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Book Review: Blink

This book has been a hot topic recently. I first heard about it at InterACT where Larry Rosenberger used it as part of his discussion on the future of analytics. The book is an easy read and full of wonderful stories and vignettes that illustrate Malcolm's points. Essentially the book is about how people make rapid decisions, often before consciously processing the available data, and the good and bad consequences of this. We are all familiar with some of the negative consequences - racial stereotyping for instance - but Malcolm discuses some of the positive ways this impacts effective decision-making. Using a relatively small case of characters and some richly described stories he leads us through an understanding of how rapid cognition works, why it is different from how we analyze things and how it can be more or less effective that any approaches to problem solving.

I particularly enjoyed the stores about people who had trained their snap judgments so that they could make quick and accurate assessments of situations while not being distracted by misplaced reactions and those about how hard it can be to describe a reaction, even if it is a good one.

Now you may be thinking that, if this book is about snap judgments, it is not obvious what it has to do with EDM. Well Larry talked about this some in his presentation at InterACT that was inspired in part by the book and there are a couple of examples that seem to me to be perfect illustrations of how an EDM approach can build on and reinforce the good aspects of our snap decision-making such as Malcolm's discussion of building a heart attack decision tree so as to focus the rapid cognition of doctors on the factors that matter statistically. He also discusses the problems of allowing snap judgments on the basis of how someone looks and this is another area where replacing or augmenting human judgment with analytics and rules can help. Indeed this was the basis for one of the first ad campaigns for the FICO score titled
"Good Credit Doesn't Necessarily Wear a Suit and Tie"


The full ad can be seen here.

This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in how people make decisions. There is a lot more on the blog about analytics as well as a set of analytic FAQs. Lastly you can buy the book here - it's a thought-provoking read.

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