• Ian T. Mena-Wieland

Book Review: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell


Malcolm Gladwell is a Canadian journalist that uses stories and examples to support theories on how humans act and react. Though he is not a psychologist or sociologist, his writings are well regarded.

While Blink is not a firearms related book, it can teach us quite a bit about our reactions and how we perceive information.

The book begins with a story about an ancient artifact that many experts believed to be fake, but could not explain why. Gladwells belief is that we can make some very accurate assessments based on first impressions. He calls this "thin slicing", and asserts that it can be very powerful.

The disadvantages to thin slicing is that we need to be aware of how our prejudices and how we can be manipulated. If you use your previous experience to make split second decisions, you will usually be correct. However, in the only gunplay in the book, Gladwell shows how our experience and what we EXPECT to see can be misleading. In a law enforcement shooting, 4 police officers all made the same error, ending in the death of an unarmed man. Each officer told their part of the story, and their experience said that this man was armed, dangerous, and actively attacking their group. This was erroneous, all officers had the story they were witnessing filled in by previous experience. This thin slicing was then inappropriately applied to the encounter, resulting in the death of an innocent man.

This book is full of interesting stories and studies that keep your mind working. It can be a great addition to your knowledge and can hopefully help the self defender see things more clearly.


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