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on 6 March 2017
A great read, engaging and thought provoking.

There are a few "tests" in the book which you find yourself trying to "pass" - I failed most of them, I was constantly learning with every page.

It can become a bit tedious a times, with drawn out examples and explanations, but stick with it and you'll get your rewards.
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on 29 July 2017
Excellent read. Entertaining, informative and accessible. Highly recommend.
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on 30 July 2017
Thought provoking book
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The book basically expands on the old premise of the "elephant in the room", that so much is happening around us but yet we're blind to it and there is a very good reason for that. There is a very good reason for this. The author makes reference to a basic experiment that setting a gorilla loose on a sports field is great way to see if people would notice something out of the ordinary, nice opening gambit but then the same experiment is referenced over and over throughout, which could lead to a feeling of not giving the reader enough credit.

One thing you learn as an artist and a photographer is to see things others don't. Street and city photographers are incredibly adept at this, we can walk down the same streets over and over for weeks or months and each time we can spot something as small as a crisp wrapper has appeared and it is so glaring out of place and different. We're looking for minute changes in people, behaviour, expressions, light, mood feeling, we see it all and we attempt to capture it in a photograph.

I can sum up the book in a very simple example. When you lose your keys, you may spend 20-30 mins looking for them and all the time they were right in front of you. As we say in photography, you looked but you didn't see. Your mind has to accept that very little changes from day to day , it ignores a lot of detail around you all the time because if it didn't ignore a lot of what is happening around you would overload your brain constantly thinking about every tiny aspect of your life and probably wouldn't get much done. The book suggests that we're far too deeply into this mindset of just accepting what is happening around us to the point of apathy in most things, drifting through life without seeing thing properly. The authors are attempting to "wake us", ask us to not just accept all that is happening and start to be more observant of things around us, only the things that may be important to us.

This book is a little long in detail and there are lots of ways to develop a keen analytical mind, art is one these as it encourages you to see and study details, this book is a more academic method of learning that skill. An interesting read and one I would recommended but not as much fun as taking photos!
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It is a quirky book popularising a well-known scientific study of human failings; we don't notice a lot of what we see or hear, we modify our memories to fit what we think we should have remembered, and many of us have unwarranted confidence in our competence, despite the facts of reality.

For many readers it will be stultifyingly boring, and the prose can be densely leaden at times. But for someone like me, a scientist and engineer with an enquiring and logical mind, an observer who wants to know why things work, a keen student of people and the weird things we say and do, then it is fascinating. It answers several questions, like `Why do I keep forgetting things?' and poses a number of others such as `Am I anywhere near as perceptive, or able, as I thought I was?' and it makes me only too aware of our (my) human frailties.

Having read the book, I feel that I now know a lot more about how people normally think, react, observe, interact, co-operate, even gamble. It has made me change my attitude to how my own mind works, and I've dug out some of my old text books on thinking and human relationships, hopefully to help re-sharpen my perceptions before the acceleration of time blunts them forever.

Here is an example of how I've changed.
Tuesday morning I was taking a break from sanding down some paintwork, standing on the landing looking out the front window at the wet path, and being grateful that we had been blessed with some rain at long last, because this would help to rescue the baked lawn I had planted a few months ago.
The sound of a key in the lock below me made me realise two of my family had returned from the shops. But I had not seen them approach, even though I had been looking out of the window, and they must have walked along the path right through my eye line.
Why had I not seen them if I was looking there? My mind was focused elsewhere, thinking about both the lawn and the paintwork.
Why point this out? Before reading the book, I would not even have noticed my lack of observation! So I am one step back up the ladder to better awareness.

In the book they show how drivers often do not see other vehicles, simply because the context is wrong. This goes on all the time, and it could happen to you or me today, either being the driver not seeing, or in the car ignored. This potential accident scenario scares me! I was thinking of becoming a biker again, even recently had a whole-day re-familiarisation `Back to Biking' lesson, which was great fun, but now maybe I'll think again - a bike is a `soft vehicle.'

There is also quite a lot about overconfidence and estimation, something I was all too aware of as a project engineer. When preparing a quote we always tripled our expected time and costs; partly to give some negotiating room and partly because we could not predict everything, and yet sometimes we still underestimated. The book quotes Hofstadter's Law, which states "It always takes longer than you expect, even if you take into account Hofstadter's Law." You had better believe it!

The last section of the book tells us how to improve ourselves in the ways we confront and master these problems, deficiencies, call them what you will. And it all makes good sense, especially having read what went before in the rest of the book. But Chabris and Simons do this far better than I could summarise, so you'll need to read the book to find out how.

Should you wish to be very thorough in your reading of the book it has a comprehensive index and forty-two pages of notes referred to in the text. I would have preferred the notes as footnotes on the same page as the text calling them, since cross-referencing them from one end of the book to the other turned out to be difficult, and eventually I gave up, a shame since some were very interesting.

It has taken me a couple of weeks to read the book and it has sent me off to sleep several times - fortunately in bed. But it was definitely worth the read. I recommend it to anyone with an enquiring mind.
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VINE VOICEon 1 July 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
...can be astonishingly different. What is more, being quite confident and sure of what you have seen is no guarantee that you are right.

Our ability to miss what is right in front of our noses is a 'normal' part of human perception. Despite that, it's a part most of us are utterly oblivious too. People have gone to prison because juries can't believe the defendant failed to miss something "so obvious". People have gone to prison because witnesses have been so certain of their memories. And yet both of these can be completely wrong.

This book, written in a very readable manner but grounded firmly in evidence, will open your eyes to how your (and everyone else's) brain works. It is genuinely an interesting read, so don't be put off if you feel you aren't "scientifically minded". The authors write with ordinary people in mind - and for ordinary people it is an eye-opening education indeed. Most of us can recall times when we missed something - the "car that came from nowhere" at a junction we narrowly missed hitting and so on. It is really deeply interesting to understand what is going on that allows that to happen. Indeed, not only is it interesting but by bringing this aspect of human cognition to our attention, the authors hope and intend that it may make us at least a little less vulnerable in the future. (And maybe also more understanding of apparently "unbelievable" lapses in memory or awareness in other people).

A very readable glimpse into how our minds work aimed at the "ordinary" reader.
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on 3 March 2012
Chabris and Simons are responsible for the famous gorilla video, subject of the 1999 'Gorillas in the Midst' article in Perception, which has been widely used in safety training (among other things). If you haven't seen the video I won't spoil it!

Chapter 1 focuses on the 'illusion of attention' / 'seeing but not seeing' concentrating on the original experiment, a case of a Boston policemen who missed a seeing a crime while in hot pursuit, the USS Greenville SSN / FV Eime Mahru collision, road accidents and NASA Ames simulator studies where runway incursions were missed by approaching aircraft. Relevant to consideration of the difficulty (even the danger) of multi-tasking.

Chapter 2 looks at how we don't remember as well as we think. Examples include some quick post 9/11 experiments, spotting (or not) film continuity errors and so on.

Chapter 3 looks at how on average people think they are smarter than the average! It also looks at a mistaken, but highly confident, identification leading to a wrongful conviction.

Chapter 4 is on the 'illusion of knowledge', a mistaken belief that we actually understand more than we do.

Chapter 5 is on false perception of causality, using the false connection between the MMR jab and autism as an example, and also how one anecdote from a friend have more effect than stacks of scientific data on perceptions and behaviour.

Chapter 6 covers the optimistic 'illusion of potential' i.e. thinking we have great untapped mental resources that can be release by (say) listening to Mozart.

The concluding chapter wraps this up with a neat exercise to spot the 6 illusions.

The earlier chapters do tend to be stronger than the subsequent ones.

[...]
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on 6 November 2011
This book explains the scientific theory why people look at something in front of them yet fail to see the obvious! It explains different kinds of cognitive illusions people suffer and how one can minimise them by practising proper reasoning skills.

The language is lucid and examples are convincing. It also highlights how some of the best seller business books on similar topics got it wrong. For example studying successful companies strategies only does not prove they are infallible because many other coma noes followed same strategies yet failed to attain success. This proves alternate solution to success can exists.

It also explains why intuition or gut feeling alone should not be trusted without factual evidence.

This book is a revleation of how human minds work.

Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book continues from their great experiment of a man in a gorilla suit walking across the screen and waving. The viewers are asked to count how many times the ball was passed and at the end were asked some questions. Only half noticed the gorilla. They were concentrating so much on the count, the mind blocked out all other things, like the gorilla walking and waving.

Your mind does not processes everything you see, it is selective, and this book explains how it is quite easy for your mind to play a trick on you by not seeing the obvious.

It is well written and explores the topic in depth and is a fascinating read. So why not 5 stars? Two things really, it seemed a little long and going into details that can sometimes be repeated. The second is just a niggle. Early on, for nearly every page the invisible gorilla experiment gets mentioned, as does it many times in the book. Yes, I know thats what the book is about and carries on from, but I got a little tired of it keep being mentioned all the time.

Apart from these two minor niggles, a fascinating read.
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on 22 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When my gran was in her 70s, she stepped into the road in front of a car. They were both going slowly, and my gran was knocked over but OK.
When she got up she shouted, "It was a hit and run!".
"No, it was me, I'm here and I'm really sorry," said the woman who had driven the car.
"It was a blue car!" shouted my gran.
"No, it's white, it's right here, it's mine," said the distraught driver.
"It came from nowhere!" said my gran.
"No, I was just turning out of this street. You looked right at me," said the woman.
The police did not press charges, which was fair enough.
We like to think our memories are reliable, even as we grow older and joke about forgetting why we came into a room and having to go back and start again. We also like to think that our observational skills are reliable. The Invisible Gorilla proves that we aren't anywhere near as reliable as we think we are. Our brains don't simply record like video cameras, they interpret, and more importantly they miss huge chunks out.
The Invisible Gorilla is one of those science books that's so fascinating that you forget it's about science. I mean that nicely. (Why can't more schoolbooks be like this? We'd all end up better educated.) It's a great read, essential for everyone who is interested in how our brains really work. It should also be on the compulsory reading list for everyone involved in the law because it shows that witnesses are unreliable. No matter how well they think they observed a scene, they are pretty much guaranteed to have got it wrong. Do read it, because it will make you question the way you see the world, and that's always a good thing.
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