Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blink and its gone

Without coming off too much as a book reviewer I think this book has a lot going for it. In terms of making me look at myself in a very 3rd personish fashion I think nothing else could have been a better stimulant.

For those of you unfortunate enough not to know it (as I was until a few weeks ago) drop what you're doing, run out and get it - Blink, Malcol Gladwell. Trust me this one's a keeper.

So 2 or 3 things stand out for me when I think about the book in the context of my life at the present time.

- Are we all a little bit autistic?
- We are all prejudiced about certain things and have set beliefs which are difficult to change.
- And in a traingular test almost all of us will not tell the difference beween coke and pepsi

A little bit about Autism - Its apparently an affliction where one's mind is not to able to read another persons mind, to be mind blind in a way. So for example if you looked at me pointing at something in the distance you would automatically look at that thing, because you have unconciously put yourself in my mind and are doing what I'm doing but not so many an autistic person. He would stare at some part of me or something that his mind acknowledges as the most important component in that moment and he will tend to focus on that.
So, apparently all of us have levels of autistic behavior that we may exhibit on a day to day basis. An assasin tried to kill the North Korean President, he gets up a few feet away from the president pulls out his gun, he's so nervous that he shoots himself in the foot, then points the gun at the president and manages to shoot his wife in the head instead, killing her, the presidents bodyguard stands up and drills the assasin only to end up shooting a boy next to him.
How long did all that take - about 3 seconds apparently. So when time is collapsed like that and you are tasked with something as unimaginable as this - you are basically autistic, there is no time to react, to think, to even rely on any training you may have had...

Shamefully prejudiced
There are these tests that one can take, it's as simple as matching phrases as they would in your mind relate to people - here's one that I made up - if you had 'Volvo/doctor' to match up with 'hip-hop' or 'classical' which one would you choose without having to think conciuosly. When it comes to race I'm deeply confused. As someone of color I'm as racist as the next person. So can one become better at these tests and prove to be less racist over time? Not easy, there's this guy (who's white) who kept doing the tests everday - no improvement, then one day he comes into the office and finds a marked improvement, so he thinks back and realizes he was watching the olympics on TV the night before. Get it?

Will that be a coke or pepsi?
This one irks me. Most of us can maybe tell the difference between coke and pepsi if we do a 2 way (1 glass each) test. The harder one is the 3 way test where you have 2 of one and one of the other. Now you have to keep inside your memory the taste of the first one, like lock this thing away so you can retrieve it and do that comparison - I'll blog about this when I can get to that level.


Blogger momochan1974 said...

lend me that book pulease

3:06 PM

Blogger wan said...

I maybe not getting your points yet since I haven't read the book but I've known all along that there are some sense of "racism" - if you want to call it that - in me. But I feel quite secure in admitting it, not only because I'm also a person of color, but it's also crucial to have that sense for survival.

By survival, I don't mean like the show survivor or stranded in an plane crash on top of Andes or something. It means being able to function properly in day to day life. There was a research that said everyday in our lives, we had to make hundreds, if not thousands of decisions. Especially when you're working in a technical field. It ranges from whether you want to wake up when your alarm rang, which side of the bed you wake up from, and hundreds more decisions to make as you drive to work.

Making those decisions look easy now and we do it instinctively. And we HAVE TO otherwise we'll have to pause too often to function in our daily life. I guess we must have learned how to think fast.

But there's something else there too. In real life, you don't always have all the information that you need to make certain decisions. There're always holes or missing data that you need. But you have to make that decision anyway. This is where those profiling/racism may comes in. I really don't think it's that ugly. Is it really that wrong to think that volvo/doctor is classical when it's basically true 90% of the time? It becomes wrong when you start getting more data that tells you that for a particular situation, you're dealing with the 10% share but you still stubbornly stick with the 90%.

I'd better read the book before putting my shoe in my mouth further.

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