Book Review: The Invisible Gorilla, by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

via Daniel Simons

This book, subtitled And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, concerns several everyday workings of our brains that can sometimes mislead us in dangerous ways, the cognitive illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, causation, potential, and finally tying all these together in a sort of meta-illusion, intuition itself.

Now what do I mean by illusions? Don’t these things actually exist? Well, they do, to a point, and they are beneficial up to a point, But the use of ‘illusion’ here means that these things are often not as they seem, despite being very real to a degree. We are often fooled as to their nature, and frequently ignore or dismiss their fallibility, sometimes making serious errors that can prove very costly — such as the failure of a thriving business enterprise resulting from (over)confident decisions or losing millions from hedge funds when seeing and acting on causal patterns (for example) in the stock market that don’t actually exist.

This book describes, using vivid examples of real world events where these illusions played a significant part, the ways they work, and most importantly, the ways we can use to mitigate them, their uses when they aren’t misbehaving, with copious references to the research backing up the findings of the book.

I found this useful, and doubly so for reading this having debunked several notions of my own that would have proved troublesome if I hadn’t been disabused of them. It really got me thinking about how my mind operates, and the ways all our brains work just by being what they are and doing what they do. And what to do about it. I think that this book is both educational and eye-opening, and if you don’t mind disabusing yourself of myths, however intuitive they may seem, then this book just might be for you.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Invisible Gorilla, by Christopher Chabris & Daniel Simons

  1. When the kids were littler we went to an illusions exhibition at Scitech. Which is an educational facility we have here. They showed that gorilla video. My kids couldn’t believe that there were people who didn’t see the gorilla the first time (they were giggling so hard). I hope that means they have good observation skills.
    Sounds like a great little book, too.


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