FROM THE CREATORS OF THE FAMED
“GORILLAS IN OUR MIDST” EXPERIMENT COMES
A PROVOCATIVE BOOK ABOUT INTUITION AND
WHY YOU CAN’T ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT
“Entertaining and illuminating . . . The Invisible Gorilla is a surprising guide to everyday illusions and the trouble they can steer us into.” —Dan Ariely, New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational
“An owner’s manual for the human mind!” —Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology, Harvard University, and New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness
How reliable is your memory? Can you trust your gut instincts? Do you really know as much as you think you know? THE INVISIBLE GORILLA (Crown, May 18, 2010) by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, is a thought-provoking book about perception, memory, and faulty thinking. While books like Ori and Ram Brafman’s Sway and Thaler and Sunstein’s Nudge address some of the subtle, indirect influences on our behavior, THE INVISIBLE GORILLA goes one step further, exposing the vast gulf that exists between how the human mind works and how we mistakenly think it works. While Gladwell’s Blink argues for the power of intuition and the big impact of small influences, THE INVISIBLE GORILLA shows that intuition isn’t a panacea. In fact, intuitions about the mind often contradict reality.
Chabris and Simons are the creators of the famous “Gorillas in Our Midst” experiment, which showed that we can fail to notice something glaringly obvious—even when it is right before our eyes (*see attached page for more information). Not only is the experiment used in almost every psychology class around the world, it has also been covered by hundreds of electronic and print media, discussed by characters on the TV show CSI, and is the subject of a dozen exhibits in science museums around the world. Chabris and Simons’s work has been featured on the CBS Early Show, Dateline, Discovery Channel, and in the New York Times, New Yorker, Scientific American, and more.
In THE INVISIBLE GORILLA Chabris and Simons draw on hundreds of experiments to show not just how our intuitions lead us astray and when they do, but why they do. Focusing on the illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause, and potential, and using dozens of real-world stories and pop-culture examples backed by clever experiments, the authors show how we continually get things wrong, and how it may be possible, for the first time, to see the world as it truly is. In an interview they can discuss the following:
The illusion of attention:
- Distracted driving, why hands-free headsets don’t solve the problem
- We aren’t as safe as we think we are (illusion of attention makes us think that security personnel, lifeguards, and police see more than they do)
The illusion of memory:
- Hillary Clinton’s famously false memory of evading sniper fire in Bosnia
- George W. Bush’s false memory of seeing the first plane hit the towers on 9/11
- Death Row inmates who were convicted due to flawed eyewitness memory
The illusion of confidence:
- Confidence can lead to a false sense of accuracy or competence
- Why celebrities/high-profile people cheat and think they can get away with it—i.e., Tiger Woods and Jesse James (if they had less confidence in their own ability to sneak around and keep things secret, they might be less likely to get in trouble)
The illusion of knowledge:
- Not knowing why events happen leads to phenomena like the mortgage crisis and failed political campaigns
- People invest in stocks when they believe they know more than they actually do
- Students and exams: Students often think they know the material much better than they do—but there are ways to overcome this illusion
The illusion of cause:
- The mind fabricates plausible—but often false—reasons for our actions
- The belief that vaccines cause autism, and that various quack remedies can cure autism or other conditions (A study in the news last month showed that 25 percent of people still believe in the vaccine-autism link)
- Advertising plays on this illusion by presenting correlations (“people who eat more whole grain have healthier body weights”), knowing that people will make the causal interpretation (“eating more whole grain will cause me to lose weight”)
The illusion of potential:
- Why it’s largely a myth that we possess a wealth of abilities and talents that we can easily unleash. While popular and highly advertised, brain-training video games aren’t all they are cracked-up to be (Disney was recently in the news for offering refunds to purchasers of Baby Einstein products)
The myth of intuition:
- Bernie Madoff got away with his Ponzi scheme because, among other reasons, the SEC accepted his claims that he used “gut feelings” to pick the perfect times to buy and sell stocks.
Beyond identifying the limits and failures of human thought and reason THE INVISIBLE GORILLA shows why we have such limitations, why the mind works the way it does, what consequences that has for our daily lives, and what we can do about it.
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About the Authors:
Christopher Chabris received his BA in computer science and his PhD in psychology from Harvard University, where he was also a lecturer and research associate for many years. He is now assistant professor of psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York, adjunct assistant professor of neurology at Albany Medical College, and a visiting scholar at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. His research focuses on two main areas: how people differ from one another in mental abilities and patterns of behavior, and how cognitive illusions affect our decisions. He has published papers on a diverse array of topics, including human intelligence, beauty and the brain, face recognition, the Mozart effect, group performance, and visual cognition. Chris also writes occasionally for the Wall Street Journal, and he is a chess master and poker amateur.
Daniel Simons is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois. Simons received his BA in psychology and cognitive science from Carleton College and his PhD in experimental psychology from Cornell University. He then spent five years on the faculty at Harvard University before moving to Illinois in 2002. His scholarly research focuses on the limits of human perception, memory, and awareness, and he is best known for his research showing that people are far less aware of their visual surroundings than they think. His work is published in top scientific journals and is discussed regularly in the popular media. His studies and demonstrations have been exhibited in more than a dozen science museums worldwide. In his spare time, he enjoys juggling, bridge, and chess.
THE INVISIBLE GORILLA
And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
By Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
Crown * May 18, 2010 * Pages: 320 * Price: $27.00 hardcover * 978-0-307-45965-7
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sarah Breivogel; 212-572-2722