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How do we make decisions?  And why are some people so much better at it than others? The decisions we make in the blink of an eye are often more complicated than we presume.  The difference between good decision-making and bad has nothing to do with how much information we can process quickly, but on the few details we focus upon.  We can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts-and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more.  Contrary to the model of a rational process involving extensive information gathering and rational analysis, most decisions are made instantaneously and unconsciously. This works well for us most of the time because we learn to ignore extraneous input and concentrate on one or two cues. Sometimes, we don't even consciously know what these cues are. 

  

Think about the last time you conducted jury selection.  How quickly did you decide which jurors you absolutely wanted to keep?  How quickly did you decide which ones would never sit on your jury?  In the blink of an eye, you probably made some rather strong decisions about some of the potential jurors. 

 

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingBlink is about rapid cognition, the kind of thinking that happens in the first two seconds when you encounter a situation.  These instant conclusions can be both powerful and accurate.  Gladwell points out that the conclusions we reach in those first two seconds can be just as worthwhile as the conclusions we reach after collecting extensive information.  He discusses a phrase from psychology, the power of "thin slicing."  Thin slicing says that we are able to make sense out of situations based on the thinnest slices of experience.  In the book's first example, he tells the story of Thomas Hoving, former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Hoving has dedicated his lifetime to studying ancient Greek art.  One day, the curator of the Getty Museum showed him a statue they had purchased for $10 million. 

 

Hoving took one look at the statue and immediately said, "It's fake."  In a split second, the statue had struck him as "wrong."  After an extensive study of the statue by other experts, they agreed - the statue was a fake.  It took the other experts more than a year to reach the same conclusion Hoving reached in a split second.  Why was he able to reach that decision in the blink of an eye?  When you spend a lifetime studying something so closely, you're educating your subconscious.  You develop your instincts to such a fine edge that, in an instant, you can examine an unusual situation and instantly know what it means. 

 

As you read Blink, think about how you evaluate potential jurors.  Develop the power to "thin slice" potential jurors and you will become renowned for your ability to pick a favorable jury before they even say a word.

 

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