Invisible Gorilla reviewed in NY Times

Chris and I are really excited that our book, The Invisible Gorilla, got a nice review in the New York Times Book Review. The review, written by Paul Bloom and titled “What we miss” will be in this Sunday’s paper (June 6). You can read it online now.

Cell phones, driving, and laws

Dan and I have a new op-ed in the Seattle Times about the effectiveness of laws requiring drivers to use hands-free phones. The state of Washington has a new hands-free mandate that goes into effect on June 10th. We argue that these laws are not likely to solve the problem they are aimed at, because the main thing that is distracting about a cell phone conversation is speaking with someone who isn’t present, not taking one hand off the wheel to hold the phone.

However, at our talk at Microsoft Research this afternoon, a questioner made an excellent point that we did not address in the op-ed. One thing you definitely cannot do with a hands-free phone is send text messages, and texting is much more distracting than talking on a cell phone. (It still amazes me that people think they can text without significantly affecting their driving safety—the illusion of attention is powerful!) So if the law reduces texting while driving, it will have some benefit.

(PS: We also talked about the book with Steve Scher on “Weekday” on the Seattle NPR station, KUOW, this morning.)

Upcoming appearances

Chris and I will be doing a number of interviews and book signings over the next few weeks. Here are a few of the upcoming events:

June 2 — San Francisco — I will be interviewed on KVON-AM for “Late Mornings with Jeff Schectman” from 9:00-9:30am PST

June 2 — San Francisco — I will be interviewed on KGO-AM for the “Ronn Owens Show” from 11:00am-12:00pm PST.

June 3 — Seattle — Chris and I will be interviewed on KUOW (Seattle NPR affiliate) by Steve Scher for “Weekday” from 9:00-10:00am PST.

June 3 — Redmond, WA — Chris and I will be giving a talk at Microsoft from 1:30-3:00pm PST

June 3 — Seattle — Chris and I will be giving a short presentation and doing a book signing at the University Bookstore (4326 University Way NE) from 7:00-9:00pm PST.

“The Trouble With Intuition”

Dan and I have a long-ish article based on material from The Invisible Gorilla, called “The Trouble With Intuition,” in this week’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. We argue that intuition has been oversold as a method of making sound decisions, and that relying on intuition is dangerous whenever those intuitions concern how our minds work, how much we know, and how we come to conclusions about causality.

Book News

The Invisible Gorilla has been in the news quite a bit this week. Here is a roundup of some recent mentions and reviews:

The Associated Press ran a review by Rasha Madkour, who wrote, “The authors seek to inspire doubt in the mind’s ability — and they absolutely succeed … filled with fascinating and revealing experiments that call into question assumptions we have about our mental abilities and those of others … this is a must-read for anyone who wants to better understand how the mind works.”

The Globe and Mail in Canada published a short interview with us, with a sidebar on examples of everyday illusions in the news.

Chris appeared on the Motley Fool Money Radio Show this past weekend, where he discussed some of the experiments we present in the book and the implications of our ideas for personal finance and investing. His segment starts at the 19-minute mark.

Margaret Heffernan, who was kind enough to endorse the book early on, blogged about it at the Huffington Post this week.

Chess and the illusion of confidence

Chris and I have a column in Today’s New York Post on what we’ve called the Illusion of Confidence. In the column, we discuss now-classic work by Justin Kruger and David Dunning on the double curse of incompetence: People who are unskilled are also unaware of it. Kruger and Dunning showed that this principle—the worst performers are the most overconfident—applied to domains ranging from senses of humor to logic abilities.

Our essay summarizes the results of a study we conducted some years ago with our colleague Daniel Benjamin (one of these years we’ll get around to writing it up for publication). The study surveyed experienced tournament chess players and found that the weaker players massively overestimated how good they were (they thought their own ratings did not reflect their true, and much better, ability). Their overestimates inherently reflected overconfidence — they thought they would beat someone with their own skill level more than 2/3 of the time. Better players didn’t show as much overconfidence.

The study shows that the Dunning/Kruger principle applies even to a domain for which the players know exactly where they stand relative to their peers and have a full understanding of how skill is measured in chess. We cover all of this research and its implications in more depth in “The Invisible Gorilla.”

Source Cited:
Kruger J, & Dunning D (1999). Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments. Journal of personality and social psychology, 77 (6), 1121-34 PMID: 10626367

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Invisible Gorilla on NPR Talk of the Nation

Chris and I were on Talk of the Nation yesterday to talk about our new book, The Invisible Gorilla. If you are interested, you can read a transcript and hear the podcast here.

Dan's presentation at the illusion of the year contest

On Monday (May 10) I presented my “Monkey Business Illusion” at the Illusion of the year contest. I posted about it here on Tuesday. I’ve just finished editing together some video we shot of my presentation and uploaded it to YouTube. The contest was a blast — I hope you enjoy this unofficial footage. You’ll see that I gave the presentation while wearing a gorilla suit (I wore a tie for added formality).

Interview of Dan at

Dave Munger of dailymonthly, researchblogging, and Seed Magazine did an extended inteview with me while we were both at the Vision Sciences meeting this week. The interview covered a wide range of topics, but mostly focused on the gorilla experiment and the phenomenon of inattentional blindness. The interview was just published on and you can read the whole thing here.

monkey business illusion at

My presentation at the Illusion of the year competition was featured at The article discusses the contest and ends with my presentation. If you haven’t viewed my illusion yet, view it first before reading the Nature piece — the piece contains spoilers.

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