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The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us
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The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  7,130 ratings  ·  438 reviews
Reading this book will make you less sure of yourself—and that’s a good thing. In The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, creators of one of psychology’s most famous experiments, use remarkable stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate an important truth: Our minds don’t work the way we think they do. We think we see ourselves an ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Harmony (first published 2010)
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Petra
Instead of writing a full review, I'd like to take up some issues with the low-star reviews, which seem to have strong patterns to them that should be adressed. As a disclaimer - I am merely a reader of this book, not a psychological scientist, and I do think negative reviews have their place for ANYTHING that is meant for an audience. And they are important because when reading reviews, you want to know whether the product is something *you* would like to have and may share some of your interes ...more
Doug
This is a mostly fascinating book which discusses the differences between how we imagine that our minds/brains work and how really do. The authors are the psychologists who did the experiment a decade ago using a movie of two teams of people passing basketballs back & forth between them. They asked people to watch the film and count the number of passes between members of the team in white tee-shirts. Then they asked the watchers if they noticed anything unusual about the film. About half th ...more
Julie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
drowningmermaid
There are some pretty major flaws in the experiments he lists as "proof" of his points.


-Deciding whether a person has a "good" or "bad" sense of humor-- based on whether their ratings of jokes correlates with 30 professional comedians? Seriously? Isn't it obvious that the people who score "poorly" are just the kind of people who don't go to comedy clubs, or find the dumb jokes on TV funny?

-There ARE a variety of ways a chess player can be underscored in the ratings. (Although, it is true that 10
...more
Emily
I finished this book much more aware of how limited my mental abilities are. And that's a good thing. As Chabris and Simons state in the conclusion, these mental illusions "result from mistaken judgments about our limitations." If we are willing to acknowledge and accept those limitations we are that much more aware of the illusions and better able to see through them.

Chabris and Simons discuss several commonplace, everyday illusions which the vast majority of us are not only unaware of, but act
...more
Bruce
Clear headed look at a number of flaws in the human brain's wiring. "Flaw" is clearly a loaded term - more specifically, in the context of modern society, the human brain gets a number of things (objectively) wrong. For those with a lot of familiarity with similar literature, there isn't a whole lot new here. Another problem is that the book bogs down with lengthy discussion of specific issues (e.g. the science pertaining to vaccinations, the effect of video games on cognitive ability, specific ...more
Vasil Kolev
(I'll probably need to re-read it in a few months)

The book deals with the basics of some of our mental processes and their deficiencies. It describes the most common ones:

The illusion of vision/attention - that we can and see everything we set our eyes on (which is the one shown by the gorilla video and the one that got them the Ig Nobel award);

The illusion of memory - we think that our long-term memories don't change (and they do);

Confidence - we tend to value confidence a lot more than it's wo
...more
Jessi
This book looks at the things we think we know, but really don't. There are Illusions of Attention, Memory, Confidence, Knowledge, and Potential. Each of the illusions is examined, with examples shown of the differences between what we think happens and what really happens.
Attention-Everyone believes that we see everything that happens in the world around us. This is where the famous Invisible Gorilla video comes into play. Check it out. This is just one example of selective attention. We only
...more
David
Because I was already familiar with the hidden gorilla experiment demonstrating inattentional blindness, I initially assumed this book would be a rehash. But it delivered a more detailed study of the illusion of attention and six other illusions, and turned out to be an informative source of information on hidden human behavioral patterns. This are:

(1) Illusion of Attention—although we think we see what’s in front of us, focus and expectation leads us to often miss the unexpected, even when it i
...more
Heather
The authors conducted a experiment a while to see how many people would see something right in from of them while focused on another task. People were asked to watch a video. They were instructed to count the number of passes of a basketball between a few people. After the video they asked them how many passes they counted and if they had seen anything strange while watching the video. About half said they had not. But a person in a gorilla's costume passed through the screen and pounded its che ...more
Richard Williams
illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause, potential. excellent well organized, informative, important book.

each chapter is an illusion caused by our mental structures, like optical illusions effect our perception, a must read for anyone interested in clearer thinking, which ought to be everyone.

each chapter presents an illusion, like the gorilla in the basketball passings video. presents the illusion, then using experimental results and interesting examples shows us what the
...more
David Everling
A book on the psychology of intuition and perception. Thematically similar to "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell, but their conclusions don't often agree.

While The Invisible Gorilla has plenty of informative passages, thoroughly evaluating contemporary psychology myths in each part, the book's necessarily negative overtone (subtitled "And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us") makes it somewhat dissatisfying as a whole despite valid insights. The book has to be cynical because its unique angle is in it
...more
Stephen
So...this book got published because it's by a pair of celebrity scientists (not to say that that affects their other work, but I think it effected the book).

The problem that I see with it, generally, is that they have a very interesting set of experiments about what they call attentional blindness and the illusion of attention. I.e. the reason that a bunch of people didn't notice a gorilla (well, someone in a gorilla suit) walk through a crowd of students passing around basketballs, and why peo
...more
Michelle
This is an awesome book. I loved the part about the illusion of memory, I loved the part where they warned about correlation becoming causation, and I loved the part about the gorilla experiment. The authors tried to stay neutral on issues like religion in this book, but lots of what was said in this book reminds me of Caveman Logic.

Awesome quote:
"Parents and scientists seeking a cause for the increase in autism rates spotted this association [between vaccinations and autism:] and inferred a ca
...more
Jeremy
A good read for a plane ride. It puts together several "illusions" that are all related to how our brain works. The authors assemble a mountain of academic research in their field, psychology, and several related ones, and package them into compact, wonderfully written chapters. There are deep insights every couple pages. What is admirable throughout is their rigorous commitment to the scientific method, to questioning their own conclusions, and to limiting and qualifying most of their results. ...more
Terri
I wanted to like this book; it's right up my alley. I love Gladwell, I love Sheena Iyengar, etc. But I could not finish this book - I had to give up after four tries. The authors present a premise, give an interesting anecdote or research that proves the point, and then proceed to beat the reader over the head with a long-winded narrative to prove the point they already proved. Even worse, the additional narrative usually ends up weakening their argument or even disproving the point/premise! On ...more
Clark Hays
Don’t trust anyone, especially yourself!

This book is a quick read about a topic that should interest us all: how notoriously inept we humans are at using the one thing that sets us apart from other animals — our brains. Written by the creators of a classic experiment in which subjects focused on a task (counting basketball passes) fail to see a person in a gorilla suit walk on screen (hence the name), it examines our mental shortcomings in glorious, disheartening detail.

As it turns out, we’re t
...more
Lee
Anyone who has read enough Discworld or Harry Potter books knows that we muggles are very good at ignoring what our brains tell us shouldn't be there.
ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴅᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʜɪɴᴋ, said Death. ᴀᴍ ɪ ʀᴇᴀʟʟʏ ʜᴇʀᴇ, ʙᴏʏ?
“Yes,” said Mort slowly. “I… I’ve watched people. They look at you but they don’t see you, I think. You do something to their minds.”
Death shook his head.
ᴛʜᴇʏ ᴅᴏ ɪᴛ ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴇᴍsᴇʟᴠᴇs, he said. ᴛʜᴇʀᴇ’s ɴᴏ ᴍᴀɢɪᴄ. ᴘᴇᴏᴘʟᴇ ᴄᴀɴ’ᴛ sᴇᴇ ᴍᴇ, ᴛʜᴇʏ sɪᴍᴘʟʏ ᴡᴏɴ’ᴛ ᴀʟʟᴏᴡ ᴛʜᴇᴍsᴇʟᴠᴇs ᴛᴏ ᴅᴏ ɪᴛ. ᴜɴᴛɪʟ ɪᴛ’s ᴛɪᴍᴇ, ᴏꜰ ᴄᴏᴜ
...more
Deb
* *

Do you think you would notice if a gorilla ran into a basketball game that you were diligently counting passes for? Think again!

As _The Invisible Gorilla_ reveals, we're all deluded by how capable we think our minds are. We've all been under the spell of believing that our brains' abilities and potentials are far greater than they actually are. The reality is that our minds don't work in the ways we think they do. Our "common sense" results in us intuitively accepting these six everyday illu
...more
Bob Nichols
The authors once conducted an experiment where people were asked to count basketballs while another person walked through their field of vision, unnoticed, dressed as a gorilla. The authors concluded that there was an illusion of attention ("inattentional blindness"). They expanded this notion to write this book about the illusions of memory, confidence, knowledge, causal relationships, and potential. Their lesson from all of this is that we need to be wary of our intuitions as they are poorly a ...more
Victoria Klein
Do you ever feel like your mind is playing tricks on you?

You’re not crazy – your instincts are deceiving you (those bastards).

My latest rental from the library, The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, provides a jaw-droppingly fascinating perspective into mental illusions that influence our every word, action, and thought.

Chabris & Simons, both established cognitive psychologists, are best known for their “Gorillas in Our Mids
...more
Mike Vardy
This book offers a lot of discussion and experimentation as to why our experiences are affected by our intuitions. It also offers a lot of acknowledgments to people and footnotes. This is all well and good, but the fact that it offers insight into how you can curb these illusions is the most gratifying conclusion you can expect.

While we can’t completely eliminate these illusions around us, we can “override” them by knowing that they are there — if only for brief moments. Chabris and Simons point
...more
Jamie
Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons spin out their widely known "invisible gorilla" experiment on inattentional blindness into an entire book, with each chapter exploring the psychology behind one of six everyday illusions.

This includes stuff like overconfidence, cause vs. correlation, errors in memories, and others. And as with most books in this vein, they mix newspaper headlines and anecdotes with scientific psychological research. What I probably appreciated most about the book was how the
...more
Sylvester
This book took me down a couple notches. According to Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, I miss a heckuva lot that's going on right in front of my nose, and come to conclusions based on my own state of mind rather than the facts. The book sets out to debunk 6 or so everyday illusions - attention, knowledge, memory,confidence, cause, and potential. In the process it takes down a lot of commonly held beliefs (eg. doing crossword puzzles increases your brain power for other areas of life, or th ...more
Kate Woods Walker
There's a decent-enough structure behind this book--six mental bugaboos to avoid--but the authors' obvious right-wing biases weakened their presentation.

It's true enough (as this book notes) that correlation does not equal causation, but sometimes correlation can point the way to a workable hypothesis.

So here are a few things I noticed about this book. People and things who received positive spin in The Invisible Gorilla: George W. Bush, Chief Justice John Roberts, Jim Cramer, the Iraq War. Peop
...more
Void lon iXaarii
A surprisingly good book about the flaws in our ways of thinking, seeing and the way we think about the way we think. The research and information is quite shocking and more than interesting, and i particularly liked how it even stated out some problems I had for a while seen with a number of the popular business books, especially in these days when it's so fashionable to praise an intuitive leader over a rational one. Warmly recommending it to anybody who wants to improve their thinking/seeing/ ...more
Chris Wood
Captivating topic, perfect examples & study dives, and excellent delivery – The Invisible Gorilla had my attention on page one and maintained it while Chabris & Simpons challenged my perception on how our minds capture & recall memories.

Right at the onset of an event, it’s remarkable how some artifacts one would assume to be obvious may be completely oblivious & never recorded. How we fill in the blanks (such as assuming a bookshelf was full of books), or don’t capture elements
...more
T. Edmund
The Invisible Gorilla discusses six cognitive illusions that plague the human mind and how these illusions affect individuals and society.

While at times the authors perhaps try to put too much on each illusion, or stretch the chapter to cover more than the original bias, this book is very much based on legit, well researched psychology (without becoming inaccessible.)

As mentioned this book is very much my area of interest, but I think that anyone interested in psychology, improving themselves, a
...more
Amanda Mitchell
We’re all so attracted to surety—it was refreshing to learn how wrong—and actually how downright dangerous—such surety could be. This book provided a good reminder that our expectations drive much of our perceptions in life—and taking a few moments to consider that we could, in fact, be wrong is time well spent.

The book examines the science behind six illusions that influence how we believe and behave: the illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause, and potential. The title ref
...more
Steve Li
This book is named after the now famous 'invisible gorilla' video where you get so focussed on a video that you miss a person in a gorilla suit walking slowly through the scene (even stops and waves to you!) This has been followed by another video you know a gorilla is going to appear but miss other changes happening right before your eyes. We are often completely blind to things that we are not expecting - like a person in a gorilla suit walking in the middle of a video..did you know in a court ...more
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“Unlike the rankings published for most sports, the chess rating system is extremely accurate; for practical purposes, your rating is a nearly perfect indicator of your ability.” 0 likes
“Your moment-to-moment expectations, more than the visual distinctiveness of the object, determine what you see—and what you miss.” 0 likes
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