This column was written by CBS News Early Shot Co-Anchor.
This will never become Oprah's book club, but from time to time I will give you a heads up on some good things I'm reading. The other day I started "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell.
At the very beginning of the book Gladwell explains how the Getty Museum out in Los Angeles bought what they thought was a 2,000-year-old piece of sculpture. Almost immediately they began to wonder if it was authentic and spent months and remarkable amounts of money to justify their purchase. Along the way several prominent experts in the field needed only to glance at it to determine it was fake.
Click here to listen to MP3 of Harry Smith's commentary.
Gladwell's "Blink" talks about that accumulated and often intangible knowledge we often possess that allows us to pass judgment in a second. A judgment it turns out, which is more often correct than not.
Gladwell tells the story of movie producer Brian Grazer who cast the then unknown Tom Hanks in "Splash". There were better looking actors, funnier ones, smarter ones. But, Hanks had it. And sometime it is only distinguishable in the blink of an eye. But, blinks can also backfire. President Warren Harding was a blink. The man so looked like a president he became one. Eventually he would be judged as one of our worst.
Blinks can also unmask prejudice. Before the book was written, Gladwell grew his hair long and watched in dramatic fashion as his life changed. Speeding tickets, getting singled out for security checks at airports -- that thin slice of instant judgment cut to the quick.
It's "Blink" by Malcom Gladwell.
Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many across the country.
By Harry Smith
Copyright 2005 CBS. All rights reserved.