The invisible gorilla
by National Master Chris Chabris and Daniel Simons

Chris received his B.A. in computer science and his Ph.D. 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. Chris is also 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 B.A. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Carleton College and his Ph.D. 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.

Reading this book will make you less sure of yourself-and that’s a good thing. In The Invisible Gorilla, we use a wide assortment of stories and counterintuitive scientific findings to reveal 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.

We combine the work of other researchers with our own findings on attention, perception, memory, and reasoning to reveal how faulty intuitions often get us into trouble. In the process, we explain:

  • Why a company would spend billions to launch a product that its own analysts know will fail
  • How a police officer could run right past a brutal assault without seeing it
  • Why award-winning movies are full of editing mistakes
  • What criminals have in common with chess masters
  • Why measles and other childhood diseases are making a comeback
  • Why money managers could learn a lot from weather forecasters

Again and again, we think we experience and understand the world as it is, but our thoughts are beset by everyday illusions. We write traffic laws and build criminal cases on the assumption that people will notice when something unusual happens right in front of them. We’re sure we know where we were on 9/11, falsely believing that vivid memories are seared into our mind with perfect fidelity. And as a society, we spend billions on devices to train our brains because we’re continually tempted by the lure of quick fixes and effortless self-improvement.

The Invisible Gorilla reveals the numerous ways that our intuitions can deceive us, but it’s more than a catalog of human failings. In the book, we also explain why people succumb to these everyday illusions and what we can do to inoculate ourselves against their effects. In short, we try to give you a sort of “x-ray vision” into your own minds, with the ultimate goal of helping you notice the invisible gorillas in your own life.

From Chris:

Dear friend:

You may know that I have been working on a book, with my co-author Dan Simons, over the past couple of years. You may not know that the book is finished and set to be published in the U.S. and Canada by Crown/Random House on May 18th, or that it’s called “The Invisible Gorilla, and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us.” So now you do.

The book uses psychology experiments and real-world stories to explain how many of the ideas we have about our own minds are wrong — even dangerously wrong — and what we can do about it. Kirkus Reviews calls it “a fascinating look at little-known illusions that greatly affect our daily lives … offers surprising insights into just how clueless we are about how our minds work and how we experience the world.”

What I didn’t even quite realize myself when I got into this was the extent to which publishers expect authors to do their own promotion these days. No more sitting back and waiting for the publisher to do all the dirty work! So I am hereby subjecting you to the first of what will be — at most — two or three unsolicited messages over the next few weeks. Consider them spam if you like, but before you press Delete, please do me a favor and consider the following:

Becoming a fan of The Invisible Gorilla on Facebook:

Checking out our website and blog:

And of course, pre-ordering the book itself on

For any of these I would be very grateful, and for all of them … well, I would be even more grateful!

That’s the end of today’s spam. Expect a couple more, and then to not hear from me again in such an impersonal way until I change my address, have another child, etc.



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