The Invisible Gorilla- And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by cognitive psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons outlines the trap of six “everyday illusions” that cloud the decisions that we make from those of little consequence to those that can have life and death implications.

You know those people that have to have the last word? It seems that I might have a wee bit of that lurking in my DNA. There are a couple of things that I just had to say about this book before I am complete.

First, it was a tad humbling to see some of my sacred cows being sacrificed. While reading this book I was reminded how much I trust and rely on emotions and intuitive hits as a source of information. Time and again Chabris and Simons Illustrate the false information that anything but solid analysis can render. This includes some of the writings of my hero Malcolm Gladwell. (gasp)

Secondly, I was somewhat discouraged after reading how often seemingly valid scientific investigations are poorly designed and/or executed and therefore unreliable. Even though the authors offer some guidelines for determining robust data, I was left wondering how easy it is for the average person to determine what information to trust. Unfortunately the net result of reading this book left me still in the camp that would seek out poets, painters and sages as my guides of choice over solely relying on the black and white “truth” of the scientific method. Does this mean that my ENFP DNA rears its head in the end?

Finally, the bottom line for me here is twofold. First being aware that we often operate under faulty assumptions about the accuracy of our cognitive abilities and how understanding the nature of some of these typical errors can keep us from making BAD decisions. Second, differentiate between areas where objective analysis is possible and when we have to rely on other ways of knowing and deciding. In either case practicing taking time for reflection is undeniably important.

What do you rely on to guide your day to day decisions – big or small?

Category: Perspectives
  • Share/Bookmark