July 6, 2010

The Invisible Gorilla

"Hey, look. There's a sale on bananas!"

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

Crown Books, New York

This book by two cognitive psychologists is a little like that bratty kid in high school chemistry lab who knew all the answers but never had any friends. De we really want to know ways our intuition deceives us? The Invisible Gorilla delineates the six everyday illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause and potential. The authors say, “When you finish this book you will be able to glimpse the man behind the curtain and some of the tiny gears and pulleys that govern you thoughts and beliefs.” What they don’t say, at least directly, is there is little or nothing we can do about them.

I did enjoy the sections on memory, “…memory doesn’t store everything we perceive, but instead takes what we have seen or heard and associates it with what we already know” and the section on causes, “the mind apparently prefers to make these extra leaps of logic over being explicitly told the reasons for everything.” The first assuages my old-age lapses of memory about insignificant names and movie titles; the second is good advice for creative writers to “show rather than tell.”

Albert Einstein once recommended that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” This book sometimes falls off that ledge.  

Buy this directly from amazon for $17.82.  Click here: The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

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