‘Blink’ Suitable Read for College Students

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink!” is about the first two seconds of looking. It is about a single glance that Gladwell refers to as “a wave of ‘intuitive repulsion,’…as opposed to concveivable strand of evidence.”

Blink appears to be a comboination of psychological experimentations, clinical tests and an exploration of the mysteries that seem to control “the power of thinking without thinking” writes Gladwell.

Gladwell begins his story in 1983 when Gianfranco Becchina, an art dealer, approached the J.P. Getty Museum in California about a marble statue dating back from the sixth century known as “Kouros,” a sculpture of a nude male youth standing with his left leg forward and his arms at his side. The statute stands about 7- feet-tall, a rare find at under $10 million.

Gladwell provided all the tiny details that convinced the Getty why the “Kouros” was the real thing. “The ‘Kouros’ appeared reminiscent of the Anavyssos Kouros in the National Archeological Museum in Athens,” he writes. So, the Getty borrowed the statue and brought it to the Getty’s museum for evaluation.

A geologist from University of California named Stanley Margolis examined the “Kouros” for two days with all kinds of analyzers, i.e, electron microscope, mass spectrometry, X-ray diffraction, and several other probing scientific instruments. He concluded that the statue in question was old, and not fake.

Fourteen months after the investigations of the “Kouros” began, Getty’s curator of antiquities, Marion True, wrote a glowing account of the statue for the art journal, the Burlington Magazine.

In True’s account, the “Kouros” expressed…and embodied all the radiant energy of the adolescence of Western Art. But Federico Zeri, an Italian art historian who served on the Getty’s Board of Trustees, found something was wrong with the sculptured finger nails. So did Evelyn Harrison, the world’s foremost expert in Greek sculptures.

No one knows what Harrison saw. She did not know it either, but sensed that something was amiss. All Harrison had was a hunch, an instinctive sense that something was wrong.

A few months later, Thomas Hoving, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York came to see the statue as well. “It’s ‘fresh’ — ‘fresh,'” he recalls. The author wrote this quote I copied it, verbatim — the fallacy of this book maybe? I think Hoving meant, it was a new statue, an impostor. You be the judge.

Something popped into Hoving’s mind: “The ‘Kouros’ looked like it was dipped in the very best coffee latte from Starbucks,” Gladwell writes — meaning that the “Kouros” in question was not a 2000-year-old statue (the book and AP Style? use two-thousand-year-old statue, your choice, page 6).

George Despinis, the head of the Archeological Society in Athens said, “Anyone who has even seen a sculpture coming out of the ground could tell that that thing has never been in the ground.”

The kind of “Blink” Gladwell writes about appears to be something that popped into someone’s mind, in two seconds, to get an answer to a question that begged for further investigation. In the end, the “Kouros” was shipped to the Acropolis Museum in Athens, for further analysis by Georgios Dontas, head of the Archeological Society in Athens, who concluded that the statue was a fake. Dontas said that when he first laid eyes on it (Kouros) he felt a wave of “intuitive repulsion,” that the Kouros was not at all what it was supposed to be — the power of a glance.

Gladwell’s opening is old news for some readers who may have read it in Scientific American and other art magazines, years back. But he writes that Blink is about those first two seconds, a kind-of rapid cognition — a first impression.

After several other examples, like in a variety of gambling games that will test a gambler’s brain system on how it reaches conclusion without knowing it; he also discusses that brain leaps into conclusion he calls adaptive unconscious; then he brings out his theory of thin-slicing, where he said, “a little bit of knowledge goes a long way.”

According to Gladwell, at the University of Washington’s psychologist’s laboratory, a young good looking couple, blue eyed, blond, fair skin were connected to electrodes and sensors clipped to their fingers and ears while they were talking aimlessly.

During those 15 minutes time of the experimentation, the young couple was video taped. The psychologist, John Gottman was making a calculation in reading how long would the young couple’s marriage last. “Gottman is attributing his experiment to conscious and deliberate thinking in rapid cognition known as thin-slicing … making the unconscious so dazzling,” Gladwell writes.

In “Blink!,” Gladwell brings to his readers a multitude of events, countless, in experimentation to probe his point about Blink, the first two seconds that matter.

Oftentimes readers may find it confusing to connect with the focus of the book, but Gladwell repeatedly brings his readers back to the Kouros every end of his examples and chapters. He appears to be reminding his readers where they are at a certain point, and why his examples are relevant to his subject matter, concluding that Blink is all about the two seconds of looking — the first impression. To those interested to explore general and social psychology, or mass communication, this book, Blink!, could be for you.

The book is available at all major bookstores.

Rating is 1 and 1/2 out of four.