'Invisible gorillas' in your life?

Have you ever failed to notice an “invisible gorilla” in your daily life? Perhaps you were in a car accident and never saw the other car. Maybe you were in a bicycle or motorcycle accident in which a car driver never saw you coming. Or, maybe you missed an obvious business opportunity that was staring you in the face because you weren’t expecting it and were focused on something else. Or, perhaps you missed an “obvious” opportunity in your personal life.

We’d like to hear about your experiences with those metaphorical ‘invisible gorillas’ in your own life. If you can think of a way that invisible gorillas have affected you, please email me about it (dan@theinvisiblegorilla.com) or post a comment on this blog post. I’ll compile the examples, and then I’ll randomly select one submitter to receive a free copy of the audiobook version of The Invisible Gorilla.

Let’s hear how invisible gorillas have affected you!

11 comments to ‘Invisible gorillas’ in your life?

  • I believe the brain also has a number of defense mechanisms to protect it from trauma, which can account for many IG’s.
    In my 60 years I have witnessed the aftermath of a number of horrific events – auto accidents, plane crashes, fires – and in virtually every case the people who were with me could later compare observations and talk, in gruesome detail, of the condition of the victims.
    And to this day I have no memories of ever seeing any bodies.

  • Great writing. Bless you for publishing it.

    With respect,

  • Kony

    A few years ago, I was riding to town with my boyfriend, when a vehicle made a left turn in front of us. My boyfriend said, “that was a nice truck.” I wasn’t really paying attention since I wasn’t driving, but I could picture the general image of the truck that passed in front of us in my head, so I agreed with him. To my puzzlement, he started laughing. “That wasn’t a truck,” he said, “that was just a regular sedan.” I started protesting vehemently, I could definitely remember seeing a truck. Finally, after several minutes, the only thing that convinced me that I was wrong was that I knew my boyfriend would not deliberately and maliciously keep lying to me. To this day, though, I remember seeing a truck. I realize now that this is a result of the suggestive nature of the statement my boyfriend made and the fact that I simply wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on…..

  • I opened my rear passenger car door and the back hatch to pack it full of about 4000 surveys for a research project. The surveys were in 8 very large contractor’s garbage bags. I was running late to get the surveys to work where they would be packed into boxes for shipping.
    I hopped into the car and started the engine.
    When the motor turned on, car said, “DING! DING! DING!”

    To which I replied, “Stupid car, what are you dinging about now!?”
    I then put the car into reverse to back out of the driveway.
    To which the car replied, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP while still DINGING, DINGING, DINGING. I stopped the car. The thumping was the passenger side rear door hitting the basketball pole which is installed in concrete beside the driveway.

    I had no idea what was wrong. I have been driving for over 4 decades.
    I completely forgot that I had the left the back passenger side door open in my rush to not be late. I could not see the open door because the car was full of many large black bags. I ignored the DINGING because I couldn’t see a problem and a few years ago the car had electrical issues so I chose to believe the car was just being ridiculous.

    I could not shut the car door. (My neighbor helped adjust some bolts and we got the door to close (sort of), it was ultimately repaired at a collision shop.
    I have been reading the Invisible Gorilla and see many connnections between the topics in the book and social psych.
    Thanks for great research and an excellent book!

  • I have long struggled to understand some of expensive and non-sensical public transit and “infrastructure” projects that Cities have been proposing in the last decade. Whenever I drilled down into the individual projects, the justifications were sketchy, the costs excessive and the logic flawed.

    Then I read about how Cities are facing huge unfulfilled obligations on their pension funds as many are retiring and at the same time tax revenues are falling short.

    Am I seeing the Gorilla here? The real driver behind the craziness?

  • Jeremy

    I was driving on I-94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis when far ahead of us an accident had occurred. I could see the traffic quickly avoiding something in one of the center lanes. Maybe a second or two later I was driving past a vehicle still spinning on it’s roof. The car I saw was Blue CRV – maybe a RAV-4. Anyway, a small, blue “cute-ute”. My passenger saw a red Ford Explorer or Expedition. Clearly, we’re not both right. And there’s a good possibility we’re both wrong.

  • Here’s another financial IG that someone spotted and noted on the blog SLOG here in Seattle:


    “After last week saw an insider selling to buying ratio of 1,411 to 1, this week the ratio has nearly doubled, hitting a ridiculous 2,341 to 1. ”

    A thematic IG has to be orders of magnitude. People just don’t respond or recognize how large even a 2nd order of magnitude difference is from a 1st order. So, 10 times is seen as just “smaller” than 100 times or 1000 times without understanding how enourmously smaller it really is!

    For example, I was arguing over who was “rich” with some people overwrought over a statement that “no one making $200,000 a year feels rich”. I asked them to think in terms of a billionaire…it would take 5000 years for the person making $200,000 a year, assuming no expenses and no taxes whatsoever, to put $1 Billion in the bank.

    I am not sure if it set in!

  • My IG is that when I was 15 I invented a way to send music down phone-lines to an amplified receiver via a telephone call.

    I figured that these numbers could be advertised on the Saturday music shows and people with a receiver could listen to the track for the price of a phone call.

    I called it TCS (Telephonic Content Services).

    I managed to get 12 customers selling them what was, in hindsight, probably an illegal service that included tracks by none other than Prince before my father cancelled the telephone account.

    Did I invent something similar to what we now know as the internet?

  • Here’s an IG. While everyone decries the “Wall Street Banker” who makes a $10 million salary…what about the Tech Whiz Kid who sells of $50 million of stock options per month! All the while his company’s stock is well of its high point. Aren’t we mislead by appearance…and failing to see the real Gorilla?

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