The Invisible Gorila
A talent show is an event that participants perform their specific talents in order to win the first prize. Singing talent shows are quite popular lately because they don’t require participants to be in certain ages or professions. Talent shows are very entertaining so that people start to pay attention to them. In fact, in talent shows, not only contestants, but also judges and audiences, always project illusions. They misperceive something might not exist. In book The Invisible Gorilla, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons investigate six illusions that happen everyday in people’s lives.
They use a lot of examples and scientific experiments to explain how different illusions affect people and reveal that human being’s thoughts are suffered from illusions. Among those six illusions in the book, illusion of confident, illusion of knowledge and illusion of cause have the biggest effect in talent shows. Contestants experience the illusion of confidence because they have unjustified confidence in their own abilities and they are not aware of their lack of skills.
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Some contestants don’t have skills but they act very confidently.
Chabris and Simons state in Chapter 3, “In fact, those who are the least skilled are the most likely to think better of themselves than they should” (86). Least skilled contestants probably have never done anything relevant to music. They attend talent shows because they like singing or they want to be proved by aud iences. For example, in 2003, a student William Hung who was studying in civil engineering at Berkeley participated in “American Idol”. Since he couldn’t sing and dance, his performance was funny and everyone was making fun of him. However, he was very confident and he thought he was doing his best.
Indeed, when people are interested in something or just started doing something, they are more likely to feel confident because they don’t know much about it. Furthermore, least skilled contestants don’t realize their actual competence. They mistake their confidence as real competence. When performing on stage, they think that even though they have not been trained before, their personalities or appearance can draw audiences’ attention. When constantans experience illusion of confidence, they are so confident that neglect the fact that they don’t have abilities of performing.
Except for contestants, audiences experience illusion of confidence as well. Not acting confidently doesn’t mean a person has no ability. Yet sometimes audiences automatically treat confidence as a mark of actual competence of contestants. For example, when two contestants who have similar level of skills are performing on stage, audiences consider the one who looks more confident is better than the other. In 2007, there was a Taiwanese singing talent show called “One million Star. ” Jam Hsiao was one of those contestants and he was quiet when asked questions.
He told everyone that he wasn’t confident in communicating with other people. When audiences looked at Jam, they automatically thought Jam was not good at singing because he didn’t show his confidence in front of other people. Nevertheless, He became totally different while performing and his beautiful and powerful voice attracted everyone. Since audiences are prone to believing a person is not confident, which may give a contestant an unfair disadvantage, but later when proven wrong may give the contestant a bigger advantage due to audiences having to compensate for the contrasting information.
They become more likely to support contestants they doubt at the very beginning. Different with those least killed contestants, skilled ones experience the illusion of knowledge. People believe that they know things at a deeper level than they really do. Skilled contestants, who may have been trained for long time, have a lot of experience in performing in front of audiences. For instance, some of contestants who participate in “The Voice of China” went to musical universities before. As they said, they started learning musical instruments since they were kids and they have attended countless singing contests.
They consider themselves as knowledgeable contestants for they have much experience. Compared to least skilled contestants, skilled contestants participate in talent shows because they think they know much about how to utilize knowledge they have learned than those who don’t have many skills. Yet, knowing much about music doesn’t mean those skilled contestants can definitely win contestants. The illusion of knowledge makes them not be able to properly determine their value because they are more likely to approve their merits and ignore shortcomings.
Constantine Mouralis, who had a tony nomination before, participated in season four of “American Idol”. Constantine Mouralis started to improve his interest in music when he grew up. He sang in high school garage band and he appeared in Broadway roles. He was not only experienced, but also obtained a lot of awards before he competed on “American Idol. ” He thought his ability was good enough compared to other contestants but he was eliminated at the sixth week. Although Mouralis was very skillful, other contestants who are better than Mouralis win eventually.
In talent shows, judges project illusion of knowledge as well. Most judges are either famous singers or they are successful in the music industry. When they decide to choose the winner, they use their knowledge and experience to make decisions. They think the winner they choose will be successful after the show ends. Some contestants perform really well in talent shows and they fully show their talents to everyone and of course judges admit them too. After that, some of them are not famous due to all kinds of reasons.
Foe instance, record companies decide not to give winners opportunities to release albums or winner contestants realize they want to do something else instead of being a singer. Judges make judgments because they think they know more about entertainment system than anyone else. The illusion of knowledge makes talent shows become unfair because judges are subjective when they make judgments. People are more interested in talent shows because some of them think that talent shows give them opportunities to be a professional singer. Apparently, these people are having illusion of cause.
They infer causal relationships from coincidence. In entertainment system, parts of popular singers come from talent shows. They get a contract with record companies so that they can release albums after they win the talent show. Besides, since they are popular, they are invited to perform in many occasions. In fact, winning talent shows and becoming a famous singer are two different things so they have no causal relationships. However, people who want to participate in talent shows infer causal relationships from those coincidences.
They believe that if they attend talent shows, they might win the first prize and they have a high possibility to be a famous singer. However, not everyone who comes from talent shows becomes famous. For example, in 2007, the champion of singing talent show “Super Boy” was really good at singing and he released his first album afterwards. Unfortunately, he wasn’t popular and he never got the second chance to release other albums. Talent shows provide people opportunities to show their talents, but participating in talent shows and being famous have no causal relationships.
Sometimes, the reason why contestants win talent shows is not only because they are better than anyone else. For record companies who want to make money, they prefer pick up contestants who have good appearance than those who have talent in singing but don’t have beautiful faces. Thus, some factors which people think will cause contestants to win are not truly existed. Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons’s explanations make me think illusions that happened in my life. People are beset by all kinds of illusions every day without noticing their existence.
In talent shows, both skilled and least contestants have illusions since they are not able to determine their real abilities. People who win talent shows don’t mean that these people will be famous forever. On the contrary, people who failed in talent shows can still be successful. Besides, the reason why top singers and movie stars are famous is not only because talent shows give them opportunities to perform, other factors such as hard working and good luck can also be important for them.
We need to pay attention to different kinds of illusions because sometimes they affect our decision-making. If we like singing and want to make music, we don’t have to participate in talent shows because there are other ways for us to chase our dreams. After all, we should evaluate our abilities appropriately. If we are just interested in something but we don’t actually have talent in doing them, we should have find out something else we can do to fulfill our dreams.