Summary of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Thin-slicing: the art of speed reading.

‘Thin slicing’ or/and summary of Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

The key concept of Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by (and Spd Rdng) is ‘thin-slicing’, which is our instinctual or intuitive ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience. In other words, spontaneous decisions are often as good as – or even better than – carefully planned and considered ones. Gladwell draws on examples from science, advertising, sales, medicine, and popular music. However, your ability to thin-slice can be corrupted by your likes, dislikes, prejudices and stereotypes, and you can be overloaded by too much information.

The key message is to learn when to trust your gut reaction. A key strategy for getting the gist of a book is to ‘thin slice’ the cross-section of the book to get as much of the message as possible without reading it from cover to cover.

How do you slice a cake in order to find out what it’s like?
(Obviously, you cut a vertical slice  – but most people read books as if they were eating a cake layer by layer)


Speed read microsummaries of Malcolm Gladwell’s books


Thin slicing principle

The aim when you’re reading a book for factual information is to get as much information as possible by reading as few words as possible. (What Malcolm Gladwell calls ‘thin-slicing’ in his book ‘Blink’.) Previewing is an excellent start to this process.

How would you cut a cake in order to find out what it’s like? Obviously, you’d cut a thin slice vertically (hence thin-slicing). But for many people, the way they read a book (chapter by chapter) is like eating a cake one horizontal layer at a time. You have to eat almost the whole thing in order to be sure what the cake is like. Not very efficient!

Thin-slicing is the ultimate art of speed reading. Previewing is thin-slicing. Reading summaries is thin-slicing. If somebody tells you the gist of the book that’s thin-slicing as well. Summarising a book with one or two words is the ultimate thin-slicing. My best favourite thin-slicing is of Out of Our Minds: What We Think and How We Came to Think It by Felipe Fernández-Armesto who summarised it / thin-sliced it in just ONE WORD… “divergence”.

Read more on the strategy of thin-slicing

Read as much as you can in the time available. Read for bite-size chunks of valuable info.

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