Blink – Malcolm Gladwell
Page Ten – In those moment when presented with a lot of new and confusing information, our brain uses two very different strategies to make sense of the situation. The first is the one we are most familiar with – the conscious strategy – we think about what we have learned, and eventually come up with the answer. It is slow and it needs a lot of information: The second – operate a lot more quickly – operating below the level of consciousness. It’s the system which reaches conclusion without immediately telling us it is reaching the conclusions. We make what we want to be real. – Second level thinking can be referred to as ‘Intuitive Repulsion’
Page Eleven – The part of the brain which operates at this level is referred to as the Adaptive Unconscious. This is not the Dark Place of Sigmund Freud filled with desires and memories and fantasies which are too disturbing for one to think about consciously. It is instead, thought of as a giant computer which quickly and quietly processes a lot of the data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.
When you walk down the street and suddenly realize that a truck is bearing down on you, do you have time to thinks of your options? Of course not. The only way human beings have ever survived as a species for as long as we have is that we have developed another kind of decision-making apparatus that is capable of making very quick judgments on very little information.
Timothy Wilson ‘Strangers to Ourselves’ – ‘The mind operates most efficiently by relegating a good deal of the high-level, sophisticated thinking to the unconscious, just as a modern jet-liner is able to fly on automatic pilot with little or no input from a human or ‘conscious’ pilot – The adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning people of danger, setting goals, and initiating action in a sophisticated and efficient manner’
Our unconscious is a powerful force – But it is fallible. It is not the case that our internal computer always shines through, instantly decoding the ‘truth’ of a situation. It ca be thrown off, distracted, and disabled. Our instinctive reactions often have to compete with all kinds of other interests and emotions and sentiments. So when should we trust our instincts, and when should we be wary of them. When our powers of rapid cognition go awry, they go awry for a very specific and consistent set of reasons, and those reasons can be identified and understood. It is possible to learn when to listen to that powerful onboard computer and when to be wary of it.
There can be and are very powerful first impressions and snap judgments which can be educated and controlled. Just as we can teach ourselves to think methodically and logically, so to can we train our intuitive senses.
It is to dwell on the very smallest of component of our lives – the content and origins of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that spontaneously arise whenever we meet a new situation or have to make a decision under conditions of stress. When it comes to the task of understanding our world, we pay too much attention to those grand themes and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments. – But what would happen if we took our instincts seriously? What if we stopped scanning the horizon with our binoculars and began instead examining our own decision-making and behavior through the most powerful microscopes? It might change the way wars are fought, the kind of products we see on the shelves, the kinds of movies that get made, the way police officers are trained. . . If we were to combine all those little changes, we would end up with a different and better world. The task of making sense of ourselves and our behavior requires that we acknowledge there can be as much value in the blink of an eye as in months of rational analysis. Marion True – Getty Museum ‘I have always considered scientific opinion more objective than esthetic judgments. . . Now I realize I was wrong’
Page Twenty – three – ‘Thin-Slicing’ refers to the ability of our unconscious to find patterns and behavior based on very narrow slices of experience. . . It too, is part of what makes the unconscious so dazzling. But it is also what is most problematic about rapid cognition. How is it possible to gather the necessary information for a sophisticated judgment in such a short period of time? The answer is that when the unconscious engages in Thin-Slicing, what we are doing is an automated accelerated unconscious function of the brain.
Page Twenty – four – ‘Yes But’ – It takes Ten Yes-buts to make One What-if: Fifty What-ifs to make One Inkling: and One Hundred Inkings to make a Clue.
Page Twenty – seven – Morse Code – The Fist – Morse Code is made up of dots and dashes, each of which has its own prescribed length. But no one ever replicates those prescribed lengths perfectly. When operators send a message – particularly using the old straight key or the bug – they vary the spacing or stretch out the dots and dashes or combine dots and dashes and spaces in a particular rhythm. Morse Code is like speech: Everyone has a different voice. . . The key thing about fists is that they emerge naturally. Radio operators do not deliberately try to sound distinctive. They simply end up sounding distinctive, because some part of their personality appears to express itself automatically and unconsciously in the way they work the Morse Code keys. We have to listen to only a few characters to pick out an individuals pattern. It doesn’t change or disappear for stretches or show up only in certain words or phrases.
Page Thirty-two – The Four Horsemen – When Thin-Slicing one doesn’t need to focus on everything that happens. You will be overwhelmed by the task of counting events. Be far more selective, particularly in a negative environment, focus only on the Four Horsemen: Defensiveness – Stonewalling – Criticism – Contempt, the most important expression of all being Contempt
Page Thirty-five – The Big Five Inventory
Extraversion – Are you sociable or retiring/ Fun-loving or reserved
Agreeableness – Are you trusting or suspicious? Helping or uncooperative?
Conscientiousness – Are you organized or Disorganized? Self-disciplined or weak willed?
Emotional stability – Are you worried or calm? Insecure or secure?
Openness to new experiences – Are you imaginative or down to earth? Independent or conforming
Page Forty-three – The Power of the Glance – Thin-Slicing is not an exotic gift. It is a central part of what it means to be human. We thin-slice whenever we meet a new person or have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation. We thin-slice because we have to, and we come to rely on that ability because there are are lots of fists out there, lots of situations where careful attention to detail of a very thin slice, even for no more than a second or two, can tell us an awful lot.
In the military, brilliant generals are said to possess ‘coup d’oeil’ which translated form the French, means ‘the Power of the Glance’: the ability to immediately see and make sense of the battlefield. Ornithologists call this ‘Giss’.
Page Forty – five – . . . In order to make somebody laugh, you have to be interesting, and in order to be interesting, you have to do things that are mean. Comedy come out of anger, and interesting comes out of angry – otherwise there is no conflict. But he [the actor] is able to be mean and you forgive him/her, and you have to be able to forgive somebody, because at the end of the day, you still have to be with him/her even having made choice you don’t agree with. All of this is not thought out in words beforehand, it is an intuitive decision which only later you can deconstruct.
Page Fifty – two – Our world requires that decisions be sourced and footnoted, and if we say how we feel, we must be prepared to elaborate on why we feel that way. It is a lot easier to listen to the scientists and the lawyers because the scientists and the lawyers can provide pages and pages of documentation supporting their conclusions. Such an approach is a mistake, and if we are going to learn to improve the quality of the decisions we make, we need to accept the mysterious nature of the snap judgments. We need to respect the fact that it is possible to know without knowing why we know and accept that – sometimes – we’re better off that way
Page Fifty – five – As a society, we place enormous faith in tests because we think that they are a reliable indicator of the test taker’s ability and knowledge. But are they really? If a white student from a prestigious private high school get a higher SAT score than a black student from an inner-city school, is it because he/she is truly a better student, or is it because to be white and to attend a prestigious high school is to be constantly primed with the idea of ‘smart’?
Even more impressive, however, is how mysterious these priming effects are.
Page Fifty – eight – This may suggest that what we think of as free-will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act on the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realize.
Page Sixty – Crystal Meth – Addicts can articulate very well the consequences of their behavior. But they fail to act accordingly. The damage to the ventromedial area of the brain causes a disconnect between what you know and what you do. What is lacking is the cranial valet pushing them in the right direction, adding the little emotional extra to make sure they do the right thing. In high-stakes fats moving situations, we want to be as dispassionate and purely rational as the next person. We don’t want to stand there endlessly talking – grinding – through our options. Sometimes we’re better off if the mind behind the locked door make our decisions for us.
Page Seventy – three – The Warren Harding Error – ‘ . . . an army of pompous phrases moving across the landscape in search of an idea. . .’
Page Seventy – six – The Warren Harding Error is the dark side of rapid cognition. It is the root of a great deal of prejudice and discrimination. It is why picking the right candidate for a job is so difficult and why, on more occasions than we may care to admit, utter mediocrities sometimes end up in positions of enormous responsibility. Part of what it means to take thin-slicing and first impressions seriously is accepting the fact that sometimes we know more about someone or something in the blink of an eye than we can after months of study. But we also have to acknowledge and understand those circumstances when rapid cognition leads us astray.
Page One Hundred – One Hundred – Nineteen – Paul Van Riper’s War 1968 – ‘He was always out in the field or out near his bunker, figuring out what to do next. If he had an idea and he had a scrap of paper in his pocket, he would write that idea on the scrap, and then, when we had a meeting, he would pull out seven or eight little pieces of paper. Once he and I were in the jungle a few yards away from a river, and he wanted to reconnoiter over certain areas, but he couldn’t get the view he wanted. The bush was in the way. Damned if he didn’t take off his shoes, dive into the river, swim out to the middle and tread water so he could see downstream.’ – Richard Gregory
Page One Hundred – eight – Paul Van Riper’s War[Game] 2000 – Part I – This was not a just a battle between two armies, it was a battle between to perfectly opposed military philosophies. One side had their databases and methodologies for systematically understanding the intentions and capabilities of the enemy. The other was commanded by a man making a thousand instant decisions an hour.
On the opening day of the game the first team poured thousands of troops into the area. They parked an aircraft carrier battle group just offshore. There with the full weight of of its military power in evidence, they issued an eight-point ultimatum to Van Riper, the eighth point being the demand to surrender. They acted in utter confidence, because their Operational Net Assessment matrixes to them what Van Riper’s vulnerabilities were, what his next move was likely to be, and what his range of options was. But Paul Van Riper did not beahave as the computers had predicted.
The first team knocked out his microwave towers and cut his fiber optics lines an the assumption that Van Riper would now have to use satellite communications and cell phones and they could monitor his communications.
‘They said that I would be surprised by that’ Van Riper remembers, ‘Surprised? Any moderately informed person would know enough not to count on those technologies. that’s a ‘First Team’ mindset. We communicated with couriers on motorcycles, and messages hidden inside prayers. They said, ‘How did you get your planes off the airfield without the normal chatter between pilots and the tower?’ I said, Does anyone remember World War Two? We’ll use lighting systems.’’
Suddenly the enemy that the First Team thought could be read like an open book was a bit more mysterious. What was Van Riper doing? He as supposed to be cowed and overwhelmed in the face of a larger foe. But he was too much of a gunslinger for that. On the second day of the battle he put a fleet of small boats up against the aircraft carrier battle group to track the ships. Then without warning, he bombarded them in an hour-long fusillade of cruise missiles . At the end of the surprise attack, sixteen ships lay on the bottom. Had the ‘game’ been real instead of just a ‘game’ twenty thousand servicemen and women would have been killed before their own army had fired a shot.
‘As the commander, I’m sitting there and I realize the First Team had said that they were going to adopt a policy of preemption’ Van Riper says, ‘ So I struck first. We had done all the calculations on how many cruise missiles their ships could handle, so we simply launched more than that, from many different directions, from offshore and onshore, from air, from sea. We probably got half of their ships. We picked the ones we wanted. The aircraft carrier, the biggest cruisers. There were six amphibious ships. We knocked out five of them.’
In the weeks and months that followed, there were numerous explanations from the analysts about exactly what happened that day in July. Some would say it was an artifact of the particular way war games are run. Others would say that in real life, the ships would never be as vulnerable as they were in the game. But none of the explanations change the fact that the First Team suffered a catastrophic failure. The rogue commander did what rogue commanders do. He fought back, yet somehow this fact caught the First Team by surprise.
The critical lesson of improvisation is key to understanding the puzzle of what happened to the First Team. Spontaneity is not random. Paul Van Riper’s team did not come out on top in that moment because they were smarter or luckier tahn their counterparts of the First Team. How good people’s decisions are under conditions of rapid cognition are a function of training and rules and rehearsal.
Improvisation – Keith Johnstone – ‘Bad improvisers block action often with a high degree of skill: Good improvisers develop action.’
Do you have to be particularly quick-witted or clever or light on your feet to improvise? Not really. Improvisation arises entirely out of how steadfastly the participants adhere to the rule that no suggestion can be denied. If you can create the right framework, all of a sudden, engaging in the kind of fluid, effortless, spur-of-the-moment dialogue/[action] that make for good improvisation, the work/theater become a lot easier. This is what Paul Van Riper understood. He didn’t just put put his team up and hope and pray that dialogue/action would pop into their heads. He created the conditions for successful spontaneity.
The Perils of Introspection – On Paul Van Riper’s first tour of Southeast Asia, when he was out in the bush, serving as an advisor to the South Vietnamese, he would hear gunfire in the distance. He was then a young lieutenant new to combat, and his first thought was to get on the radio and ask the troops if the field what was happening. After several weeks of this, however, he realized that the people he was calling on the radio had no more idea than he did about what the gunfire meant. It was just gunfire. It was the beginning of something – but what that something was was not clear.
So Van Riper stopped asking: On his second tour of Vietnam, whenever he heard gunfire, he would wait.
‘I would look at my watch. . .’ Van Riper says ‘ and the reason I looked was that I wasn’t going to do a thing for five minutes. If they needed help, they were going to holler. And after five minutes, if things had settled down, I still wouldn’t do anything. You’ve got to let people work out the situation and work out what’s happening. The danger in calling is that they’ll tell you anything to get you off their backs, and if you act on it and take it at face value, you could make a mistake. Plus you are diverting them. Now they are looking upward instead of downward. you’re preventing them from resolving the situation.’
Van Ripper carried this lesson into the Game: ‘ The first thing I told our staff is that we would be in command an out of control, [ref:- Kevin Kelly] by that, I mean that the overall guidance and the intent were provided by me and the senior leadership, but the forces in the field wouldn’t depend on intricate orders coming from the top. They were to use their own initiative and be innovative as they went forward. Almost every day the commander of the air forces came up with different ideas of how he was going to pull this together, using these general techniques of trying to overwhelm the First Team from different directions. But he had no specific guidance from me of how to doit, just the intent.’
Once the fighting started, Van Riper didn’t want introspection. He didn’t want long meetings. He didn’t want explanations. ‘I told our staff that we would use none of the terminology that the First Team was using. I never wanted to hear the word ‘effect’, except in normal conversation. I didn’t want to hear about Operational Net Assessment. We would not get caught up in any of these mechanistic processes. We would use the wisdom, the experience. And the good judgment of the people we had.’
This kind of management system clearly has its risks. It meant Van Riper didn’t always have a clear idea of what his troops were up to. It meant he had to place a lot of trust in his subordinates. It was, by his own admission, a ‘messy’ way to make decisions. But it had one overwhelming advantage: allowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly turn out to be like the rule of agreement in Improv. It enables rapid cognition.
Page One Hundred – Nineteen – Picture in your mind, the face of the waiter or waitress who served you the last time you ate in a restaurant, our the person who sat nesxt to you on the bus. Any stranger you have seen recently will do. Now, if I were to ask you to pick that person out of a police line-up, could you do it? . . Recognizing someone’s face is a classic example of unconscious cognition. We don’t have to think about it. Faces just pop into our minds. If you take a pen and paper and write down and write down in as much detail as you can what your person looks like, describe his/her face. What colour is his/her hair? What was he/she wearing? . . Believe it of not, you will now do a lot worse at picking that face out of a line-up. This is because the act of describing the face has the effect of impairing the otherwise effortless ability to subsequently recognize that face.
Jonathan W. Schooler, who pioneered research on this effect, calls it verbal overshadowing. Tour brain has a part [the left hemisphere] that thinks in words, and a part [the right hemisphere] that thinks in pictures, and what happened when you described the face in words was that your actual visual memory was displaced. Your thinking was bumped from the right to the left hemisphere. When you saw the face in the line-up the second time around, what you were drawing on was your memory of what you said the face looked like, not your memory of what you saw the face looked like.
Page One Hundred – Twenty – one – Insight Puzzle – [A giant inverted pyramid is perfectly balanced on its point. Any movement of the pyramid will cause it to topple over. Underneath the pyramid is a $100.- bill. How do you remove the bill without disturbing the pyramid?] – [Solution – Destroy the bill] – With a logic problem asking people to explain themselves doesn’t impair their ability to come up with answers. In some cases, in fact, it may help. But problems that require a flash of insight operate on different rules.
[Jonathan W. Schooler] – ‘It’s the same kind of paralysis through analysis you find in sports contexts. . . [The need fill ‘Airspace] when you start becoming reflective about the process, it undermines your ability. You lose the flow. There are certain kind of fluid, intuitive, nonverbal kinds of experience that are vulnerable to this process.’
As human beings, we are capable of extraordinary leaps of insight an instinct. We can hold a face in memory, and we can solve a puzzle in a flash. But what Schooler is saying is that all these abilities are incredibly fragile. Insight is not a lightbulb that goes off inside our heads. It is a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out. . .
In the game, this is exactly the mistake the First Team made. They had a system in place that forced their commanders to stop and talk things over and figure out what was going on. That would have been fine if the problem in front of them demanded logic. But instead, Van Riper presented them with something different. The First Team thought they could listen to Van Riper’s communications. But he stared sending messages by couriers on motorcycles. They thought he could not launch his planes. But he borrowed a forgotten technique from World War II and used lighting systems. They thought he couldn’t track their ships. But he flooded the theater with little PT boats. And then, on the spur of the moment,Van Riper’s field commanders attacked, and all of a sudden what the First Team thought was a routine ‘kitchen fire’ was something they could not factor into their equations at all. They needed to solve an insight problem, but their powers of insight had been extinguished.
[Paul Van Riper] – ‘What I heard is that the First Team had all these long discussions. They were trying to decide what the political situation was like. They had charts with up arrows and down arrows. I remember thinking – Wait a minute. You were doing that while you were fighting? – They had all these acronyms. The elements of national power were ‘diplomatic – informational – military – and economic’. That gives you DIME. They were always talking about the First team DIME. Then there were the political – military – economic – social – infrastructure -, and information instruments – PMESI. So they’d have these terrible conversations where it would be our DIME versus their PMESI. I wanted to gag. – What were you talking about? – You know you get caught up in forms and matrixes , in computer programs, and it just draws you in. They were so focused on the mechanics and the process that they never looked at the problem holistically. In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning’
[Major General Dean Cash] – ‘The Operational Net Assessment was a tool taht was supposed to allow us to know all – Well obviously it failed’
Page One Hundred Thirty – seven – Goldman’s Algorithm, wherein too much information become a hindrance rather than a help is a key point in explaining the breakdown of the First Team on that day in the theater – the extra information was useless. It’s harmful. It confuses issues.
Page One Hundred – Forty – two – Overloading a decision with information make the process harder, not easier. To be a successful decision-maker, we have to edit. – When we Thin- Slice, when we recognize patterns and make snap judgments, we do this process of editing unconsciously. We can get in trouble when this process of editing is disrupted – when we can’t edit, or we don’t know what to edit, or our environment doesn’t let us edit. – You say to yourself instinctively, ‘I want that one.’ And if you are given too many choices, if you are forced to consider much more than you unconscious is comfortable with, you get paralyzed. Snap judgments can be made in a snap because they are frugal, and if we want to protect our snap judgments, we must take steps to protect that frugality.
Page One Hundred – Forty – three – This is precisely what Paul Van Riper understood. He and his staff did their analysis. But they did it first, before the battle started. Once the hostilities began, Van Riper was careful not to overload his team with irrelevant information. Meetings were brief. Communication between headquarters and the commanders in the field was limited. He wanted to create an environment where rapid cognition was possible. The First Team, meanwhile, was gorging on information. They had a database, they boasted, with forty – thousand separate entries in it. In front of them was the CROP – a huge screen showing the field of battle in real time. Experts from every conceivable corner of the US government were at their service. They were seamlessly connected to the commanders of the military services in a state-of-the-art interface. They were the beneficiaries of a rigorous ongoing series of analysis’ about what their opponents next moves might be.
But once the shooting started, all that information became a burden.
[Paul Van Riper] – ‘I can understand how all the concepts that the First Team was using translate into planning for an engagement, but does it make a difference in the moment? . . When we talk about analytic versus intuitive decision making, neither is good or bad. What is bad is if you use either of them in an inappropriate circumstance. Suppose you had a rifle company pinned down by machine-gun fire. And the company commander calls his troops together and says ‘we have to go through the command staff with the decision making process.’ That’s crazy. He should make a decision on the spot, execute it, and move on. If we had had the First Team’s processes, everything we did would have take twice as long, maybe four times as long. The attack might have happened six or eight days later. The process draws you in. you disaggregate everything and tear it apart but you are never able to synthesize the whole. It’s like the weather. A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure, or the winds, or even the temperature. He needs to know forecast. If you get caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data’
[Colonel James Van Riper] – ‘You are looking at a chess board. Is there anything you can not see? No. But are you guaranteed a win? Not at all, because you can’t see what the other guy is thinking. More and more commanders want to know everything, an they get imprisoned by that idea. They get locked in. But you can never know everything.’ . . ‘It’s like Gulliver’s Travels, the big giant is tied down by those little rules and regulations and procedures. And the little guy? He just runs around and does what he wants.
Van Riper’s War [Game] – 2000 – Part II – For a day and a half after Van Riper’s surpise attack on the First Team, an uncomfortable silence fell over their headquarters. The the Game Masters stepped in. they turned back the clock. The sixteen lost ships were refloated. In the first wave of his attack, Van Riper had fired twelve thatre ballistic missiles at various ports where First Team troops were landing. Now the Game Masters told him all twelve of those missiles had been shot down, miraculously and mysteriously, with a new kind of missile defence. Van Riper had assassinated the leaders of the pro-First Team countries surround the theatre. Now, he was told, those assassinations had no effect.
[Paul Van Riper] – ‘The day after the attack, I walked into the command room and saw the gentleman who was my number two giving my team a completely different set of instructions. – It was things like: shut off the radar so the First Team are not interfered with. Move ground forces so marine can land without interference. I asked, Can I shoot down a V-Twentytwo? – And He said, No you can’t shoot down any V-Twentytwo’s – I said, What the hell’s going on here? – He said, Sir, I’ve been given guidance by the program director to give completely different directions. The second round was all scripted, and if they didn’t get what they liked they’d just run it again.’
Van Riper’s War [Game] – 2000 – Part II, The Sequel – Round two was won by the First Team in a rout. There were no surprises the second time around, no insight puzzles, no opportunities for the complexities of the real world to intrude of the Game. And when the sequel was over, the analysts were jubilant. The Fog of War had been lifted . The military had been transformed, and with that, the commanders confidently turned their attention to the real thing. A rogue dictator was threatening. He was virulently anti-US. He had a considerable power base from strong religious and ethnic loyalties and was thought to be harboring terrorist organizations. He needed to be replaced and his country restored to stability, – if they had CROP and PMESI and DIME – how hard could that be.
Page One Hundred Eighty – four – DOD Scale [Degree of Difference]
Page One Hundred Eighty – eight – Kenna [On Music] – ‘I guess they’ve gone ti their focus groups, and the focus groups have said, – No it’s not a hit – They don’t want to put money into something that doesn’t test well. – – But that’s not the way this music works. This music takes faith, and faith isn’t what the music business is about anymore. It’s absolutely frustrating, and it’s over whelming as well. I can’t sleep. My mind is running. But if nothing else I get to play, and the response from the kids is so massive ans beautiful that it make me get up the next day and fight again. The kids come up to me after the show and say – it sucks what the record companies are doing to you. But we are here for you, and we’re telling everybody.’
Page One Hundred Ninety – seven – Three Fatal Mistakes – Perhaps the most common – and the most important – forms of rapid cognition are the judgments we make and the impressions we form of other people. Every waking minute that we are in the presence of someone, we come up with a constant stream of prediction and inferences about what that person is thinking and feeling. When we meet someone new, we often pick up on subtle signals, so that afterward, even though he or she may have talked in a ‘normal’ or friendly manner, we may say, ‘I don’t think he liked me’ or ‘I don’t think she is very happy.’ we easily parse complex distinctions in facial expression. If you were to see me grinning for example, with my eyes twinkling, you’d say I was amused. But if you were to see me nod and smile exaggeratedly, with the corners of my lips tightened, you would take it that I had been teased and was responding sarcastically. If I were to make eye contact with someone, give a small smile, and then look down and avert my gaze, you would think I was flirting. If I were to follow a remark with a quick smile and then nod or tilt my head sideways, you might conclude that I had just said something a little harsh and wanted to take the edge off it. You would not have to hear anything I was saying in order to reach these conclusions. They would just come to you – BLINK.
If you were to approach o one-year-old child who sits playing on the floor and do something a little puzzling, such as cupping your hands over hers, the child would immediately look up into your eyes. Why? Because what you have done requires explanation, the child know she can find the answer in your face. This practice of inferring the intentions and motivations of others is classic Thin-Slicing. It is picking up on subtle, fleeting cues in order to read someones mind – and there is almost no other impulse so basic and so automatic at which, most of the time, we so effortlessly excel. . .
The Diallo Case
Mistake One – He was considered suspicious – Location, Race, Gender, Appearance.
Mistake Two – Appeared unaffected by the presence of force, Curious
Mistake Three – Appeared dangerous, Actually Terrrified
Observed on the basis of agenda.
These kinds of mistakes were/are not anomalous events. Mind-reading failures happen to all of us. They lie at the root of countless arguments, disagreements, misunderstandings and hurt feelings. And yet, because these failures are so instantaneous and so mysterious, we don’t really know how to understand them.
Page One Hundred Ninety – eight – Affect, Imagery, Consciousness
Silvan Tomkins – Paul Ekman
Affect, Imagery, Consciousness
Paul Ekman – Wallace Friesen – Action Unit – defining the forty-three facial muscle movements – [Paul Ekman] – ‘There are three-hundred combinations of two muscles, . . if you add a third muscle, you get over four-thousand. We took it up to five muscles, which is over ten-thousand visible facial configurations’ – Most of the ten-thousand facial expressions don’t mean anything. . . They are the kind of nonsense faces that children make. But, by working through each action-unit combination, Ekman and Friesen indentified about three-thousand that did seem to mean something, until they had catalogued the essential repertoire of human facial displays of emotion
Page Two hundred – four – Ekman and Friesen ultimately assembled all these combinations – and the rules for reading and interpreting them – into the Facial Action Coding System, or FACS, and wrote them up in a five-hundred page document. It is a strangely riveting work, full of such details as the possible movements of the lips – [elongate: de-elongate: narrow: widen: flatten: protrude: tighten: stretch] – the four different change of the skin between the eyes and the cheeks – [bulges: bags: pouches: lines] – and the critical distinctions between anfraorbital furrows and the nasolabial furrow. Reseachers have employed Ekman’s system to study everything from schizophrenia to heart disease – it has been put to use by computer animators at PIXAR and DREAMWORKS. FACS takes weeks to master in its entirety. But those who have mastered it gain an extraordinary level of insight into the messages we send to each other when we look into one another’s eyes.
Page Two Hundred Twenty – four – Our mind, faced with a life threatening situation, drastically limits the range and amount of information that we have to deal with. Sound and memory and broader social understanding are sacrificed in favor of heightened awareness of the threat directly in from of us: the narrowing of the field of view of the senses allows focus on the threat in front of you.
The optimal heart rate for performance in such situations is 115 – 145 Beats per Minute. Beyond this, most of us under extreme pressure, get too aroused, and past a certain point , our bodies begin shutting down so many sources of information that we begin with become useless.
we begin to see absolute breakdown of cognitive processing. . . The fore-brain shuts down, and the mid-brain – the part of the brain that is common to all animals – reaches up and highjacks the fore-brain. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with an angry or frightened human being? You can’t do it.’
Vision becomes even more restricted. Behavior becomes inappropriately aggressive. In an extraordinary number of cases, people who are being
fired upon void their bowels because of a heightened level of threat
represented by a heart rate of 175 [BPM] and above, the body considers
that kind of physiological control a non-essential activity. Blood is
withdrawn from our outer muscle layer and concentrated in core muscle
mass. The evolutionary point of that is to make the muscles as hard as
possible – to turn them into a kind of armor. But that leaves us clumsy
Page Two Hundred – thirty – Gavin de Becker – White Space – The distance
between a target and a potential assailant. The more white space there is
the more time there is to react.
[Gavin de Becker] – ‘When you remove time. . . You are subject to the
lowest-quality intuitive reaction.
Page Two Hundred Thirty – three – [Kieth Payne] – ‘When we make a split-second decision, . . . we are guided by our stereotypes and prejudices, even ones we may not necissarily endorse or believe.’
Page Two Hundred Thirty – four – Rational for One Person Cars – . . . Many police departments have moved toward one-officer squad cars instead of two-officer cars. That may sound like a bad idea, because surely having two officers working together make more sense. Can’t they provide backup for each other? Can’t the more easily and safely deal deal with problematic situations? The answer in both situations is, no. An officer with a partner is no safer than an officer on his own. Just as important, two officer teams are more likely to have complaints filed against them. With two officers, encounters with citizens are far more likely to end in an arrest or an injury to whomever they are arresting or a charge of assaulting a police officer. [Why? Because when police officers are by themselves, they slow things down, when the are with someone else, they speed things up.]
[Gavin de Becker] – On one person Police Cars – ‘All Cops want two-man cars, you have a buddy to talk to. But one-man cars get into less trouble because you reduce bravado. A cop by himself make an approach that is entirely different. He is not as prone to ambush. He doesn’t charge in. He says – I’m going to wait for the other cops to arrive – He acts more kindly. He allows for more time.’
[When approaching a potentially dangerous situation you have to slow things down, even if the circumstances are ‘fast-breaking’, you have time on your side, reducing to potential of error and too often the situation becomes ‘fast-breaking’ because you have let it become so.] – Notes
Page Two Hundred Thirty – seven – The critics of police conduct invariably focus on the intentions of individual officers. They talk about racism and conscious bias. The defenders of the police, on the other hand, invariably seek refuge in what James Fyfe calls the split-second syndrome – An officer goes to the scene as quickly as possible. He sees the bad guy. There is no time for thought. That scenario requires that mistakes be accepted as unavoidable. In the end , both of these perspectives are defeatist. They accept the fact that once any critical incident is in motion, there is nothing that can be done to stop or control it. And when our instinctive reactions are involved, that view is all too common. But that assumption is wrong. Our unconscious thinking is, in one critical respect, is no different from our conscious thinking – in both, we are able to develop our rapid decision making with training and experience.
Page Two Hundred Thirty – nine – One Officer’s Account of a High Stress Moment – It was dusk. He was chasing a group of three teenage gang members. One jumped the fence, the second ran if front of the car, and the third stood stock-still before him, frozen in the light [of the car] – ‘As I was getting out of the passenger side [of the car]
The kid stared digging in his waistband with his right hand. Then I could see that he was reaching into his crotch area , then that he was trying to reach toward his left thigh area, as if he was trying to grab something that was falling down his pants leg. – He was starting to turn around toward me as he was fishing around in his pants. He was looking right at me and I was telling him not to move – Stop! Don’t Move! Don’t Move! My partner was yelling at him too, Stop! Stop! Stop! As I was giving him commands, I drew my revolver. When I got about five feet from the guy, he came up with a chrome .25 auto. Then, as soon as his hand reached his centre stomach area, he dropped the gun right on the sidewalk. We took him into custody and that was that.
I think the only reason I didn’t shoot him was his age. He was fourteen, looked like he was nine. If he was an adult I think I probably would have shot him. I sure perceived the threat of that gun. I could see it clearly, that it was chrome and that it had pearl grips on it. But I knew that I had the drop on him, and I wanted to give him just a little more benefit of the doubt because he was so young looking. I think the fact that I was an experienced officer had a lot to do with my decision. I could see a lot of fear in his face, which i also perceived in other situations, and that led me to believe that if I would just give him a little more time that he might give me an option to not shoot him. The bottom line was that I was looking at him, looking at what was coming out of his pants leg, identifying it as a gun, seeing where the muzzle was gonna go when it came up. If his hand would’ve come out a little higher from his waistband, if the gun had just cleared his stomach area a little bit more, to where I could see that muzzle walk my way, it would’ve been over with. But the barrel never came up, and something in my mind just told me I didn’t have to shoot yet.’ – How long was this encounter? Two seconds? One and a half seconds? But look at how the officer’s experience and skill allowed him to stretch out that fraction of time, to slow the situation down, to keep gathering information until the last possible moment. . . This is the gift of training and expertise – the ability to extract an enormous amount of meaningful information from the thinnest slice of experience. To a novice, that incident would have gone by in a blur. But it wasn’t a blur at all. Every moment – every Blink – is composed of a series of discrete moving parts, an d every one of these parts offers an opportunity for intervention, for reform, for correction.
Page Two Hundred Forty – two – Tragedy on Wheeler Avenue –
So there they were: Sean Carroll – Ed McMellon – Richard Murphy – Ken Boss. It was late. They were in the South Bronx. They saw a young black man and he seemed to be behaving oddly. They were driving past, so they couldn’t see him well, but right away they began to construct a system to explain his behavior. He’s not a big man, for instance. He’s quite small. – What does small mean? It means he’s got a gun. . . He’s out there alone. At twelve-thirty in the morning. In this lousy neighborhood. . . Alone. . . A black guy. He’s got a gun – otherwise he wouldn’t be there. And he’s little to boot. Where’s he get the balls to stand out there in the middle of the night? He’s got a gun. – That’s the story you tell yourself. . .
They back the car up. Carroll said later he was – amazed – that Diallo was still standing there. Don’t bad guys run at the sight of police officers? Carroll and McMellon get out of the car. McMellon calls out ‘Police. Can we have a word’ Diallo pauses. He is terrified, of course, and his terror is written all over his face. Two towering white men, utterly out of place, in that neighborhood at that time of night, have confronted him. But the mind-reading moment is lost because Diallo turns and runs back into the building. Now it’s a pursuit, and Carrol and Mcmellon are not experienced officers. . . They are raw. They are new to the Bronx and new to the Street Crime Unit and new to the unimaginable stresses of chasing what they think is an armed man down a darkened hallway. Their heart rates soar. Their attention narrows. Wheeler Avenue is an old part of the Bronx. The sidewalk is flush to the curb, and Diallo’s apartment building is flush to the sidewalk, separated be a four-step stoop. There is no White Space there. Now Diallo runs. When they step out of the quad car, McMellon and Carrol are no more than ten or fifteen feet away from Diallo. Diallo runs. It’s a chase! Carrol and McMellon were just a little aroused before. What is their heart rate now? 175? 200? Diallo is now inside the the vestibule, up against the the inner door of his building. He twists his body sideways and digs at something in his pocket. Carrol and McMellon have neither cover nor concealment: there is no door pillar to shield them, to allow them to sloe the moment down. They are in the line of fire, and what Carrol sees is Diallo’s hand and the tip of something black. As it happens, it is a wallet. But Diallo is black, and it’s late, and it’s the South Bronx, and time is being measured no in milliseconds, and under those circumstances we know that wallets invariably look like guns. Diallo’s face might tell him son=meting different, but Carrol isn’t looking at Diallo’s face – even if he were, it isn’t clear that he would understand what he saw there. He’s not mind-reading now. He’s effectively autistic. He’s locked in on whatever is coming out of Diallo’s pocket. Carrol yells out – HE’S GOT A GUN! – and he starts firing. McMellon falls backward and starts firing – and a man falling backward in combination with the report of a gun seem like it can mean only one thing. – He’s Been Shot! So Carrol keeps firing, and McMellon sees Carrol firing, so he keeps firing, and Boss and Murphy see Carrol and McMurphy firing, so they jump out of the car and start firing too.
The papers the next day will make much of the fact that forty-one bullets were fired, but the truth is that four people with semi-automatic pistols can fire forty-one bullets in about two and a half seconds. The entire incident, in fact, from start to finish, was probably over in less time than it has taken you to read this paragraph. But packed into those few seconds were enough steps and decisions to fill a lifetime.
Carrol and McMellon call out to Diallo – One Thousand One – He turns back into the house – One Thousand Two – They run after him, across the street and up the steps – One Thousand Three – Diallo is in the hallway, tugging at something in his pocket – One Thousand Four – Carrol yells out HE’S GOT A GUN! The shooting starts – One Thousand Five – One Thousand Six – Bang! Bang! Bang! – One Thousand Seven – Silence. Boss runs up to Diallo, looks down on the floor, and yells out, ‘Where’s The Fucking Gun?’ and thens runs up the street toward Westchester Avenue, because he has lost track in the shouting and the shooting of where he is. Carrol sits down on the steps next to Diallo’s bullet-ridden body and starts to cry.
Page Two Hundred Fifty – two – BLINK: Lesson One – We can be, and too often are biased by the corruption of our snap judgments – ‘Taking our powers of rapid cognition seriously means we have to acknowledge the subtle influences that can alter or undermine or bias the products of our unconscious. – Lesson Two – Make the necessary changes in your operating system to allow for this acknowledgment. – ‘Too often we are resigned to what happens in the blink of an eye. It doesn’t seem like we have much control over whatever bubbles up from our unconscious. But we do, and if we can control the environment – [of the first two seconds] – in which rapid cognition takes place, the we can control rapid cognition. We can prevent the making of mistakes in critical situations.
Page two Hundred Fifty – four – Create the environment necessary to achieve a pure Blink Moment, take charge of the first two seconds.