In the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (January 11, 2005), Malcolm Gladwell, a New York Times Bestseller author, illuminates his opinion (argues?) that “thin-slicing,” the ability to come to a conclusion from a limited period of experience, is often better than carefully considered decisions, which is why some of the most accurate predictions created spontaneously are challenging to explain logically.
Gladwell uses a metaphor to support the opinion that decisions should not have to be explained with logic: “As human beings, we are capable of extraordinary leaps of insight and instinct…
Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out” (Gladwell 122). Gladwell compares insight to a flickering candle. Unlike decisions based on logical evidence such as scientific research, datas, graphs, and charts, which are all constant and fixed, a “flickering candle” is not stable. Through the comparison, Gladwell suggests that insight is dependent on instinct and should not be dependent on numerical values that graphs provide. Because insights can be “easily snuffed out”, trying to find an explanation for the instincts and snap judgments one feels and makes can decimate the instantaneous spark of insight. Gladwell also promotes his opinion through the use of repetition to convey how effective “thin-slicing” is: “When the screen created a pure Blink moment, a small miracle happened, the kind of small miracle that is always possible when we take charge of the first two seconds: they saw her for who she truly was” (Gladwell 254).
When individuals think about the word “miracle”, they picture an astonishing outcome that did not seem likely before. The repetition of the word “small miracle” places emphasis on the power of instantaneous impressions and decisions. The ability to see a person’s true character is astonishing given that they are standing behind a curtain. By explaining the “small miracle”, what they (the judges) saw of the person (a musician) through the curtain, Gladwell further expounds the strength of snap judgements as it would have been very unlikely for the judges to have seen the true person if they had been exposed to more information such as the musician’s race, age, or the brand of her instrument. “Thin-slicing” often diminishes the possibility of clouding people’s judgment through unnecessary information and lets individuals create impressively accurate and objective conclusions in just a matter of seconds.
Gladwell’s purpose is to explore the often unrecognized potency of subconscious minds and its cognitive abilities in order to open the eyes of his audience to an unusual but effective way of making decisions and help them realize the true potential that “thinking without thinking” has. The author’s intended audience is a wide range of age groups from young adults to adults. Gladwell appeals to his audience by using neutral diction so that an individual of average education can easily read and understand. He also includes anecdotes that people of almost all groups, regardless of age, race, or gender, can comprehend and identify with. Gladwell uses a colloquial tone throughout the whole book in order to effectively deliver his message to his target audience; however, he does maintain a very analytical and almost critical tone to clearly distinguish the difference between subconscious judgments and deliberately thought-out decisions.