TH!NK – Michael LeGault’s reasoned Response to BL!NK

kinnon —  January 28, 2006 — 1 Comment

Th!NkI’ve made reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s book, BL!NK a number of times on this blog and have always enjoyed this New York based, Canadian-raised writer’s work. I read Blink last year while sitting at a sky hill on the US side of the Canadian border in North Dakota. (Make that a ski valley – as the runs went down the valley towards the Red River – hills are few and far between in this part of the prairied world) My kids and our friends’ kids enjoyed the day while I sat by the fire and read.

My response to the book was mostly positive but I did find the book a little unsettling. Particularly in light of someone else I knew who was reading it. This person operated in a world of "snap decisions" where critical thinking wasn’t even on the radar, and I knew they would use the book to justify their actions. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong in my concerns.

The book I’ve just begun to read, TH!NK, is both a response to BL!NK and a wake up call to American society to realize "Why Crucial Decisions Can’t Be Made in the Blink of an Eye." In his first chapter, Don’t Blink, Think – LeGault askes the pertinent question, "If first impressions are so important in modern society in establishing close relationships, why is the divorce rate so high?" (Page 11) The question is in response to Blink’s section on "speed dating" where Gladwell appears to posit that "first impressions are the best validation of people’s characters and personalities." On the next page, LeGault states about Gladwell;

He allows that our biases can lead automatic judgments astray, but provides no definitive insight on how to improve our snap-judgement ability other than "practice". In fact, critical scientific reasoning almost always involves a component of intuition, and intuition is almost always informed by experience and hard knowledge won by reasoning things out. When Einstein was working on his theory of special relativity, he had a "hunch" that energy and matter were different versions of the same thing. Not until he worked out the equations using his astounding powers of critical reasoning, arriving at the famous E=mc², was his hunch worth a damn.

I’ve only begun to "crack the book open," as it were, and am already impressed with the writing of this Canadian-based, American writer. (There is a weird mirrored symmetry to Gladwell and LeGault.) TH!NK is an important book and one I would recommend you purchase and read. And this recommendation is only from my reading of the first chapter (and the NOTES Index at the end of the book.) I’ll attempt to comment more as I delve further into the book.

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kinnon

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

One response to TH!NK – Michael LeGault’s reasoned Response to BL!NK

  1. The book Th!nk is an self proclaims retort. In which Michael LeGault attempts to respond to the premise that there is value in irrational, or emotion-driven, thought. I was, therefore, looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, I found LeGault’s work pretentious and maybe even flawed. While he does much to set up a context for uses of critical thinking, he does little more than state that they are better than egalitarism, which he never fully explains. The main flaw in this work is that the author is not attempting to convince, rather, simply “isness” us all into believing that what is right is right. While he states many facts about rational thinking, when it comes to why we should follow such thinking, LeGault fails to prove that it is better than, or even separate from, any contending view. Unfortunately LeGault’s approach was dogmatic and not inclusive. It often read too much like a university paper than enlightened reasoning. The author closed many statements by stating his opinion, which- in the context of subject matter- rational or critical thinkers must ultimately ignore. LeGault would have done a better service if his biases were not so obvious and his political views not so outstanding. While much talk is made in this book of science and scientific thinking, LeGault’s approach is purely and obviously political, and therefore counterproductive. It is hard to enjoy this book without a view predisposed to that of the author. Perhaps the author should have used this counterpoint in his approach. If it is there, it is lost in all the minutiae of rhetoric and cliché examples.

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