SOMETIMES THERE IS A GORILLA
I am currently reading a book (when am I not?) about how we think. The book is Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman, (ISBN 0374275637 / 9780374275631, Publ. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2011). Dr. Kahneman, who won The Nobel Prize in 2002 for Economic Sciences, writes a very interesting book about what influences our thoughts and beliefs. To give you a thumbnail sketch, he breaks our thinking down into what he identifies as System 1, which is our fast thinking (e.g., how we immediately know someone is angry by looking at their face) and System 2, which is our slow thinking (e.g., how much is 34 x 19). While most of us like to think we are governed by System 2, our slow, reasonable thinking side, he extrapolates by way of sound reasoning, that our thinking may be guided by System 1 far more than we realize. If you get a chance, read the book. Dr. Kahneman, thankfully, uses almost no technical jargon so the read is easy, enjoyable, and fascinating for those of us who are interested in how and why we think the way we do.
In the early pages of his book, Dr. Kahneman relates a psychological study from a book by Christopher F. Chavis and Daniel J. Simons, entitled, The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways We Deceive Ourselves (ISBN 9780307459664 / eISBN 9780307459671 Publ. Random House, 2010). The study is a video of two groups, one wearing white shirts and one wearing black shirts, passing a basketball on a court. Those viewing the video are instructed to count the number of times the members of the group wearing white shirts pass the basketball. They are to ignore the black shirted group. During the video a woman wearing a gorilla costume walks through the video, thumps her chest and moves on.
This video has been shown to thousands of individuals…about half never see the woman in the gorilla costume.
About HALF you say?!
Amazing isn’t it? Not only do they not see the gorilla, but when they are told about the gorilla they are initially positive it wasn’t there. Hence there are really two issues here:
- They are blind to the obvious.
- They are blind to the fact they are blind.
Makes you wonder what we are blind to our in our own lives, doesn’t it? What gorillas do we have wondering around, that others see, yet we don’t have a clue.
I know I’m pretty good at spotting them in other people’s lives.
Think I’ll spend some time today trying to locate some gorillas walking about in my life.