Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Invisible Gorilla - Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.

The Invisible Gorilla checks and rechecks many myths that have been governing our minds. I won’t be as far fetch as to say that they’ve successfully debunked these myths, since the cases which are brought up in this kind of psychological thesis are isolated cases. Which means, you argue one way, it goes one way. You argue the other way, and you find that it could be a possibility too. But the interesting thought here is that their argument is pretty substantial when it comes to how our misconceptions of various truths about ourselves led us to perhaps make less than accurate decisions. It may not seem like very much of a big deal when it’s menial day-to-day business but take instances from the courtroom, sometimes it may cost a lot more than saying, “Oops, I guess I thought wrong”.

Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons both received the Ig Nobel Prize for Psychology in September 2004 “for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it’s all too easy to overlook anything else”. Sometimes we’re too quick to jump the gun, too eager to close the case that we forget about other perspectives and possibilities, and start drawing conclusions based on our own intuition, our own experience, confidence and even memory. But if you realize, take memory as an instance, it is written by ourselves with absolutely no details of how the outcome might be to someone else. When a situation happens, the track involves multiple ‘actors’ and almost always, we’re just one of them. When we record the situation through lenses which are tinted by our own expectations and previous experience, we cannot remain neutral in saving that piece of memory. Which really means that even if the same incident happened to both you and I, there could be a discrepancy between your story and mine simply because we processed the information in different ways which are entirely biased. If there was a shootout on the street, we would have captured totally different images that are sometimes drawn from our own biasness. You see a black guy shooting. I recall clearly it was a white guy. So who’s right and who’s wrong? Memories, like history is written by the winner and in our story, who else but us take the leading actor role? And this is just one of the many ‘illusions’ that we base our everyday decisions and judgments on.

In their words: The Invisible Gorilla is a book about six everyday illusions that profoundly influence our lives: the illusions of attention, memory, confidence, knowledge, cause and potential. These are distorted beliefs we hold about our minds that are not just wrong, but wrong in dangerous ways.

Pick this book up. It’s a must read if you, like me, like them, enjoy Malcolm Gladwell.

Here's a sneak peek on what to expect:

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