Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Invisible Gorilla

THE INVISIBLE GORILLA by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons

by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, authors of The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us (Crown Archetype, 2010)

More than a decade ago, when we did the experiment that inspired the name of our book, we had no idea that it would become as well known as it has. For us, it was mostly a way for the students in a course we were teaching to work together on a research project on perception and awareness. We created several videos that showed two groups of three people passing basketballs around. The students showed one of these videos to subjects and asked them to count how many times the people wearing white passed the ball. While they were focusing their attention on this task, half of the subjects failed to notice a person in a gorilla suit who casually strolled into the scene, thumped her chest at the camera, and walked off the other side. Continue reading

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The Myth of the Mid-Life Crisis, and the Real Search for Fulfillment

THE SEARCH FOR FULFILLMENT by Susan Krauss Whitbourne

by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, author of The Search for Fulfillment: Revolutionary New Research That Reveals the Secret to Long-term Happiness (Ballantine, 2010)

Read Whitbourne’s recent post, “Why We Love Betty White”, on Psychology Today.

It gives me great pleasure to tell you about my book, The Search for Fulfillment, which is the culmination of my life-long search for answers about what causes people to change in their adult years. As a young assistant professor, I dreamed of being able to chart the pathways of development by conducting a longitudinal study. Through a combination of good fortune and planning, and the willing cooperation of hundreds of participants, I was able to complete the study that forms the core of my book.

My goal in writing the book was to shed light on the myriad ways that people change through life while at the same time identifying systematic patterns to characterize that change. As one of the early pioneers in the pedagogy of adult development and aging, I also hope that my book will be a valuable supplement to college courses in the field. By giving students insight into the real changes that adults experience, the book will educate them about development in adulthood. The book also will illuminate the research process for students. My observations about the research participants form an important part of the book. The mystery and excitement that comes along with opening the questionnaires from participants tested 10, 20, and even 35 years earlier is captured in my personal reflections that accompany the stories of the people in my study.

As a scholar in this field, I have sought to educate readers about the importance of separating myths about midlife from the findings based on empirical data. Continue reading

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The Occult and the Making of American Religion

OCCULT AMERICA by Mitch Horowitz

by Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation (Bantam hardcover 2009, Bantam trade paperback October 2010).

In 1970, philosopher Jacob Needleman opened a new discussion about religion in America. His book The New Religions was one of the first scholarly works to consider esoteric and alternative religious movements not as oddball trends but as forces that reflected a serious and widespread search for meaning among young Americans.

A generation later, this discussion has been expanded by a broad range of mainstream religious scholars – from Catherine Albanese to Jeffrey J. Kripal to Ann Braude – who are transforming how we understand the nation’s alternative religious culture.  New Age or metaphysical movements are no longer viewed within academia as fringe oddities but as crucial aspects of our religious history. This line of study should be encouraged. Without it, we cannot fully understand the nature of America’s religious life. Continue reading

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