Monday, October 11, 2010

Blink (Malcolm Gladwell)

Excellent, highly recommended.

I now want to write blogposts about global warming, on the having of too many opinions, and why Sarah Palin will make an excellent President.

Maybe later...


  1. Gladwell is right to highlight the power of utility of intuition. He also draws attention to some of its problems.

    The question that bothers me is this (and from what I recall Gladwell doesn't really attempt to answer it):

    Intuition can sometimes beat foreground conscious thought hands down, but sometimes it's disastrously wrong. How can we tell (in advance of results) which case is which? Or to put it another way, how do we know when to trust intuition, and when not to?

    A similar problem applies to the Wisdom of Crowds. Sometimes crowds are very wise, but sometimes they are very stupid.

    On another tack, isn't it telling that people contrast intuition with "rational" thought? One of the nice things about Gladwell's book is that he shews how intuition can be eminently rational (the University of Iowa red/blue card experiment is such a lovely demonstration of this).

  2. Oh, Rev. Sam. Stop, I beg you, with the Sarah Palin thing. I really can't take it anymore.

    (I mean, I think you're wonderful, but you've really lost your marbles in this area. Have you read Andrew Sullivan on the topic at all? You must....)

  3. (Sir Watkin! Fancy seeing you here!


    I agree completely that "intuition can be eminently rational" - and haven't heard many others say so. Haven't heard of that study, either, but am going to go Google it now.)

  4. Sir Watkin - I think the answer is to be found by further exploring 'judgement', which he only touches on at the end. For me, I would want to talk about the Aristotelean virtue of phronesis - see here for one of my talks on this:

    bls - I don't have a particularly high view of Andrew Sullivan, not least because of his rantings about SP (eg that she wasn't Trig's mother). If I do write that post, it will essentially be along the lines of: just as a consideration of his record indicated that Obama would be the disaster he has proven to be, so too a consideration of Palin's record will indicate a strong likelihood of success. But I don't suppose I'll persuade the unconverted!!
    You might find that link of interest too, btw. In fact, I might repost it the top of the blog.

  5. Actually, I haven't seen Sullivan's thing about the child; I agree that's really over-the-top. I was referring to his "pathological liar" posts. He makes a good case there - but actually I'll take back my advice to read him, because I don't, anymore. He does get tiresome in many ways.

    I'm not a big fan of Obama - although I was glad he won the election, for many reasons - but Palin would be a catastrophe. I stopped taking McCain seriously the moment he chose her and never have taken him seriously again. I'll try to find some non-Sullivan anti-Palin links for you.

    Thanks for the link!


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