Monday, June 26, 2006

Thoughts on Blink, #1

I finished reading Blink over the weekend.

Definitely a thought-provoking book in certain respects. I'm probably going to be posting some comments/reviews/responses on/of/to several sections of it over the course of the week (if I have enough free time in the lab).

The first thing I wanted to point out--as was pointed out to me--is that Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist, and that seems to be both his weakness and his strength. A strength because he writes well, clearly, and I'm incredibly envious of his ability to get his ideas across in a concise fashion. It's a very accessible book, in that respect. But it's also his weakness, insomuch as he's clearly not a scientist and hasn't been trained as one (I'm not sure if it's fair to claim that his weakness is that he doesn't have a different profession, but whatever). There are several sections of the book where he will do a very good job of providing a simplified explanation of a system or a phenomenon, and then draw conclusions as though the simplified version is the full extent of it. So there are some major map-is-not-the-territory problems on occasion. But still: all-in-all, it seems to be a good book, if only for a good discussion of the ideas he's dealing with.

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