The power of thinking without thinking

Malcolm Gladwell - Penguin - 2006 - 304 pages


2023 July 05 | by Arduino Mancini Effective thinking

When we talk about thinking, the first concept that comes to our mind is often related to critical thinking, the kind of thinking that allows us to make our own idea, find a solution to a problem or even make a judgment by analyzing facts and information inspired by logic and scientific evidence.

However, there is another form of knowledge, often overlooked by research, that we apply extensively and instinctively every day and that takes the form of that first, fleeting idea we get of someone or something “in the blink of an eye”.

A “quick cognition” activity that often turns out to be an essential tool for the interpretation of reality, especially in moments of emergency, which can be influenced by the limited time available, by stereotypes and prejudices.

Malcolm Gladwell analyzes, with an impeccable approach, what lies behind spontaneity and immediacy of judgment, and he does so with the brilliant style that is so congenial to him, lowering scientific research into everyday life and arguing his theses with interesting and often amusing anecdotes, bringing us face to face with a large number of remarkable people.

Here is a video clip where the author briefly introduces his book.



But the value of the book lies in the fact that it is a tool that teaches us more about the little-known aspects of intuition, highlighting both the advantages it can provide us and the cognitive errors to which it can lead us.

Impressive, as are Gladwell’s other books (see here Outliers).



  • The statue that didn’t look right
    • Fast and frugal
    • Indoor computer
    • A different and better world
  • The theory of thin-slicing
    • The laboratory of love
    • Marriage and Morse code
    • The importance of contempt
    • Secrets of the bedroom
    • Listening to doctors
    • The power of a glance
  • The locked door
    • Conditioned actions
    • The stories we tell ourselves
    • The Warren Harding fallacy: why we are fascinated by tall, athletic, dark-skinned men
    • The dark side of rapid cognition
    • Black and white eyes
    • Taking care of the customer
    • Recognizing the bloat
    • Thinking about Martin Luther King
  • Paul Van Riper’s big victory: creating structure for spontaneity
    • A morning in the Gulf
    • The structure of spontaneity
    • The risks of introspection
    • An emergency in the emergency room
    • When less is more
    • Millennium Challenge, part two
  • Kenna’s dilemma: the right-and wrong-way to ask people what they want
    • A second look at first impressions
    • The “Pepsi Challenge”
    • The blind guiding the blind
    • “The death chair”
    • The expert’s talent
    • “What the record companies are doing to you is shameful.”
  • Seven seconds in the Bronx: the delicate art of mind-reading
    • Three fatal errors
    • The theory of mind reading
    • The naked face
    • A man, a woman and a light switch
    • Arguing with a dog
    • When there is a lack of white space
    • “Something inside me told me I should wait to shoot”
    • The tragedy of Wheeler Avenue
  • Conclusion
  • Listening with your eyes
    • The lessons of blink
    • A small miracle, 123
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