Over the last few years Malcolm Gladwell has become one of the most prolific and well-known nonfiction writers and has had immense success with books like Outliers and The Tipping Point.

In his book Blink, Gladwell makes the case for what he calls “ thin slicing”. Thin slicing is basically a snap decision that we make often times without knowing exactly why have made that decision or come to a particular conclusion. The book opens with a story of a Greek kouros that was bought by the Getty Museum. The artefact underwent the usual checks for authenticity by industry experts. However, after the purchase, two historians looked at the kouros and felt there was something off about it. This is an example of thin slicing, a snap judgment, a gut feeling, intuition. All of this, according to Gladwell is our brain’s capacity to rapidly sift through a huge amount of information and make a decision even in the first few seconds of seeing something. As you probably guessed – the two historians were right, the kouros was in fact a fake.

As you continue through the book there are numerous anecdotes that illustrate this point of thin slicing and Gladwell makes the argument that often times we believe the more information we have the better we make decisions. This is not always the case. The author has done an incredible amount of research and he draws on experiences and research studies from around the globe and across disciplines and makes for very interesting reading. It moves from studies which try to determine how successful a marriage will be based on watching the interaction of a married couple for a few minutes as they discuss mundane things, to speed dating and to a tennis coach who could predict the success of a serve.

“How wonderfully interesting,” you might say, and I’d agree. However, the book doesn’t seem to go much deeper than the anecdotes. Gladwell doesn’t provide a real argument or even explain how the brain does all of this. And while it’s true that he isn’t a neuroscientist, it does seem that there is something missing from the book. There isn’t a fully developed argument around his main point. However, the well researched anecdotes and interesting facts make for good dinner party conversation and for sounding like you know a thing a two. So even if there are some flaws to the book, perhaps the saving grace and ultimate test is to drop some well timed factoids in conversation and see if it helps people thin slice you into the category of interesting, intelligent and sophisticated… or not.