The Invisible Gorilla

  • by Christopher Chabris, Daniel Simons
  • Narrated by Dan Woren
  • 9 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 and the world as they really are, but we're actually missing a whole lot.
Chabris and Simons combine the work of other researchers with their own findings on attention, perception, memory, and reasoning to reveal how faulty intuitions often get us into trouble. In the process, they explain:


Why a company would spend billions to launch a product that its own analysts know will fail
How a police officer could run right past a brutal assault without seeing it
Why award-winning movies are full of editing mistakes
What criminals have in common with chess masters
Why measles and other childhood diseases are making a comeback
Why money managers could learn a lot from weather forecasters
The Invisible Gorilla reveals the myriad ways that our intuitions can deceive us, but its much more than a catalog of human failings. Chabris and Simons explain why we succumb to these everyday illusions and what we can do to inoculate ourselves against their effects. Ultimately, the book provides a kind of x-ray vision into our own minds, making it possible to pierce the veil of illusions that clouds our thoughts and to think clearly for perhaps the first time.

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What the Critics Say

"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 best-selling author of Stumbling Upon Happiness)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great Overview over Hygiene of Perception

The authors of this book are master teachers. The clarity of their presentation is excellent. Like school, though, this comes at times at the cost of being a little bit longish. This is especially so, since, if you are interested in this subject at all or merely in touch with popular knowledge, you will know most of the 'surprising' studies already. I did find, though, that in many cases, they would offer that extra bit of interesting information, debunk or logic to a finding that made it more complete. (In written form this would be even more useful, as one would be able to look these things up later on.)
The book is scientifically rigorous and doesn't fear naming 'transgressions' against good thinking by Malcolm Gladwell and others. Still, the authors manage to not come across as entirely negative geeks and offer some useful conclusions. Nonetheless, this work is not inspirational in any classic sense of the word.
Consider it an overview or a high quality review of perceptive follies and you will be very satisfied. The quality of the reading is excellent.
Originality: 7
Clarity: 10
Reading: 9.9
Usefulness: 8.5
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- Joseph

What Gorillas Are We Missing?

This is the famous invisible gorilla experiment, familiar to anyone who has been reading the growing body of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics books about the (predictable) limits of our brains.

The sad fact is that none of us are as smart, rationale, analytical, or emotionally balanced as we perceive ourselves to be (unless we are clinically depressed, the only people who can accurately judge their own looks, performance, or status). We better face up to the fact that we miss more than we ever recognize (the gorilla experiment), and we forget more than we remember (and when we remember we tend to re-write those memories to make us the stars of the action).

We over-value what we have (loss aversion), and are slow to give up existing beliefs (even in the face of overwhelming evidence). We fail to listen to arguments that don't conform to what we already believe (confirmation bias), and give too much weight to arguments that match our existing beliefs. We confuse confidence with knowledge, good looks with expertise, and wrongly assume that skills in one domain (say athletics) transfer to other settings.

We over-think when we should listen to our guts, and listen to our guts when we should take some time and think things through. We see causality when only correlation exists. We see narrative when the only explanation is random chance. We give ourselves too much credit for success, and too much blame for failure. We assume we are exceptional, when in reality almost all of us are merely average.

Does know this change our behavior? If us academic types recognize just how likely we are to get it wrong, to miss the gorilla, will it change how we approach our jobs? Will we be better teachers, administrators, librarians, and technologists knowing how clueless we
really are?

I have a growing library of books to teach me all the things that I'm not very good at. I like this library - these books sort of take the pressure off. If you liked the following books I'm sure you will greatly enjoy The Invisible Gorilla (which, by the way, is well above average in the quality of its writing).

Here is my "why we are so dumb" list of books - can you suggest any additions?:

Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely
The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home, by Dan Ariely
Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, by Kathryn Schulz
Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life, by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang
Brain Rules, by John Medina
Why We Make Mistakes, by Joseph T. Hallinan
How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, by Gerd Gigerenzer
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow
Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind, by Gary Marcus
Stumbling on Happiness, by Daniel Gilbert
The Ape in the Corner Office, by Richard Conniff
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- Joshua Kim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-18-2010
  • Publisher: Random House Audio