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The Invisible Gorilla summary

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

And Other Ways Our Intuition Deceives Us

3.9 (36 ratings)
14 mins

Brief summary

The Invisible Gorilla by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons explores the ways in which we overlook everyday details and completely miss the obvious. Through a series of experiments and real-world examples, the authors reveal the limitations of our attention and the dangers of relying on intuition.

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    The Invisible Gorilla
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    Though we’re taught otherwise, our intuition often can’t be trusted.

    Ever tried to navigate through a situation by listening to your intuition, but ended up in an even more tangled mess? If so, you’re not alone. Sometimes gut decisions can go wrong. Here’s why:

    We’re often taught to let our intuition be our guide, to “go with your gut” because “it’s just common sense.” These sayings are based on the idea that our intuition – that is, our ability to understand something instinctively – is an ideal means to making decisions and judgments about situations and events.

    In recent years, self-help books on management and psychology have lauded intuitive decisions over decisions based on analysis. In Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink – The Power of Thinking without Thinking, for example, he argues for intuition over analysis. He attempts to demonstrate this by revealing how a Greek statue appeared on the art market and was subsequently proclaimed to be a fake by art experts who trusted their gut. In contrast, several analyses weren’t able to show it was fake.

    But our intuition has its limits and can actually be unreliable. There are many examples of forgery slipping through the cracks, undetected by expert intuition.

    For example, book dealer Thomas J. Wise found and sold several manuscripts for unknown books by well-known writers. Librarians and book collectors alike were convinced they were the real deal, but after analysis by two British dealers who took into account information about the authors’ lives, the books were all found to be fake.

    It also pays to remember that we have phrases in our language that tell us of the limitations of our intuition. For instance, many of us say “never judge a book by its cover” because we know we can’t reliably assess something at first glance.

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    What is The Invisible Gorilla about?

    The Invisible Gorilla (2010) explores the way our intuition is not the beacon of guiding light we think it is. In fact, it’s often erroneously based on illusions. By debunking some examples of common knowledge, Chabris and Simons argue why our intuition often cannot be trusted.

    The Invisible Gorilla Review

    The Invisible Gorilla (2010) by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons is a thought-provoking book that explores the hidden tricks our minds play on us. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through compelling research and experiments, it reveals the astonishing gaps in our perception and memory, challenging our assumptions about the accuracy of our senses.
    • This book presents a fresh perspective on how our minds work, helping us understand why we overlook important details and make faulty judgments in various situations.
    • Engaging and accessible, The Invisible Gorilla keeps readers captivated by shedding light on the mysteries of human cognition, ensuring it never becomes dull or tedious.

    Best quote from The Invisible Gorilla

    We are aware only of the unexpected objects we do notice, not the ones we have missed.

    —Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons
    example alt text

    Who should read The Invisible Gorilla?

    • People interested in the inner workings of the mind
    • Psychology students
    • Managers who want a new way to approach to decision making

    About the Author

    Christopher Chabris is associate professor of psychology and co-director of the neuroscience program at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He is also a chess master who writes about the game for the Wall Street Journal.

    Specializing in experimental psychology, Daniel Simons is a professor both in the department of psychology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois.

    Together, Chabris and Simons won the Ig Nobel Prize (awarded to research that “makes people laugh, and then think”) for their work on the invisibility of gorillas.

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    The Invisible Gorilla FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Invisible Gorilla?

    The main message of The Invisible Gorilla is that we often miss important details and underestimate how much we don't see.

    How long does it take to read The Invisible Gorilla?

    The reading time for The Invisible Gorilla varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Invisible Gorilla a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Invisible Gorilla is worth reading as it exposes our blind spots and challenges our assumptions about perception. It offers fascinating insights into the limits of our awareness.

    Who is the author of The Invisible Gorilla?

    The authors of The Invisible Gorilla are Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.

    What to read after The Invisible Gorilla?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Invisible Gorilla, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Irrationality by Stuart Sutherland
    • You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney
    • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
    • The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman & Philip Fernbach
    • The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
    • The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidic
    • Hello Sleep by Jade Wu
    • How to Walk into a Room by Emily P. Freeman
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong Couples Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely