The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

by Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons
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The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 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
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