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The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us Paperback – June 7, 2011
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Tom Vanderbilt writes on design, technology, architecture, science, and many other topics. He is author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) published in 2008 by Alfred A. Knopf, and Survival City: Adventures Among the Ruins of Atomic America, published in 2002 by Princeton Architectural Press. He is contributing editor to I.D. and Print magazines, contributing writer at Design Observer, and writes for many publications, ranging from Wired to the New York Times to Men's Vogue to the Wilson Quarterly. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Do you remember when you first saw--or more likely, didn’t see--the gorilla? For me it was one afternoon a number of years ago when I clicked open one of those noxious-but-irresistible forwarded emails ("You Won’t Believe Your Eyes!"). The task was simple--count the number of passes in a tight cluster of basketball players--but the ensuing result was astonishing: As I dutifully (and correctly) tracked the number of passes made, a guy in a gorilla suit had strolled into the center, beat his chest, and sauntered off. But I never saw the gorilla. And I was hardly alone.
The video, which went on to become a global viral sensation, brought "inattentional blindness"--a once comparatively obscure interest of cognitive psychologists--into striking relief. Here was a dramatic reminder that looking is not necessarily seeing, that “paying” attention to one thing might come at the cost of missing another altogether. No one was more taken with the experience than the authors of the original study, Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris, as they recount in their new--and, dare I say, eye-opening--book, The Invisible Gorilla. "The fact that people miss things is important," they write, "but what impressed us even more was the surprise people showed when they realized what they had missed."
The Invisible Gorilla uses that ersatz primate as a departure point (and overarching metaphor) for exploring the myriad of other illusions, perceptual or otherwise, that we encounter in everyday life--and our often complete lack of awareness as we do so. These "gorillas" are lurking everywhere--from the (often false) memories we think we have to the futures we think we can anticipate to the cause-and-effect chains we feel must exist. Writing with authority, clarity, and a healthy dose of skepticism, Simons and Chabris explore why these illusions persist--and, indeed, seem to multiply in the modern world--and how we might work to avoid them. Alas, there are no easy solutions--doing crosswords to stave off cognitive decline in one’s dotage may simply make you better at doing crosswords. But looking for those "gorillas in our midst" is as rewarding as actually finding them.(Photo © Kate Burton)
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most think that such a gorilla would be easily noticed; however, various experiments have shown this is not the case. This lack of ability to see objects that are not expected may explain why cars pull out in front of motorcycles, as it is theorized that people driving cars do not expect to see motorcycles and thus they do not. Cell phone users also miss obvious objects while they are driving. It seems cell phone users that are driving suffer from a reduction in awareness, but they are not aware of it. Thus the illusion that they are as fully aware while talking on the phone as they are when the phone is not in use. The Invisible Gorilla points out how this attention illusion can have real and sometimes harsh results in the real world.
Then the book goes on to describe five other illusions: the illusion of memory, the illusion of knowledge and confidence, the illusion that in a series of events, event one causes event two, and the illusion that certain mythical processes - such as hypnotism - can help one reach their full potential.Read more ›
These two authors are the inventors of that and subsequent experiments. In other words, these authors are very knowledgeable about their field because, in a sense, they invented one of its primary experiments.
What is their focus in this book? Well, it is not so much that people didn't notice the "invisible gorilla" that surprised them, but the adamance with which participants denied that they could have missed something so obvious. Many disbelieved that there was actually a gorilla in the tape they were shown, accusing he researchers of playing a trick on them. So, the authors' mission in this book is to explore the human tendency toward overconfidence in their abilities.
Each chapter focuses on a different "illusion" that comes from the human tendency to (very subconsciously) overestimate our ability. They are as follows:
Chapter 1 - Illusion of Attention, or, the belief that we are attentive to much more than we actually are at any given moment.
Chapter 2 - Illusion of Memory, or, the illusion that our memories are much more exact than they are.
Chapter 3 - Illusion of Confidence, or, the illusion that confidence (in others) is a good sign of competence.Read more ›
The Invisible Gorilla presents a lot of illuminating information that is well worth reading - it's both interesting and enlightening. I guess popular psychology books are expected to propose a solution to the problems they outline, so the final chapter offers somewhat less compelling suggestions for avoiding your brain's false intuitions. While on the one hand I was glad to discover that I'm a normal human, not an inattentive dummy (which is what I feel like when I'm driving, and I don't even own a cell phone!), on the other I was sorry to learn that there's not a whole lot of hope for change, barring a life of hyper-vigilance.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
be aware. great book, will be an epiphany for many who have been fooling themselves their whole lives. Authors are great chaps, and are happy to respond to sensible inquiries.Published 5 days ago by Derek Graham
Bought for my teenage daughter for school project... she said it was boring.Published 9 days ago by SynthesizersRock
I picked up this book because of the Invisible Gorilla experiment (I won't spoil it for you, look it up!). From the beginning on this book, I was glued to the pages. Read morePublished 1 month ago by N.J. Terry
Wonderfully easy and fun read.
Just the right amount of technical talk mixed with real world stories. Some good fun. Some very unfortunate and one heart breaking. Read more
This excellent book is illustrated with anecdotes which give wonderful background information. Any safety official or person concerned with public safety or personal safety would... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Jayeson Vance