You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell, is a great insight into the subconscious workings of the brain. Gladwell shows how our thoughts are shaped by forces we don't even know about. We are able to make quick judgements without even knowing how we know.

I was most struck by the description of psych tests where a subject is "primed", by organizing specially chosen words into sentences, to behave in a certain way. After doing the first part of the test, where words were planted, a subject would be instructed to do some other task. If the words were related to old age, he would walk slower. If the words were imbued with respect, he would wait for a much longer time before interrupting a researcher for the next part of the test. It's astounding how much of an impact this can have. Without realizing it, subjects were trained to do act differently, merely by suggestion. This means we really have to stop to examine the subconscious influences that may be affecting our thoughts.

He did not explore much further how our thoughts can be manipulated. One next step would be to examine the code words and language used by politicians, how the public is manipulated by slight shifts in words.

He does mention how our subconscious can betray us, by leading us to make judgements based on prejudices. The police officers who shot an immigrant standing outside his own house one night in New York, mistaking his wallet for a gun, made a snap judgement based on what they expected to see and thought they knew.

Grade: A


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10:35 AM, August 10, 2006  

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