and cons I believe Gladwell’s theory is correct; all his examples are backed up by his theory of thin-slicing. He gives evidence to how it works both positively and negatively. The theory of thin-slicing is that we have the ability as human beings to instantly identify specific patterns from within small amounts of experience or information, and we make instant or snap judgments based upon those patterns. What does this mean; it means that our unconscious holds on to information from previous events. From that information our unconscious recognizes certain patterns from the past and catches similarities in current experiences or events and reacts. This reaction although it may sound a bit complicated happens in mere seconds. We don’t recognize what is going on, it happens without us being able to explain it. The book defines it as, “the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience.” Its rapid cognition, the unconscious reacts from recognition to previous patterns in mere seconds; this is what makes it so amazing. At the same time snap judgments from thin-slicing can be very problematic, as we learn from the book in its examples. The first story in the book being a positive one teaches us how thin-slicing works instantly, without being able to explain it. The book starts off at the Getty Museum on its early days, when it was starting off. It wanted to gain some kind of recognition so it made its first big art purchase. It was a 10 million dollar purchase, so the museum took caution. They hired lawyers to check all the paperwork and records of the statue. This statue of a kouros was said to be thousands of years old. There was even a geologist who took samples of the statue and ran it through many different tests and machines. They all concluded that the statue was the real deal and made the purchase in the fall of 1986. This kouros was going to be a great occasion, with stories on the New York Times, and other magazines. A few weeks after the kouros was put on display was when the truth came out. One by one different art experts doubted the statue. They couldn’t explain why at the time, but their immediate reaction to the kouros was just a hunch that something wasn’t right. Why though? What did these experts see what all the other people missed when looking at the statue? They were all intuitively repulsed by this kouros at first sight of it. Eventually all the paperwork and records didn’t fit, they all came to the conclusion that the kouros was a fake. The art experts were taking part of thin-slicing. They knew something wasn’t right the first time they saw it, their hunch was that something wasn’t right, but they couldn’t explain what it was....
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