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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Are you sure you saw what you think you saw?

In a fascinating, humorous and insightful book Chabris and Simons point to the research that shows that you really don't know what you think you know. Why not? Because you're simply not paying attention. Or, maybe you've convinced yourself that they way you think it happened is the way it happened. Or, maybe you are just a horrible judge of your own capabilities. Whichever the cause, we really don't know what we think we know.

Chabris and Simons look at research (such as their famous "gorilla" experiment - click here to see it on youtube), well known events (such as the infamous Neil Reed/Bobby Knight "choking" incident), popular fallacies (such as eyewitnesses being infallible and subliminal messages in movies and TV), continuity errors in movies (and real life experiments that explain why we don't notice them in movies) and faulty conclusions that are promoted by other authors (they are especially tough on Malcolm Gladwell, a personal favorite of mine).

As a teacher, I was especially fascinated by a discussion about self-perception and skill level. They note that those with the least amount of skill are most likely to overrate their abilities and experience an "illusion of confidence." As we approach final exams I note, once again, that the students who need to study the most claim they have it under control.

A quick and fun read, it is also a great conversation starter. Highly recommended.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This book can be found here: The Invisible Gorilla.

Reviewed May 20, 2010.

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