The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us

The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us

by Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307459664
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 06/07/2011
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 98,308
Product dimensions: 5.08(w) x 7.96(h) x 0.72(d)

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER CHABRIS and DANIEL SIMONS are cognitive psychologists who have each received accolades for their research on a wide range of topics. Their “Gorillas in Our Midst” study reveals the dark side of our ability to pay attention and has quickly become one of the best-known experiments in all of psychology; it inspired a stage play and was even discussed by characters on C.S.I. Chabris, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard, is a psychology professor at Union College in New York. Simons, who received his Ph.D. from Cornell, is a psychology professor at the University of Illinois.


From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Everyday Illusions xi

1 "I Think I Would Have Seen That" 1

2 The Coach Who Choked 43

3 What Smart Chess Players and Stupid Criminals Have in Common 80

4 Should You Be More Like a Weather Forecaster or a Hedge Fund Manager? 116

5 Jumping to Conclusions 150

6 Get Smart Quick! 185

Conclusion: The Myth of Intuition 224

Acknowledgments 243

Notes 247

Index 291

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The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
AngieMarie More than 1 year ago
I have been exposed to the famous psych experiment that gave this book its name several times and continue to be amazed at subjects' failure to see a huge gorilla walk through two teams of ball players. As a result I was immediately attracted to a book written by the psychologists who devised an experiment that was at the same time funny and yet insightful. Anyone who could devise such a clever experiment, I reasoned, can probably write a clever book. I wasn't wrong. As the subtitle says, this book is about illusions, the many ways our brains can deceive us. The authors discuss six common illusions, devoting a chapter to each: illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause, and potential. The illusion of attention involves our failure to notice other events in the environment when we are concentrating on one specific thing. The illusion of memory involves the distortion and embellishment that affect our memories, especially for events that have a high emotional impact. The illusion of confidence makes us tend to overrate our own abilities and also to interpret another person's confidence as a sign of ability. The illusion of knowledge involves implicitly believing you know more than you actually do. The illusion of cause refers to our inclination to find causal relationships where none exist and arises from the human inclination to find meaning in patterns, to infer causal relationships from coincidences, and to infer that earlier events cause later ones. Finally, the illusion of potential describes the effects of the widespread belief that the human mind has unlimited potential and that we use only a small part of our capacity. (This last "illusion", while interesting and valid, seemed to me to be a different kind of animal from the other illusions, and not quite to fit in the book.) Each illusion is illustrated by relevant examples, some funny and some tragic, including the fear that vaccination causes autism, an incident where a group of police officers seriously beat up a fellow officer because they mistook him for a suspect who they believed had shot another policeman, a false memory of a dinner with actor Patrick Stewart, and, of course, the gorilla experiment. There is some discussion of why these illusions exist, generally an evolutionary explanation. I personally would have liked to see more of the cognitive or brain science behind the illusions, and I am sure the authors would have loved to include it, but they cannot write about what is not yet known, so I will not fault them for the omissions. This is not a self-help book that gives the "magic key" to avoiding illusions, and the authors admit that they themselves can fall prey to illusory thinking, but they believe that knowing about the mental traps can help us to identify them in ourselves and others. In the last chapter, like good professors everywhere, the authors test the readers' mastery of the material with a delightful parody of a CEO profile of the sort found in Sunday newspapers or business magazines. The reader is asked to identify the illusions contained in the profile. I know I did better at the end of the book than I would have before I read it. I learned some things and raised my awareness. I believe you will, too, and recommend it to anyone interested in how our minds work and how we might make them work just a bit better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its awesome
GShuk on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Excellent book that points out six glaring blind spots we have when we perceive the world. Unlike the blind spot of a car that we are aware of most people are not aware of these ones. You may not be quite as confident about some of yours and others decisions after reading this book. They go over six illusions two that really surprised me 1) we believe we pay attention to more than we actually do 2) our vivid memories are not as rock solid as we believe. If you don¿t have time to read the book first go to their website and take the basketball test then read some of the detailed summaries on the web.
dulcibelle on LibraryThing 25 days ago
This is an interesting book about the ways our illusions and beliefs can play tricks on us. The title comes from a psychology study where people were asked to watch a basketball game and count the passes made by one team. Test subjects watched and counted for one minute. At least half of them never noticed the person in the gorilla suit who walks across the court. However, common belief is that everyone should have seen the gorilla because it was right in front of them.Other illusions the book addresses are the illusion of memory (that a strong, clear memory must be a true one), the illusion of confidence (that someone who shows confidence must be the best person for the task), and a few more.The book is quite readable, not at all dry or textbookish. Recommended for anyone who is interested in how the mind works.
SwitchKnitter on LibraryThing 25 days ago
As a psychology major, I already knew some of the things in this book. What made it a great read was all the studies I'd never heard about and the real-world examples of the various "everyday illusions." The book definitely made me see some of the things I do that are cognitive illusions, and I think I'll have an easier time avoiding those things now. I also liked reading the evolutionary psych theories for some of the illusions.One thing I've got to share -- there's a section where stupid criminals are discussed in relation to the illusion of confidence (which is where people are overconfident about things they're not skilled in). You know how writing with lemon juice makes the words invisible until the page is heated? Well, there was a guy who robbed a bank without a mask on because he thought the lemon juice he'd applied to his face would make his features invisible. Hilarious. The book is full of weird little funny things like that, as well as more serious real-world examples of illusions.I really enjoyed this book. I definitely recommend it.
thewalkinggirl on LibraryThing 25 days ago
Basically, question: how much you're actually paying attention to your surroundings, how accurate your memories really are, how much your confidence in your abilities really reflects your actual abilities, how much you really know about what you think you know (do you know how a bicycle works? explain it), whether two things happening in sequence are a indication of correlation instead of causation, and whether learning a particular task affects your abilities in other areas (does doing a crossword puzzle really make you smarter or does it make you better at doing crossword puzzles?).Then, question how much other people are really paying attention to their surroundings, how accurate their memories are, how well their confidence matches up with their actual expertise, how well they really understand what they say they understand, and whether doing crossword puzzles made them really smart or do some people just like doing crossword puzzles.Some people found the message of this book to be cynical. Honestly, I found it kind of hopeful. Yes, it reminds me to be more attentive to my surroundings and not take what people say at face value, but it also reminds me to be more compassionate to others as they struggle to navigate through the very difficult task of discerning truth from illusion.I don't think I've ever re-read a popular science book before, but I think I'm going to want to re-read this one in another year or two. While it's written in a very readable way, there are a lot of big ideas in this fairly short book.
bookworx on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A subject that is bound to be synthesized and augmented, 'objectivity is not an art'. Reasonable rigorous and digestible, takes on Gladwellian logic but lacks Malcom's narrative flair. To see them team up would be interesting. Looooved it (typo on page 10)
wvlibrarydude on LibraryThing 25 days ago
A much better look at how our minds work, and the illusions we have regarding perception, memory, confidence, knowledge, causal relationships, and the unhidden potential of the mind. I highly advise reading this book.
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