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Recently I read somewhere, that I should make notes of what I read and review them from time to time. I decided to give it a try, since I read a lot and I think making such notes will be for me a way of remembering best ideas, quotes, or whatever from my books and magazines. I also decided to share those notes with you, in edited form as some have gotten pretty long. In many cases I copied whole passages without noting the page numbers, which is against good reference practices, but of course I will list title and author of a book (or article) where I got the notes from.

I do that with hope that at least some of you will reach for mentioned magazine or book when you will find my notes interesting. Ach, one more thing: small number of notes do not mean that the book or magazine was not good…

Here is what I noted from the book “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell:

The part of our brain that leaps to conclusions […] is called the adaptive unconscious, and the study of this kind of decision-making is one of the most important new fields in psychology. The adaptive unconscious is not to be confused with the unconscious described by Sigmund Freud…

This new notion of adaptive unconscious is thought of […] as a kind of giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.

…we toggle back and forth between our conscious and unconscious modes of thinking, depending on the situation.

We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to the time and effort that went into making it.

The first task of “Blink” is to convince you of a simple fact: decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.

…when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be ware of them? Answering that question is the second task of “Blink”.

The third and most important task of this book is to convince you that our snap judgments and first impressions can be educated and controlled.

“Thin-slicing” refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns in situations and behaviour based on very narrow slices of experience.

When we leap to a decision or have a hunch, our unconscious is […] sifting through the situation in front of us, throwing out all that is irrelevant while we zero in on what really matters. And the truth is that our unconscious is really good at this, to the point where thin-slicing delivers a better answer than more deliberate and exhaustive ways of thinking.

[…] what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realize.

[…] our unconscious attitudes may be utterly incompatible with our stated conscious values.

If you have a strongly pro-white pattern of associations, for example, there is evidence that that will affect the way you behave in the presence of a black person. It’s not going to affect what you’ll choose to say or feel or do. In all likelihood, you won’t be aware that you’re behaving any differently than you would around a white person. But chances are you’ll lean forward a little less, turn away slightly from him or her, close your body a bit, be a bit less expressive, maintain less eye contact, stand a little farther away, smile a lot less, hesitate and stumble over your words a bit more, laugh at jokes a bit less. Does that matter? Of course it does.

Have you ever wondered why so many mediocre people find their way into positions of authority in companies and organisations? It’s because when it comes to even the most important positions, our selection decisions are a good deal less rational than we think.

[…] just because something is outside of awareness doesn’t mean it’s outside of control.

Our first impressions are generated by our experiences and our environment, which means that we can change our first impressions – we can alter the way we thin-slice – by changing the experiences that comprise those impressions.

[…] when experts make decisions, they don’t logically and systematically compare all available options. That is the way people are taught to make decisions, but in real life it is much too slow.

How good people’s decisions are under the fast-moving, high-stress conditions of rapid cognition is a function of training and rules and rehearsal.

[…] focused on the mechanics and the process that they never looked at the problem holistically. In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.

[…] truly successful decision-making relies on a balance between deliberate and instinctive thinking.

If you are forced to consider much more than your unconscious is comfortable with, you get paralyzed. Snap judgements can be made in a snap because they are frugal, and if we want to protect our snap judgements, we have to take steps to protect that frugality.

When we make a split second decision, we are really vulnerable to being guided by our stereotypes and prejudices, even ones we may not necessarily endorse or believe.

Taking our powers of rapid cognition seriously means we have to acknowledge the subtle influences that can alter or undermine or bias the products of our unconscious.

Even though the book promises to teach us how to deal with ingrained, unconscious patterns influencing our decisions, I found it coming too short in that regard. The rest is fine and I knew some of the points made already – sometimes we do or decide things with which we are ourselves baffled. Well, that is our “unconscious mind” deciding. Secondly, delving too much into any process will cause you to lose the reason why you have it in the first place and that is something everyone should remember. For example, if you are processing material to make a decision, you forget to make it – and this should be the outcome of the process.

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