Friday, April 6, 2007

First impressions

There’s one more reason why I blog anonymously. You will see that I don’t post any photos, provide an email address or instant messaging ID and I avoid giving out any personal details.

I’m not really paranoid but it’s because extra information tends to distract from your real task at hand, which is reading my blog. If I take away all the excess data, you have no choice but to read my postings rather than play detective to answer the question, “Who on earth is this guy?” That’s what I hope anyway, at least in these early days.

Why I started off the post with these thoughts is because I’ve been recently introduced the term “thin-slicing”. I found out that it’s got nothing to do with making a piece of salami go a long way. It’s the underpinning concept of Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, “Blink”.

Since my last book review I have taken an interest in pop psychology after all. The idea that you can make accurate snap judgments about people and situations in the first 2 seconds just intrigues me. This is what “thin-slicing” is about.

Gladwell puts forward a case for thinking without thinking, which suits me and my depleted brain cells just fine. My head already hurts writing this post.

We thin-slice whenever we “meet a new person or have to make sense of something quickly or encounter a novel situation.” He says, “Snap judgments are, first of all, enormously quick: they rely on the thinnest slices of experience … they are also unconscious.”

But as I said before, just read this blog. Don’t thin slice me.

The book is peppered with many anecdotes about situations when people thin-slice correctly and wrongly. Gladwell gives examples in the context of detecting art forgery, gambling, speed dating, tennis, military war games, the movies, malpractice suits, popular music, and predicting divorce.

The most fascinating vignette he provides is about Silvan Tomkins. Tomkins was an expert at studying facial muscles and what they revealed about people. By looking at mug shots on “Wanted “ posters, he could tell what crimes the various fugitives had committed. And by looking at decades-old photos of tribesmen in Papua New Guinea he could correctly tell which of them were homosexuals and murderers. It was last reported that there will even be a film adaption of Blink starring Leonardo Dicaprio as Silvan Tomkins and directed by Stephen Gaghan. I’ll bear Leonardo this time in the name of intellectual pursuit.

I’m certain that the ability to analyse faces would come in useful all the time. I’m already thinking of interviews, negotiations and selecting half decent Indonesian maids from sketchy biodatas.

I wonder if I have Silvan Tompkins’ gift? Apart from anything else, thin-slicing would provide a cure for boredom on the LRT or generate some minor excitement from mundane events. OK, here goes:






1. Having a bad hair day
2. Misses Magnum P.I.
3. Thinks he's on the New York subway
4. Loves his fries
5. Loves his fries and has a bad hairdresser
6. WTF??!!!!

Sorry for the disappointing analysis. What do you think I am? Psychic?

(note: Photo No. 6 is NOT photoshopped!)


Hafizi said...

Sherlock Holmes wasn't a psychic. But then again he's not real...haha. Anyway what I'm trying to say is we humans ARE judgmental beings whether we admit it or not. We feel sort of vindicated if our guesses/judgements etc is proven to be correct. It's like a little game we play with ourselves.

Maybe you should read Arthur Conan Doyle's fictitious detective for a change, and discover the joy of basking in the judgmental nature that is ours. Good dive into Victorian times too :D


Edroos said...

It's true that most people do pass pass off judgements with or without realising that they actually did. WHether it's the right or wrong one, I guee we are all entitled to our own thought and opinions.

I have to admit I am rather curious to know who is this Mr Incognito. The name itself shrouds itself in mystery. You could be someone dangerous, important or just another bloke who wanna have his thoughts heard. Whatever or whoever you are, your entries are indeed insightful and worth 'thin-slicing'.

But dude, the bearded Mamak Man in sarong.. hehhe that is so wrong.. so so wrong..! Hahahah

Mr Incognito said...

Hafizi >>> Sherlock Holmes eh? I heard he's actually gay. And Dr Watson wasn't just a keen sleuthing assistant.

Edroos >>> it get's weirder dude. That wasn't a bearded mamak man. It was a woman! I like dangerous :)

the incorrigible drama mama said...

..."Don't thin slice me."

Can I just julienne you, steam you up to a desired tenderness and eat you then? ;)

Mr Incognito said...

the cannibalistic drama mama >>> ouch! i prefer to remain raw and whole, thank you very much

awek owen said...

oik. i'm going to sue you for putting up my pic (pic 6) on your blog!

Know any good lawyers?

Ms. Blabs said...

Hullo! Found your blog through DZ's and was utterly intrigued by your nom de guerre. My immediate thin-slicing when I landed here was - does he, like me, like Incognito, the acid jazz group? I know, I yam shallow.. but music crosses all boundaries and levels of intellectuality (or lack of it)!!

2nd thin-slice was - bloody good writer this Mr.I .. nice, light, yet well-thought in his writing. Perhaps I'm more spot-on there? ;)

Will come back for more thin-slices, even though as you said, we're only supposed to have it in the first 2 seconds of an encounter!


izso said...

Nice one. But you really need to work on the face reading bit. Hehe.

And anonymous or not, you'll eventually be found out or revealed accidentally by friends who do know you. Or until the govt insists on all bloggers to be registered. Either way.

Mr Incognito said...

awek owen >>> i know a lawyer who does bearded lady defamation cases. got discount if you have hairy armpits.

Ms. Blabs >>> i knew of the group but after your comment i youtubed them. they are not bad. anyway, typical .. i said don't thin-slice me and that's exactly what you guys would do :-)

izso said >>> it's "almost anonymous." as long as the bearded lady doesn't find out i feel quite safe.

A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

this entry is too intelligent for me to faham. but i enjoyed the pix.

pugly said...

After much thin-slicing, I've come to the conclusion that you are a blood-sucking, wonky-eyed prick who gets his kicks out of capturing the unsuspecting public on his trusty mobile. Simply put, An Annoying Bastard. Am I right, or am I right? X-P

If people were to thin-slice me, they would know that all is not what it seems ;-)

Mr Incognito said...

Babe >>> the entry was just an excuse to post the bearded lady photo

pugly >>> everybody should count themselves that these people were fully clothed

Frankensteina said...

Hey I saw that bearded lady before. She's the parking attendant somewhere in Kampung Baru area right? Shock the effin' out of me the first time I saw her.

trueblue said...

Picture no. 6 is definitely a shocker!

You memang openly take their pictures ke? Be careful. You might get sued :)

Mr Incognito said...

Frankensteina >>> correct! near the masjid pakistan. i was a bit confused when i saw her the first time. i must say the beard was rather well maintained.

trueblue >>> I use the old trick of pretending to sms. If they discover their pics and sue me i take it as a sign that this blog is well read

trueblue said...

Haha..I'm looking at that picture again and still laughing my head off!!!

Theta said...

I have to confess that I do use a more gender-specific form of thin-slicing. That is, through my keen sense of 'GAY-DAR'. I'm confident to say I could detect a male's sexual orientation by going through a biased and short list of physical cues ;-)

Mr Incognito said...

trueblue >>> we shouldn't kan?

Theta >>> hey! who started this vicious rumour that I went to MCKK?

pugly said...

BTW, by the way he looks at you, I think No. 2 fancies you ;-P

NinJaMoo said...

Hahaha...classic. Totally agree with No. 6.

I read Malcolm Gladwell's first book Tipping Point & bought Blink! coz' it sounded like such a good book but have yet to read it. *sigh* I probly should stop buying them & start reading 'em, huh?

Mr Incognito said...

pugly >>> nah. he's eyeing my phone and thinking "if i had a phone like that i could take photos of unsuspecting people and put up dodgy blog posts."

NinJaMoo >>> bet u r just into men with big hair

Ms J said...

uhhh..what a find, this blog! i laiiiikkkkk....

Mr Incognito said...

Ms J >>> thanks for visiting. it's an honour (i've been reading your blog longer than u have mine)

ruby ahmad said...

Interesting read. I have always been intrigued with 'first impressions'. It is a make or break thingy!

Just 2 secs and I read 4 secs. Oh what the heck, too tiny an amount to quibble. Now it is so tiny, my theory is, it is about one sniffing the pheromones of the other and the brain making a quick 2 sec decipher! What do you think?

Mr Incognito said...

ruby ahmad >>> i think i should always remember to put on my deodorant!

ruby ahmad said...

I came here to add another thought, sebab now tengah break..he he. Now that I I read your reply, I jawab lah.

It seems that the brain can differentiate between artificial pheromones and man made ones..ha ha!

Otherwise how come people on dates after lathering all the tons deodarant and yet the brain could detect attraction pheromones..ha ha!

Can't win here!

Mr Incognito said...

ruby ahmad >>> can't argue with a woman's sense of smell. no, correction: can't argue with a woman. (full-stop)

izso said...

Ninjamoo into men with big hair? Hmm.. must tell her hubby to go afro sometime. XD

Btw, what hp-camera are you using? It's so clear

Theta said...

Mr Incognito,
A little bird told me you look like one of those 'jambus' out of MCKK! ;D

miss italiano said...

So, will you be taking pictures of the exotica at that part of the world? Do share ;)

The Pisces Man said...

Ahak ahak, I couldn't stop smiling reading this one..

How did you get them to agree being photographed by you? And where the heck did you find No. 6? Heheheeee.... you sure are persuasive, aren't you?

Anyway, hmmmm.... thin-slicing, thanx for sharing this with us. It's a new knowledge indeed!

Jasmine's Bonda said...

Good writing! Now I'm REALLY intrigued about who you are....'
And so I'm right when I saw pix no 6...she is the parking attendant in Kampung Baru...I bumped my head in the car coz I was shocked SH*tless when I saw her...poor soul..betcha she has a Good heart...hopefully...maybe....what the Hell!

Chop Chee Pan said...


Jambu from MCKK? He looks more like pazuzu ... hey, u are pazuzu's evil twin brother, izzit?

NinJaMoo said...

Mr incognito & Izso: Hubby has his bad hair days ;p So am I like the only one who hasn't seen this woman?!?!???!!!

Jelly said...

I've seen that woman #6 before and I pity her for not being normal...

trueblue said...

Update la...I'm bored..

ioney said...

Yup, #3 looks like he could be on the 7 train in Queens.

Mr Incognito said...

Sorry guys. Been away on holiday!

izso >>> it's a motorola razr. it's ok but i need more pixel power

Theta >>> what little bird? in any case apply some discount due to wear and tear

miss italiano >>> wait and see!

Mr Incognito said...

The Pisces Man >>> of course nobody agreed. i'm just very subtle (read the other comments for where no. 6 comes from)

Jasmine's Bonda >>> yeah, i'm sure she's a nice lady. but she definitely got my attention

Chop Chee Pan >>> pazuzu? nooo... I'm the good twin

Mr Incognito said...

NinJaMoo >>> put that on your to-do list on your next trip back

Jelly >>> bless you.

trueblue >>> kejap lah. still recovering from sunburn ni

ioney >>> or maybe he's got the flu. in any case I didnt want to be too close

Khalid said...

At least diversity is apparent in your country. Mine (your friendly neighbour) is totally one shade of colour. More China people, Less Minorites. Trust me on this. And the politicians aint stopping with bringing in the China PRCs...

I am not trying to be racist but racism is apparent here. Im just a victim.

Aidan's Mama & Papa said...

he's a she? its a her?!!! huh? what? no!!

good writing, love it! the more you write, no matter what you write, i'm begining to miss home more!

how was the holiday?


Mr Incognito said...

Khalid >>> sorry you feel that way, Khalid. Racism happens everywhere whether you like it or not, even in this wonderful country of ours. Me? I'm just a beardist.

Aidan's Mama & Papa >>> dragging my feet to work and already regretting playing that round of beach voleyball which accounts for my aching body. Will write very soon.

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