Decisions and Words, a relationship

A number of my recent posts have dealt with decision making, and here are two authors who take rather opposite views in their discussion of how and why people make some of their decisions.

Perhaps you have heard of Malcolm Gladwell and his book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking? I have not read his book, but have heard enough about it to say he discusses the idea of decision making via intuition, or in the “blink” of an eye.

Madeleine Van Hecke, in her book Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, takes a rather different perspective. She argues that decisions made quickly, on the spur of the moment, are often poorly made decisions. Sometimes we think we already know enough to make informed decisions but wind up getting side swiped by our “blind spots.” (I have not read her book, either.)

Both these authors explain themselves in places other than their books:

To Think or to Blink? – a SharpBarins post by Madeleine
Point of Inquiry interview with Madeleine – Malcolm’s blog
TED Talk by Malcolm

2 thoughts on “Decisions and Words, a relationship

  1. synapsesensations Post author

    Hi Madeleine,

    Many thanks for clarifying the contents of both your book and Blink. Your intro has encouraged me to read both books (will get hold of them next week from my school’s library). It sounds like I should begin with Blink and then read Blind Spots. Looking forward to the combined content!


  2. Madeleine Van Hecke

    I think both Malcolm Gladwell and myself agree that intuitive decisions are sometimes right on target – and sometimes downright terrible. The big difference between us is that Gladwell wasn’t writing a “how to improve your thinking” sort of book. Gladwell does a great job of demonstrating through captivating examples and research that sometimes our seat of the pants decisions really are terrific. Though he says that people can learn to improve their intuitive decisions, he really offers only two pieces of advice on how to do that. 1) Develop your expertise in particular areas, because blink decisions are most likely to be good decisions when they are steeped in experience and knowledge. 2) Be careful of making quick decisions in high-pressure, intensely emotional situations. There you probably need to slow down. In Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things, I am urging people to, generally speaking, be more rather than less reflective. Since Blind Spots is a self-improvement book, I offer strategies to help us reflect in ways that let us discover – and overcome – the blind spots that can make even the smartest people blunder. Definitely read Blink – it’s fascinating, fun, and thought-provoking. But if you want to take steps to make better decisions, also read Blind Spots.

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