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


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He has testified before Congress, is a frequent guest on television and radio, and is regularly quoted in the press. His blog and monthly newsletter at www.


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When we think about trust, our natural inclination is to think about personal relationships or bank vaults. That's too narrow.

Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive by Bruce Schneier

Trust is much broader, and much more important. Nothing in society works without trust.


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  • It's the foundation of communities, commerce, democracy? In this insightful and entertaining book, Schneier weaves together ideas from across the social and biological sciences to explain how society induces trust. He shows how trust works and fails in social settings, communities, organizations, countries, and the world. In today's hyper-connected society, understanding the mechanisms of trust is as important as understanding electricity was a century ago.

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    Issues of trust and security are critical to solving problems as diverse as corporate responsibility, global warming, and our moribund political system. After reading Liars and Outliers , you'll think about social problems, large and small, differently. Daniel J. Solove, professor, George Washington University Law School "Engaging, insightful, and thought-provoking, this book will alter how you think about security.

    A must read. It is well written and delightful to read.

    NEUMANN , Principal Scientist in the SRI International Computer Science Laboratory "Whether it's banks versus robbers, Hollywood versus downloaders, or even the Iranian secret police against democracy activists, security is often a dynamic struggle between a majority who want to impose their will, and a minority who want to push the boundaries.

    Liars and Outliers will change how you think about conflict, our security, and even who we are. Schneier shows that the power of humour can be harnessed to explore even a serious subject such as security. A great read! Clearly written, thoroughly interdisciplinary, and always smart, Liars and Outliers provides great insight into resolving society's various dilemmas. Liars and Outliers provides valuable new insights into security and economics. This is an essential exploration as society grows in size and complexity. Liars and Outliers explains the trust gaps we must fill to help society run even better.

    Intellectually rigorous and yet written in a lively, conversational style, Liars and Outliers will change the way you see the world. The best thing about this book, though, is that it's great fun to read. But his book is about much more than reducing risk. It is a fascinating, thought-provoking treatise about humanity and society and how we interact in the game called life. This is a must-read! Highly recommended. In Liars and Outliers, he sets out to investigate how trust works in society and in business, how it is betrayed and the degree to which technology changes all of that, for the better or the worse.

    Schneier absolutely understands how profoundly trust oils the wheels of business and of daily life. It looks at how and why security evolved, why it works the way it does, and -- this is the timely part -- what is it about the information society that changes everything.

    Guus Bosman

    Schneier will model the fundamental trade-off of societal security -- individual self-interest vs. Every society has a dishonest minority who breaks rules and doesn't follow group norms. They're not just the selfish; they include people with different morals. Security is how we protect ourselves from this dishonest minority within and what enables us to trust strangers at the local, national, and global scale. This engaging and highly readable book explains why security will always exist, and why we're all better off if it isn't perfect.

    It covers: Our evolved security systems and their unique role in facilitating and stabilizing human society. How our deliberately created security systems support modern, complex societies. Where security is breaking down, as computer and communication systems replace existing social systems, and as technology gives that dishonest minority more power. The value of the dishonest minority, and how it serves as a catalyst for social change.


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    Bruce Schneier is a world-famous security technologist, regularly consulted by media, business, and governments. For example, someone might break the trust for what they believe to be moral reasons, not for selfish or petty reasons. History shows us that those who defy the group norm can even become the catalysts for dramatic, and much needed, social change. In a police state, everybody is compliant but no one trusts anybody. A too-compliant society is a stagnant society, and defection contains the seeds of social change. On a micro level everyone defects sometimes.

    We are as complex as the society in which we live. We will agree with some societal norms and therefore cooperate in those moments, but at other times we may not agree and could defect. This is situational as well, we react differently when we are in desperate situations. We would all steal food if we had a starving family at home.

    Bruce Schneier - Privacy, Security & the Future - Interview

    Or maybe worse, in the case of a truly awful situation. We are far less likely to defect when all our needs are cared for. I mean this term to be general, comprising the number of defectors, the rate of their defection, the frequency of their defection, and the intensity the amount of damage of their defection. Sociologist Barbara Misztal identified three critical functions performed by trust:.

    It creates a sense of community, and 3. It makes it easier for people to work together. If the rate of defection is too high then these critical functions are not being met. As Charlie Munger likes to say , the highest form a civilization can reach is a seamless web of deserving trust. Since a healthy, thriving society requires a certain level of trust, we can attempt to nudge possible defectors into complying with the societal norms.

    The dilemma occurs when an individual has to make a choice between the group interest and their personal competing interest. The idea is that we can add societal pressure that can induce cooperation over selfishness in these types of situations. These are norms that are codified, and whose enactment and enforcement is generally delegated. This includes any security mechanism designed to induce cooperation, prevent defection, induce trust, and compel compliance. It includes things that work to prevent defectors, like door locks and tall fences; things that interdict defectors, like alarm systems and guards; things that only work after the fact, like forensic and audit systems; and mitigation systems that help the victim recover faster and care less that the defection occurred.

    The book goes on to explain these concepts in greater detail as well as taking a look back at the evolution of cooperation, trust, and security.

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    Schneier also tackles issues like the influence of technology and what the future will bring. Stop me if this sounds familiar. There is a person who toils alone for years in relative obscurity before finally cracking the code to become a hero. The myth of the lone genius.

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

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