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The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  13,446 ratings  ·  694 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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 18th 2010 by Harmony
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Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very easy to read, funny yet interesting book. It follows in the line of books that tell us how and why of things, but based on scientific data.

This one delves into the difference between reality and perception and how taking our own perception for truth (or believing in other`s for that matter) can catapult us so far away from it. The interesting thing is that (and there are many examples of this in the book); our brains are wired that way, which makes it even harder to abide by scie
Sep 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

Fantastic thoughtful book. I think EVERYONE needs to read this, just to remind us that, hey, everybody's got limitations.

Jenny McCarthy, if by some odd chance, you are reading this, I have one thing for you: SHUT UP. Shame on you for deceiving parents into not vaccinating their kids because they MAY get autism - which ISN'T TRUE IN THE SLIGHTEST ANYWAY, but really, autism is WORSE THAN A DEAD CHILD??!?! Do us a favor and go away - after loudly proclaiming what a moron you were for
Sep 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 the su ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've not yet gotten around to reading any of the other psychology books that I've recommended to you yet, consider this one. It's fun, and light, but still pretty good science. The authors do have agendas and so do, sometimes, oversimplify a bit to make a point, but as best as I can tell their points are valid.

Not all are new points. For example they talk about the phenomenon of 'group-think' as if it's something scientists are just figuring out now. Otoh, maybe this time the points will si
Jun 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
i think this is a must read. i had started questioning the way things are even before finding this book but when i did and when i started reading it showed me in how many ways human knowledge is limited, so i think this is one of the books that literally made me a better person.
it's a must read for everyone.
Jan 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Stewart Tame
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
A highly interesting book! The title refers to the well-known online video in which viewers are urged to count the number of passes made by one basketball team. At one point in the video, a person in a gorilla costume walks through the scene, but many viewers are so busy tracking passes that they don't notice. This book is about some of the hidden biases in the way our brains cope with the world. At least some of these will probably shock many readers. While it's probably impossible to eliminate ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is nonfiction and it falls into the psychology genre. I found this one interesting. He used the study where many observers of one group could NOT see the chest thumping gorilla right in front of them. The brain is so remarkable in doing the task that is at hand that it can sometimes filter out the obvious.

I listened to the audio and not once did this feel like a high school science class. So woohoo for that. I liked this. It gave me something to think about, so 4 stars.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
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
Bob Nichols
Aug 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Kate Woods Walker
Feb 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
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. Pe
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Arguably a popular classic in its time - the title derives from one of the most familiar and widely-discussed experiments of the modern era, my experience is that it merits the hype and is well worth the (not terribly great investment of) time.

As non-fiction accessible psychology goes, this goes down easy, entertains throughout, sprinkles the serious (almost hard core) academic stuff (particularly the critique and methodology) with splendid, memorable anecdotes, and provides more than your mone
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nf-science
Interesting book about about six illusions that influence our lives: the illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause, and potential. These illusions sway our perceptions and decisions everyday, slipping under the radar of our awareness.

Some of the fallacies and debunked widespread myths exposed by this book:

• believing the testimony of a confident eye witness (even highly vivid memories can be unreliable)
• driving while using a hands free phone is fine (not true, highly dange
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To their credit, Chabris and Simons are IG Nobel Prize winners and this book is highly recommended by academics. Since the focus of this book is cognitive psychology and its applications in daily life, I couldn’t help but contrast and compare it with Thinking Fast & Slow.

Invisible Gorilla explains the six illusions that plague us, which involve illusions of
• Attention: Our moment-to-moment expectations, more than the visual distinctiveness of the object, determine what we see and what we miss.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jun 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Richard Williams
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
David “Skip” 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
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Josh Sammer
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was interesting, but I found it repetitive. I think if I had read each of its chapters as a stand alone article while I was in college they would have all been engrossing and fascinating in some way. However, in book form each chapter/example/twist on the shortcomings of intuition was too similar to the one before, merely a slightly different way to continually hammer home the larger premise. I listened to this in audiobook form, and I knew it lost me when I started listening to pass t ...more
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
I was so close to giving this book a 5 star.
I learned so many things and it made me question my knowledge on certain topics, it definitely puts things into perspective. However I found the book contradictory at times and repetitive. It was very well written and full of case studies that proved the main point of each chapter. I will definitely come back to it a few years later.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Invisible Gorilla 1 2 Sep 30, 2012 02:07PM  

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