The art of Thin Slicing

31 Mar

I just recently read “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” by Malcolm Gladwell. In fact I read it twice just a few weeks apart. And yes I should have mentioned this in my recent “Now Reading” post, but I wanted to talk about it on its own because I loved it.

The best thing about it is that it does something all Gladwell books do; disturb your cosy view of what you “know” to be true. What it’s about is our ability as humans to “thin slice” or process the world around us in very small chunks and very fast.

If there’s any take-aways from this book it’s these:

  1. There’s no such thing as something “everybody knows”
  2. too much information is as bad as not enough
  3. free your mind to think for itself

Something I got out of this: our brains work best when lubed with a little information, not a lot. When you are trying to write about something TOO MUCH research is almost as bad as not enough.

Another fine thing you can take away from this book, and this is very subtle, how LITTLE information you have to give people to convey a complex idea. A turn of phrase, a look, a silence where there should be words. It’s not so much a solution to learning the skill of putting big ideas across in small amounts of words, but it’s a very good starting point.

Learn about human behaviour and watch people. Learn how they move and think and write about that.

It’s fantastic book and I HIGHLY recommend you get it. In fact here’s a link… Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

I recommend you also read Malcolm’s other books too because he is a great writer, and for some reason I get loads of ideas after reading his books. I especially like the audiobooks of his stuff as he has a great voice, full of humour and humanity. Wonderful stuff.


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Posted by on March 31, 2010 in Creative Genius


4 responses to “The art of Thin Slicing

  1. pratibha verma

    April 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    very original and rare ideas

    • Phil South

      April 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks pratibha! You’re always the first to read and comment, and I appreciate that.

  2. Arshed Nabeel

    April 8, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Thank you Phil, for that one. Malcolm is a name that I would surely be checking out.
    The idea of people thinking what they ‘know’ is true, is one of my favorite. Everybody has an idea of his own what the world is like, which he indeed believes, is true to the fullest extend. Why, indeed it is, as far as his own realm is concerned. After all, what’s real and what’s not is in people’s minds, aren’t they?

    It’s a request actually, but why don’t you write on that topic on your blog sometime? 🙂
    I myself plan to put it up on my blog soon, but that’s no match to a recognized blog like yours. 🙂

    Regards, Phil. Hoping to hear from you soon. And by the way, my blog is at

    • Phil South

      April 8, 2010 at 10:41 am

      Hi Arshed, and thanks for commenting. I enjoy getting feedback from people, and glad to know my thoughts are reaching others. And I shall certainly check out your blog. Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll put it on my list of things to cover. Once again many thanks for stopping by.


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