I recently read the book “Blink, the power of thinking without thinking“, by Malcolm Gladwell. A book about the magic of experts’ intuition. The book left me with big questions on expertise and intuition, so I had to dig deeper. I am convinced that experts’ intuition is not always reliable, what I found is that it depends on the domain of expertise and the expert’s experience in the domain.
In this post I summarize 2 approaches to intuition:
- Naturalistic Decision-Making (NDM)
- Heuristics and Biases (HB)
The confrontation of these 2 approaches results in 3 conditions for reliable intuition, abbreviated as REF:
For starters, we define intuition as the ability to detect a pattern and solve problems rapidly, without relying on conscious reasoning.
Two Approaches to Intuitive Expertise: NDM vs. HB
The first approach to intuitive expertise is naturalistic decision-making (NDM). It is focused on the decisions made in real life by experienced people such as firefighting commanders, nurses, chess-masters, etc. NDM aims at demystifying the intuition by searching for the cues that led to the expert judgment.
Continue reading “When Can We Trust an Expert’s Intuition?”
- Title: Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
- Author: Malcolm Gladwell
- Publication Date: 2005
- Recommendation Score: 3.5/5
“Blink” is about experts’ intuition. The takeaway of the book is: the experts cannot be fooled easily because of their “thin-slicing” ability, that is, they can judge and find patterns in events based on a narrow window of experience, thanks to their intuition. On the other hand, experts can be easily (catastrophically) fooled, as in the case of “Warren Harding Error” (chapter 3). The book leaves you confused about when to trust an expert intuition and when not to.
Gladwell is a good writer and knows how to attract his reader’s attention. He is a talented journalist, who reads tons of articles and books, and interviews a lot of people, to write a good story. His storytelling style makes the reading of the book pleasant. When it comes to the content, the author is far from being an expert on the topic. In many chapters, Gladwell seems to jump between 2 or 3 stories to come to some conclusion, without citing solid evidence about the conclusion.
If you want to read a book that is based on solid scientific research, “Blink” may not satisfy your need.