Saturday, January 15, 2005

Am I Right or Am I Right or Am I Right?

David Brooks reviews Malcolm Gladwell's new book Blink and sort of comes to the same conclusion I did without reading it. The idea is crap. But I should reserve judgment before reading it, shouldn't I? But wait a minute, the whole thesis is that you should follow your gut, act instinctually. OK, then, it's crap.

Sensitive, careful thinking, indecisive people like me everywhere should offended!

Seriously though. What do you do for an encore when you come up with a groundbreaking "new idea"? (The Tipping Point.) Why you try to come up with another groundbreaking idea, of course, and push it whether it works or not. You come up with a gimmick. A book about that's really just about something we're already aware of and even informally call a "snap judgment."

I'm sure there's some truth it, but, come on ya'll, how about some balance? Certainly, we have to trust our visceral instincts sometimes, perhaps often. But you know what? Often our instincts are dead wrong. Some folks' instincts tell them to, oh, punch, stalk, rape, lie, and cheat. Some folks' "instincts" tell them there *must* be aliens among us and angels watching over them. That God wanted them to marry that wife beater. Some folks' instincts tell them, "Oh, they wouldn't fire me" or "I don't need to save for retirement, my kids will take care of me." To make a reliable snap judgment, you still have to have the benefit of experience, be in a relatively stable state of mind, and, well, be a fairly sensible sort of person. Context is everything, too. Put me in a CEO's job for a day and I could make all sorts of jugdments and probably send the company spirally financially into the toilet within a couple of hours. But I would probably make a better snap judment about where to place a comma in a sentence than the CEO would. (Guess which sort of judgment pays more?)

I'll posit something else some may find alarming: some people should trust their instincts more than others. Because some people's instincts are colored by certain feelings and predispositions more than others. On the other hand, some may trust their intuition, be successful because of it, but still be mighty assholes in the process. (Hello? Mr. Trump?) Because, let's face it, success, unfortunately, isn't always predicated on being nice or good or right.

Anyway. The Bush administration will probably make this book required reading. After all, the thesis is pretty much "Act now, think later!" Isn't it?

Of course, I could be wrong. Naw . . . it just feels *so* right. I'm gonna go with my gut.

*A star by your name if you can name the movie alluded to in the heading.


No comments: