Reading this book will make you less sure of yourself—and that’s a good thing.
In The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, creators of one of psychology’s most famous experiments, use remarkable stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to demonstrate an important truth: Our minds don’t work the way we think they do. We think we see ourselves and the world as they really are, but we’re actually missing a whole lot.
You can make better decisions, and maybe even live a better life, if you do your best to look for the invisible gorillas in the world around you. We were just trying to be clever when we titled our original article on the gorilla experiment “Gorillas in Our Midst,” but in a metaphorical sense, there are gorillas in our midst. There may be important things right in front of you that you aren’t noticing due to the illusion of attention. Now that you know about this illusion, you’ll be less apt to assume you’re seeing everything there is to see. You may think you remember some things much better than you really do, because of the illusion of memory. Now that you understand this illusion, you’ll trust your own memory, and that of others, a bit less, and you’ll try to corroborate your memory in important situations. You’ll recognize that the confidence people express often reflects their personalities rather than their knowledge, memory, or abilities. You’ll be wary of thinking you know more about a topic than you really do, and you will test your own understanding before mistaking familiarity for knowledge. You won’t think you know the cause of something when all you really know is what happened before it or what tended to accompany it. You’ll be skeptical of claims that simple tricks can unleash the untapped potential in your mind, but you’ll be aware that you can develop phenomenal levels of expertise if you study and practice the right way.