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The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us Paperback – Jun 7 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (June 7 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307459667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307459664
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #83,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Packed with evidence from hundreds of scientific experiments, it's a persuasive, surprising and even amusing book that will have you rethinking the way you think you see the world ..."--Fort Worth Star Telegram

"Engaging and humane...THE INVISIBLE GORILLA just might teach us to be more humble, understanding and forgiving."—New York Times 

 "As a thoughtful introduction to a captivating discipline, the book succeeds wonderfully... readers who heed the admonitions of Chabris and Simons may be rewarded with a clearer view of the world."- Wall Street Journal

"Thought-provoking, entertaining, educational and sobering, this book is a must read for those honest enough to realize they don't or can't, know it all."—El Paso Times

"Though Chabris and Simons threaten to pull the rug of reality itself from under us, their fascinating experiments and well-chosen examples keep our feet on the ground, perhaps even more than before."- SEED Magazine 

"If the authors make you second-guess yourself 10 times today, they've done their job."—Psychology Today

"THE INVISIBLE GORILLA is a humbling journey into the fallibility of our thinking ... Chabris and Simons deliver a persuasive warning that intuition often fails us ... it should be required for anyone convinced of the truth of such intuitive beliefs as the accuracy of eyewitness accounts of important events, the cause-and-effect relationship between vaccinations and autism, and the role of Mozart's music in making babies smarter."--Minneapolis Star Tribune

"THE INVISIBLE GORILLA is filled with fascinating and revealing experiments that call into question assumptions we have about our mental abilities and those of others...a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand how the mind works."- Associated Press

"The illusion of attention is one of the most important, surprising, and least known flaws in human thinking. This lucid book examines it in detail." -- Nassim N. Taleb, author of THE BLACK SWAN

 "[An] engaging treatise on how our intuitions often lead us astray...Illustrated with eye-opening, often humorous examples." - Booklist
"A fascinating look at little-known illusions that greatly affect our daily lives…[THE INVISIBLE GORILLA] offers surprising insights into just how clueless we are about how our minds work and how we experience the world."--Kirkus Reviews

"Full of humor and insight, this book is enlightening and entertaining ... Readers beware: your perception of everyday occurrences will be forever altered."--Library Journal 
"Entertaining and illuminating ... We all have incredible confidence in the accuracy of our senses, and the tales they tell us about the world we live in. Through clever experiments and captivating stories, THE INVISIBLE GORILLA shows that our confidence is misplaced.  This book is a surprising guide to everyday illusions and the trouble they can steer us into."--Dan Ariely, New York Times bestselling author of PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL
"From courtrooms to bedrooms to boardrooms, this fascinating book shows how psychological illusions bedevil every aspect of our public and private lives. An owner's manual for the human mind!"--Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and New York Times bestselling author of STUMBLING ON HAPPINESS 
“Chabris and Simons’ experiments have become classics, and their influence extends well beyond psychology, with implications for our understanding of consciousness and rationality. Having taught their research to my students at Harvard, I was eager to read THE INVISIBLE GORILLA, and the book did not disappoint."--Steven Pinker, author of HOW THE MIND WORKS and THE STUFF OF THOUGHT
“A riveting romp across the landscape of our psychological misperceptions.  Read this amazing book, but not while you are doing anything else.  It will change the way you see the world, and yourself.  With vivid examples, sneaky experiments, and everyday experiences, Chabris and Simons convincingly show not only that our minds play tricks on us, but also, more important, that we are -- at our own peril -- programmed to resist recognizing our own blindness.  In THE INVISIBLE GORILLA, you should expect the unexpected, to your very great delight.  If any work of social science could be a page-turner, this is it.”--Nicholas A. Christakis, Professor, Harvard Medical School, and co-author of CONNECTED: THE SURPRISING POWER OF OUR SOCIAL NETWORKS AND HOW THEY SHAPE OUR LIVES
"Too often thinking is depicted in its extremes as the triumph or travesty of intuition. Chabris and Simons present a uniquely nuanced understanding of the power and pitfalls of perception, thought, and memory. This book will delight all who seek depth and insight into the wonder and complexities of cognition."-- Jerome Groopman, M.D., Recanati Professor, Harvard Medical School, and author of HOW DOCTORS THINK
"A breathtaking and insightful journey through the illusions that influence every moment of our lives.”--Richard Wiseman, author of QUIRKOLOGY: HOW WE DISCOVER THE BIG TRUTHS IN SMALL THINGS
"An eye-opening book. After reading THE INVISIBLE GORILLA you will look at yourself -- and the world around you -- differently. Like its authors, the book is both funny and smart, filled with insights into the everyday illusions that we all walk around with. No matter what your job is or what you do in life, you will learn something from this book."--Joseph T. Hallinan, Pulitizer Prize winning author of WHY WE MAKE MISTAKES
“Everyday illusions trick us into thinking that we see –and know more -- than we really do, and that we can predict the future when we can’t. THE INVISIBLE GORILLA teaches us exactly why, and it does so in an incredibly engaging way.  Chabris and Simons provide terrific tips on how to cast off our illusions and get things right. Whether you’re a driver wanting to steer clear of oncoming motorcycles, a radiologist hoping to spot every tumor, or just an average person curious about how your mind really works, this is a must-read.”-- Elizabeth Loftus,  Ph.D, Distinguished Professor, University of California–Irvine, and author of MEMORY and EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY
"Cognitive scientists Chris Chabris and Dan Simons deliver an entertaining tour of the many ways our brains mislead us every day. THE INVISIBLE GORILLA is engaging, accurate, and packed with real-world examples -- some of which made me laugh out loud. Read it to find out why weathermen might make good money managers, and what Homer Simpson can teach you about thinking clearly."--Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., co-author of WELCOME TO YOUR BRAIN and former Editor, Nature Neuroscience
"THE INVISIBLE GORILLA is not just witty and engaging but also insightful. The authors offer a fascinating set of examples that show how poorly we understand the limitations of our own minds in business, medicine, law enforcement, journalism--and everyday life. Reading this book won't cure you of all these limitations, but it will at least help you recognize and compensate for them."
--Thomas W. Malone, author of THE FUTURE OF WORK and Founder of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
"In the long history of psychology a handful of experiments stand out as epochal in their impact on our understanding of human behavior—Milgram's obedience to authority shock experiments, Zimbardo's role playing prison experiment, Asch's conformity experiments, and Harlow's baby monkey experiments. In that league is the now-famous "gorilla" experiment by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, demonstrating how blind we all are to objects clearly in our midst, and especially how unreliable eyewitness testimony is in any criminal investigation (or any other walk of life). THE INVISIBLE GORILLA should be required reading by every judge and jury member in our criminal justice system, along with every battlefield commander, corporate CEO, member of Congress, and, well, you and I...because the mental illusions so wonderfully explicated in this book can fool every one of us."--Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and the author of WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS
“It isn't often you come across a book that is rigorous but also witty, one that is sound science but also relevant to everyday life -- but here it is! Clever, illuminating, by turns shocking and delightful, this book, if you take it to heart, will change a lot of your bad habits and could even save your life."--Margaret Heffernan, CEO and author of WOMEN ON TOP
“Wonderfully refreshing…THE INVISIBLE GORILLA makes us smarter by reminding us how little we know. Through a lively tour of the brain's blind spots, this book will change the way you drive your car, hire your employees and invest your money.”
--Amanda Ripley, Senior Writer for Time magazine and author of THE UNTHINKABLE

From the Hardcover edition.

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.

Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Not sure what book the previous reviewer read but this book has plenty of empirical evidence, is well-documented and does comment on the value of intuition in several places. It is not a scholarly publication but it doesn't pretend to be. It was written for the masses. All the studies cited can be researched if you feel the need to verify the results. Of greater interest, was the ability of the authors to explain the meaning of those results. The book is well-written and logicially organized. What impressed me the most was the authors' ability to consistently anticipate objections that occurred to me and address them in the next section or paragraph. A lot of thought went into this book and I think it had the intended effect of making me more conscious of what I do not see and better able to acknowledge the phenomenon in others.
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Format: Hardcover
There seems to be a general formula for popular psychology books: 1) present an interesting and unbelievable anecdote 2) rationalize the anecdote using both expert opinions and data from scientific experiments that range from the banal to the fascinating. Perhaps I've read too much Malcolm Gladwell and William Poundstone to find The Invisible Gorilla ground-breaking but the book does illuminate false assumptions that are worthy of attention. Authors Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons explain six illusions that have significant impact on human life: attention, that we think we see far more than we actually do; memory, that it changes over time and is much less reliable than we realize; knowledge, that we equate it to familiarity though the two differ significantly; confidence, that we generally believe we're more skilled than we are; causation, that one event directly leads to another especially if the two are chronologically distinct; and potential, that certain mythical processes can unleash latent powers of the brain. What makes this book unique is that it focuses not on societal trends but on the responsibility of the individual. The authors do not dilute their scientific reasoning; rather, they write in a compelling fashion and allow their readers to think complexly. And their conclusion provides an encouraging send off: relying more on fact than on illusion translates into a society with less condescension, less danger and more cooperation.
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Format: Hardcover
Note: For those who have not as yet seen the brief video that demonstrates a selective attention test, I suggest that they do so now by visiting [...]

I agree with Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons that just because we vividly experience some aspects of our world, especially those that are the focus of our attention, that does not mean that we process all of the detailed information around us. "In essence, we know how vividly we see some aspects of our world, but we are completely unaware of those aspects of our world that fall outside of that current focus of attention. Our vivid visual experience masks a striking mental blindness - we assume that visually distinctive or unusual objects will draw our attention, but in reality they go completely unnoticed."

Vast amounts of scientific research reveal these redundantly verifiable insights:

1. Because we have limited attention resources, we usually see only what we expect to see; more often than not, we fail to see what we do not expect to see.

2. "Our neurological circuits for vision and attention are built for pedestrian speeds, not for driving speeds."

3. We often have an illusion of memory: "the disconnect between how we think memory works and how it actually works." That is, we tend to remember only what we expect to remember.

4. We often have an illusion of confidence. This causes us to overestimate our abilities, especially in relation to others; also, we tend to assume that people who seem confident are, and those who seem to lack confidence lack it.

5. Many of us have the illusion of knowledge: we believe we have wider and deeper understanding than in fact we do. Therefore, poor decisions are often made because we do not know what we think we know.

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Format: Paperback
'The Invisible Gorilla' begins with a description of the experiment run by the authors where observers were asked to watch a basketball being passed amongst a group of people. Meanwhile a 'gorilla' sneaks into the scene to beat his chest and then leave. Many of the observers failed to see the monkey. This is just one of a number of books published recently that explore the fallibility of the brain. It just doesn't work the way we think it does. Like the invisible gorillas experiment, stuff can happen right in front of our eyes and we may not see it. We may also believe we remember events as they happen but we don't. Even important events that we're sure we remembered correctly, we don't. For this reason, we need to beware of confidence because confidence is not the same as reliability. A doctor who exudes confidence is no more likely to be right in his diagnosis than one who is hesitant. In fact, the authors' caution against the confident doctor because he or she is more liable to make a quick, confident diagnosis that is wrong than the more hesitant, thoughtful or contemplative doctor. Nevertheless, people love confidence. For this reason, groups may be no more right in their decision-making than individuals because members of the group tend to listen to the person who's most confident who is also, very often the most likely to be wrong. The brain also works in a manner that makes us susceptible to illusions. The illusion of cause is defined as our tendency to associate cause and effect as defined by sequence in time. Some parents are no longer inoculating their children for measles because they've mistakenly associated autism with the measles, mumps and rubella shot.Read more ›
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