The Monkey Business Illusion

Read of the day: The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

I’ve been hooked on this book for a while now, with every three pages is a chapter on a certain bias or illusion that we subconsciously succumb to as a result of our ancestors way of life. These illusions and biases may or may not be relevant to us today, but they are so subconscious that we don’t even realise them. And the dangerous part is when they’re no longer relevant, but we still irrationally fall for them.

Here’s an example: Today I read the chapter ‘The Illusion of Attention’ (the video above was recommended in the book). We often think we’ve got everything under control and we have taken note of everything important. But most of the time we’re wrong, because our minds naturally take note of the loud things, the things that shout out to us and the obvious things that are expected, but we rarely notice the silent, unexpected things. They say ‘still waters run deep’, there are quiet things that can be so much more important than the loud ones.

Let’s say you’re teaching a classroom full of kids, and the biggest problem- the loud disruptive kids. You think you’ve got the situation under control because you’ve noted the biggest problem- these loud kids. But then we don’t realise that the ones who really need our help are the silent ones who keep all their frustration in them. It’s like ‘the gorilla in the room’ (if you don’t get that, watch the video): a topic that is of the utmost importance and urgency, that we absolutely need to address but nobody notices it.

We are so fixated on things we expect, and we’re so confident that we notice everything, that we miss out on some of the most important things. Moral of story? (I quote here,) Pay attention to silences as much as you respond to noises. Think the unthinkable. Something unusual can be huge, but we still may not see it just because we always fall for the illusion that we perceive everything of importance.

Haha I don’t think I did even half as good as job as the book did in Dobelli’s three pages, so get the book today, or I’d be happy to have you join in the waiting list to borrow the book from me when I’m done.


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