Blink

The beginning of my summer of popular non-fiction was started with Blink, on audio, that I finished a few weeks ago. Blink is about the way we make a lot of decisions at an unconscious level, some times for good, some times for bad. While I’d heard the “rss version” (i.e. the 1 paragraph synopsis), the book, as always, is way more nuanced than that. I’d highly recommend this book to others.

One of the things I found most interesting about Blink was changes done in police departments to prevent mistakes. It turns out, that once our heart rate goes above 145 beats per minute, we start to loose both rational thinking and motor coordination. Many of the police abuses in the last decade have come at the end of a high speed pursuit, which drives up adrenaline rates, and puts the people whose job it is to defend us into a state where their judgment is largely stripped away by biological constraints. It turns out that by banning high speed chases, and making officiers ride alone, so they need to stop and call for backup before approaching a scene, rates of mistakes and abuse go way down. It’s a simple structural change in the organization that benefits us all.

There are also great sections in there about reading faces, instinct over information overload in millitary war games, and the subtle biases that kept women out of many key roles in classical music until an unrelated circumstance caused blind auditions to be instituted. So many go things in this book, definitely check it out if you get a chance.

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