Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive

Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive

by Bruce Schneier
4.5 8

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Liars and Outliers: How Security Holds Society Together 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book explores how and why societies form, and the factors that by and large induce the cooperation that is part of civilization. The material on morality will certainly challenge those who believe in absolute morality; nonetheless, the book is extremely well written. Highlights: defections are expensive; the most successful parasite does not kill its host.
unclben More than 1 year ago
Why do I trust that my neighbor won't burgle my house while I'm at work, and why do others not have that luxury? How does society try to prevent Joe Badguy from laundering money, and how/why do the systems & pressures supposedly restraining Mr. Badguy sometimes fail or even become counterproductive? Those are the kind of questions Mr. Schneier asks and answers. I think of the book a little like the Freakonomics series. Take some simple aspects of everyday life, the kind of things most people have never given a second thought (or a first thought for that matter), and look at them through new-fangled x-ray glasses that allow you to see the underlying mechanisms. Freakonomics looks at economic incentives, while Liars and Outliers looks at the effects of trust and of the various formal and informal systems that [try to] enforce and engender trust, and punish and deter those who are untrustworthy. The main reason I'm rating the book 4 stars instead of 5 is that I don't think Liars and Outliers has the same broad appeal as a book like Freakonomics. That said, I'm not sure this is such a bad thing. Freakonomics is so broadly appealing, IMHO, because it picks and chooses case studies for maximum impact and entertainment. Liars and Outliers, in comparison, takes a wider view and explains entire systems from masthead to keel and stem to stern. This leaves it a little drier and less of a page-turner than it otherwise might have been, but also allows for a broader analysis than would be possible in the Freakonomics style. For anybody interested in security (computer, physical, societal, or any other type) at all, I wholeheartedly recommend Liars and Outliers. The same goes for anybody who is a sociology layman but enjoys learning about new angles from which to view society and our interactions. The one and only thing that I truly disliked about the book is the footnotes, or should I say the you-need-two-bookmarks-and-have-to-constantly-flip-back-and-forth-between-your-current-point-in-the-book-and-the-notes-all-bunched-together-at-the-very-end-of-the-book notes. I know that it was the publisher's choice and not Bruce's, but it is an abomination and it should be burned at the stake alongside unskippable pre-roll commercials on DVDs, homeopaths, and Madonna's remake of American Pie. Bruce, the next time your publisher suggests using this non-footnote-note arrangement in a book of yours, kindly put on your best Chuck Norris grimace (you have the beard already) and apply your foot directly to his face, roundhouse style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Schneier sets out to describe the social contract and how it applies to security, and does an excellent job with this compelling and well-written treatise.
phnx51 More than 1 year ago
The first chapters of Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive by Bruce Schneier, a book about the how and why of trust in today's world, were tough going but the balance of the book is well worth the effort. The work seems to be a psychological/sociological description and explanation of how trust comes to be. It seems to be a philosophical work as the author puts forth his ideas about how "defection" from the group expectations can be a positive and/or a negative - for example, people who ran the underground railway in the 1800s were defectors. The work is not a hands-on guide to developing security but is an excellent effort to investigate why we trust . . . trust that the piece of paper our employer gives us can be taken to the bank and exchanged for money or that the lost person at the door isn't really casing the house for a future break-in. As I said, the first chapters were difficult but the rest of the book became one it was difficult to put down. Fascinating.
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