Jeremy's Reviews > The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris
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's review
Jul 11, 2011

really liked it
Read in July, 2011

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. Even so, you find yourself taking away important insights into how your brain, and your society, work. Example--we don't notice changes we aren't looking for. We all THINK we would, but data shows we don't. This has micro and macro applications. At the macro level, I wanted to apply it to politics. People who aren't paying attention won't notice radical changes in a political party they are familiar with. I also enjoyed the illusion that our brains had undeveloped potential that could be easily tapped. The authors show you how baloney those claims are, mostly made by hucksters, assisted by less ethical members of the academic community. The "listen to Mozart" and get smarter one is so well debunked, it's fun to read as they take down various frauds and delusions that resulted from the single article (that they also debunk). This is a fine example of popularizing a whole set of academic findings, and while you think every now and then that the "illusions" frame that they use becomes forced, it always rebounds and convinces you otherwise. Maybe it's an illusion, but a good one!
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