Experimental Results: Liars and Outliers Trust Offer

Last August, I offered to sell Liars and Outliers for $11 in exchange for a book review. This was much less than the $30 list price; less even than the $16 Amazon price. For readers outside the U.S., where books can be very expensive, it was a great price.

I sold 800 books from this offer—much more than the few hundred I originally intended—to people all over the world. It was the end of September before I mailed them all out, and probably a couple of weeks later before everyone received their copy. Now, three months after that, it’s interesting to count up the number of reviews I received from the offer.

That’s not a trivial task. I asked people to e-mail me URLs for their review, but not everyone did. But counting the independent reviews, the Amazon reviews, and the Goodreads reviews from the time period, and making some reasonable assumptions, about 70 people fulfilled their end of the bargain and reviewed my book.

That’s 9%.

There were some outliers. One person wrote to tell me that he didn’t like the book, and offered not to publish a review despite the agreement. Another two e-mailed me to offer to return the price difference (I declined).

Perhaps people have been busier than they expected—and haven’t gotten around to reading the book and writing a review yet. I know my reading is often delayed by more pressing priorities. And although I didn’t put any deadline on when the review should be completed by, I received a surge of reviews around the end of the year—probably because some people self-imposed a deadline. What is certain is that a great majority of people decided not to uphold their end of the bargain.

The original offer was an exercise in trust. But to use the language of the book, the only thing inducing compliance was the morals of the reader. I suppose I could have collected everyone’s names, checked off those who wrote reviews, and tried shaming the rest—but that seems like a lot of work. Perhaps this public nudge will be enough to convince some more people to write reviews.

EDITED TO ADD (1/11): I never intended to make people feel bad with this post. I know that some people are busy, and that reading an entire book is a large time commitment (especially in our ever-shortened-attention-span era). I can see how this post could be read as an attempt to shame, but—really—that was not my intention.

EDITED TO ADD (1/22): Some comments.

Posted on January 11, 2013 at 8:10 AM150 Comments


Jon January 11, 2013 8:19 AM

OK, OK, thanks for the reminder. I just posted a positive review on Amazon and shared it on Facebook. Maybe others will be reminded to do the same (-;

Liar January 11, 2013 8:25 AM

The book only reached me in late November.

Since “results are in” one could surmise that there is no further need to honor the original agreement..?

Jon(A different Jon) January 11, 2013 8:28 AM

I’m still holding up my end of the bargain, I fall into the ‘busier than expected’ category, and haven’t finished it yet. I liked what I have had time to read.

Shelby January 11, 2013 8:28 AM

Alas, I’ve been deluged by work, and I’m halfway through. Some of us are just slow, I guess.

Freiheit January 11, 2013 8:30 AM

I feel shamed now. I do not have an outlet to publish my review. No blog and my social media profiles are not public.

I’ll post it here:
Liars and Outliers is an interesting read. It touches on security, sociology, and psychology. As a free standing read it was interesting and ok. I think this book would really benefit from being built into a college (or even high school) level course on sociology and psychology. Actually playing or acting out some of the scenarios would help clarify them.

I also found the notes format (with the notes at the end instead of as footnotes) extremely annoying. I read the notes and had to keep flipping. Publishers – stop doing this!

Its worth the Amazon price but not the cover price. It would be worth the cover price if it were paired with some interactive options (like some simulations of the hawk/dove game) or a classroom setting. Its hard to read and learn about interactions between people without interacting with people.

Petr January 11, 2013 8:32 AM

apologize for the delay – I also set myself the deadline of the end of the year, but was busier than expected. It is still on my to-do list, not thrown away.

Speed January 11, 2013 8:36 AM

Bruce Schneier … Do you believe that you received a positive return on your investment? Did the reviews sell more books? Did the feedback make you a better writer?

jmdesp January 11, 2013 8:39 AM

Are you here just doing a real life experiment to test the conclusions about social behavior that you have reached during the writing of “Liars and Outliers” ?

Mike January 11, 2013 8:42 AM

I had a feeling this whole thing was as much a test as it was pushing for getting reviews out there. Without going in to details, I’ll just say I’m in the “way busier than expected” camp and haven’t even had time to crack the cover. Soon. Probably.

Peter January 11, 2013 8:45 AM

Well, see, now the review I’ve been composing as I’m (slowly) reading has to be revised. I was already incorporating the effect that the deal had on my reading of it. That’s not a bad thing, but it does change what I had in mind to write.

Some of these responses bring up something that I don’t think the book covered — unintentional defection. The book focuses on the decision to defect and how societies moderate that.

I will say for now that I’m disappointed in the lack of Ghandi. I believe I was promised Ghandi in this book back when it was being titled. (An unintentional defection on Bruce’s part?)

David Kiger January 11, 2013 8:47 AM

I felt bad because it wasn’t until late October that I was able to finish it and write a review. Now I know that makes me a top performer!

Oh, and Freiheit, I’m glad to see someone else make the point of endnotes vs. footnotes. That’s one of my major annoyances with most research-related non-fiction.

Andrew Rose January 11, 2013 8:50 AM

There were some outliers. One person wrote to tell me that he didn’t like the book, and offered not to publish a review despite the agreement [no comment]. Another two e-mailed me to offer to return the price difference (I declined) [my emphasis].

I’m more interested in whether you accepted the offer not to a publish a negative review.

the only thing inducing compliance was the morals of the reader

…and what about the morals of the author?

David Clark January 11, 2013 8:50 AM

Eric Sink performed a similar exercise for his book “Version Control by Example”. People were allowed a free copy. Later on an email was sent asking for a review without any cost. I didn’t provide a review mainly because I don’t have a great deal of authority in the area. I use svn at work and his book focused on his tool. That is all I could compare.

Harvey MacDonald January 11, 2013 8:50 AM

Wow. I feel terrible. And I didn’t even get a copy of the book! (can I get one for free now?)

If it makes you feel better, the only books I have read in the past 5 years other than “Schneier on Security”, “Beyond Fear”, “Secrets and Lies”, and a/an (insanely brief) review of “Practical Cryptography” (let’s be frank, I didn’t understand any of it other than the outside cover) was the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. His books are more interesting than yours, but yours are probably more useful… for now.

In the meantime, I still consider you to be the foremost expert on all things security, and really wish you had more authority on US security policies. I bet the book is great.

Tony January 11, 2013 8:52 AM

I have a copy, and am about 1/3 of the way through it. I decided to read it slowly and deliberately, and only when I am in the frame of mind to absorb it. (Hardcover books should be savored, I suppose.) I’m also reading each footnote in-line. This has taken far longer than expected, but you will get your review! If it counts, I have discussed the contents with several friends and co-workers…

Peter January 11, 2013 8:52 AM

I like the notes. It’s info that Bruce thought wasn’t essential, and I didn’t feel I was “skimming” if I passed it up.

And I really like the copious references. I didn’t read them all, but whenever something was stated and I thought, “Wait, is there a source on this”, there invariably was. Eventually, I just trusted that everything was sources.

Peter January 11, 2013 8:56 AM

@Andrew Rose – “…and what about the morals of the author?”

Indeed, how much would a case of delayed shipping, for example, affect a readers’ sense of obligation? Or perhaps a blog post soured someone on Mr Schneier and they felt defecting was justified.

Curtis January 11, 2013 9:02 AM

I’m curious: What was your expected timeframe for the reviews to have taken place? Did you specify any such timeframe? (I did not find any in the original post linked above.)

I realize your intent of the offer was to sell more books. However, if you wanted people who took advantage of the offer to read and review it, say, before the end of the year, that should’ve been specified. It seems your frustration (if that’s what you’re expressing by this “reminder”) is based not only on the terms of the agreement you specified, but on unspecified terms as well.

I took advantage of the offer, and I don’t feel any shame at having not read or reviewed it yet. Of the 46 books I read in 2012, only 5 were published during year (and one of those was simply a newly released critical edition of something published two nearly hundred years ago). I rarely read brand-spanking-new books. I took advantage of the offer because 1) I want to read your book, 2) I intend to read your book, and 3) once I do, I will review it and provide a link to the review when I do, as specified in the offer.

But I’m chagrined that you seem to have expected me to do so in some ambiguous and unspecified timeframe. Your “trust” seems to be based on the whim of a specter.

I realize some will think I’m merely rationalizing my lack of having fulfilled the terms of the agreement yet. So be it. The agreement is what was agreed upon, not what one party later decides was the agreement based on unclear and unstated expectations.

Beth January 11, 2013 9:03 AM

I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I have not forgotten that I owe you a review. I’m sorry for the delay!

Jason January 11, 2013 9:04 AM

I took you up on the offer – mostly because I wanted a signed copy. I already bought and read the book when it was released, this was my second copy. I display it prominently in my office and have recommended it to my staff, co-workers and friends on many occasions.

Did I hold up my end of the deal? Apparently not, being a verbal advocate was not in the agreement. Buying two copies held no benefit to me personally.

So here is my review: As a long time security practitioner, I love the book. It’s insightful and I recommend it to everyone in the field. Thank you.

There, now do we both feel better?

Peter January 11, 2013 9:15 AM

@Curtis – good post, and I agree. At one point last year, I thought to myself, “Shoot, I haven’t finished that book. Was there a deadline?” And I looked it up, and no there wasn’t. Had there been, I’m confident I would have met it.

I suppose, though, that might have been closer to an institutional pressure — something of a contract, even if not a formal one.

This may be another step in the experiment. Moral pressure alone was the first step. Now we have another level of moral pressure — the eyeballs above the bagels. Bruce is watching, and he’s telling others what you did, albeit anonymously. I plan to have my review posted before the reputational part of the experiment begins (posting names of the defectors (I’m being facetious; I don’t think Bruce would do that)).

dl January 11, 2013 9:28 AM

I guess I am an outlier too, but I didn’t reply to your email. I haven’t finished the book, and I likely won’t.

Each chapter introduces a few interesting points, but then each was repetitively hammered home. I would find myself skimming through the paragraphs just to find out “what’s his next point”.

If you prefer, I can certainly go add another 2-star review to Amazon and send you a link, but I don’t think that’s fair to you since I have not finished the book.

Cristian January 11, 2013 9:38 AM

Great social experiment! And I immediately wandered how some kind of metaexperiment could be devised, to measure how such social experiments (including your so kindly mild shaming/reprimand) influence what I (probably inappropriately call) average level of conscience of the public. Yeah… rough task…

Curtis January 11, 2013 9:39 AM

@Peter – You may be right. For my part, I’m not concerned with defining the type of pressure Bruce is using now, vs. what type he used previously. If it’s an experiment, then he’s got his data, so, yay for him.

My point is that if he had an up-front expectation, then it should’ve been stated. If I’m an “outlier,” then what am I outlying from? Some date (or vague timeline…) that he had in his mind? How can there be any VALID pressure to enforce such an expectation, whether it be moral, institutional, or whatever?

(Maybe there’s something in the book that will answer this for me. If so, let’s all ponder the irony for a moment….)

For my part, the absence of a specified date is what made me feel okay with taking the offer in the first place, because I know that I’m the kind of guy who takes awhile to get around reading stuff. If he wanted a review by Dec. 31, 2012, I would’ve probably said to myself, “It’s a nice thought, but I’ll pass.” I don’t expect it to be years before I read and review it, but I knew it wouldn’t be right away. If right away was expected, it should’ve been stated so….

Catherine January 11, 2013 9:40 AM

Still reading it. I have no reliable mail service where I am, so only managed last month to pick it up from where I had it sent. I don’t review books until I read them all the way through, but I have verbally recommended it to over a dozen people since starting it.

I do plan on posting a review in several different places online once I have finished it, to make up for the delay.

Si January 11, 2013 9:51 AM

I didn’t take part in the offer but do intend buying and reading the book in future. If this was really a trust experiment, then surely it is fundamentally flawed by the lack of a specified deadline. I couldn’t agree more with Curtis.

Peter January 11, 2013 10:00 AM

@Curtis – “If I’m an “outlier,” then what am I outlying from?”

Yes, that is a key question. If this was an experiment from the outset, you’re right. People were under moral pressure to do…what, exactly? There might be an implied deadline, since a review of a book isn’t as useful a year after publication, but still, who’s to say four months is unreasonable versus two months or six months?

I do realize that responding to you using terms from the book doesn’t make sense when you say you haven’t read it yet, but I’m also posting for Bruce and the general audience here.

VO January 11, 2013 10:07 AM

Can I return the book somewhere for a refund? I never managed to get through it, so it’s near mint condition.

sevesteen January 11, 2013 10:12 AM

I wonder if some of this is based on the amount of reading an author is likely to do, vs most other people. It astounds me that some people take weeks or months to finish a book, and it astounds those people that I read several books per week.

Dinah January 11, 2013 10:20 AM

I suspect one of these may have been purchased by my wife for my birthday next month (unfortunately, I saw who a package was from). I intend to write a review on Amazon after I read it.

Peter January 11, 2013 10:20 AM

@sevesteen – I’m a painfully slow reader. I truly wish I wasn’t. My nightstand stack threatens to fall over and crush me in my sleep, and it grows faster than I can deplete it. It also tends to act as a true stack — first in, last out. New, impulse reads tend to trump older things, and even current reads (this is partly what happened with Liars & Outliers when a high-demand book I had reserved at the library became available. Dilemma: lose my spot on the list or delay (not defect — no agreed-upon deadline remember?)

StevieY43 January 11, 2013 10:26 AM

Should have guessed this would be a social experiment. It took me until the new year to get to the book in my queue, but I’m happy to write a review now after reading part 1. Or I can wait until finishing it as I originally planned.

Jonathan January 11, 2013 10:28 AM

I must admit that I fall into the 91% category of not holding up on the agreement. I simply haven’t had the chance to make it though the book yet. It’s been sitting on my nightstand since getting it, but hasn’t moved much yet.

With no agreed deadline to publishing a review, I don’t necessarily feel that I haven’t held up my end of the bargin. I still plan on reading it and writing a review when completed. Until that changes, I would simply say that it’s and incomplete exchange and not a breaking of the agreement.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:30 AM

“Since ‘results are in’ one could surmise that there is no further need to honor the original agreement..?”

My hope is that people still will.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:31 AM

“Alas, I’ve been deluged by work, and I’m halfway through. Some of us are just slow, I guess. –Outlier?”

Seems like not. A lot of people are slow. I didn’t expect that, but — thinking back — I had no factual basis for believing in any particular reading timeframe.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:33 AM

“I feel shamed now.”

That was not my attention, and I apologize. When I used the word in my post, I was thinking more about posting a list of people who didn’t review that book. Now that would be shaming. And it’s not something I am going to do. I’m not even keeping a record.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:36 AM

“Do you believe that you received a positive return on your investment? Did the reviews sell more books? Did the feedback make you a better writer?”

To the first two questions: I honestly don’t know. It’s hard to determine what publicity results in what sales. The point of the exercise was less an investment and more a desire to get the book out there. I consider the 800 people who bought the book to be a good thing, regardless of the resulting reviews.

And I expected some “breakage.”

To the last question: not really. The best feedback for me is detailed feedback before publication. General feedback after publication is usually too broad-brushed to be useful. But reading reviews is good for me; I like knowing what resonates with my readers and what annoys them.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:38 AM

“I also found the notes format (with the notes at the end instead of as footnotes) extremely annoying. I read the notes and had to keep flipping. Publishers – stop doing this!”

I hate this too. I really hate notes that aren’t even mentioned in the main body of a book. (If you think it’s annoying with a paper book, try reading an e-book that does this. Impossible.) But it’s the style.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:40 AM

“What was your expected timeframe for the reviews to have taken place? Did you specify any such timeframe?”

I did not have one, and I didn’t specify any. Clearly I assumed that people would read the book faster than they are. Apologies for that.

Mike E January 11, 2013 10:41 AM

Just recently started it, and I admit, it was slow going at the start. It will probably be a while before I get it finished…

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:42 AM

“‘I asked people to e-mail me URLs for their review.’ Oops, must have missed that one. It was not mentioned in the blog post.”

I said in the e-mail.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:45 AM

“I plan to have my review posted before the reputational part of the experiment begins (posting names of the defectors (I’m being facetious; I don’t think Bruce would do that)).”

No. I would not do that. That’s way out of proportion.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:47 AM

“Can I return the book somewhere for a refund? I never managed to get through it, so it’s near mint condition.”

I’d rather you just keep it. But if you’re really dissatisfied, I will refund your money.

Michael Chermside January 11, 2013 10:54 AM

I am one of those people who was given a copy of the book and who has not yet written a review or even responded. I’ll try to avoid excuses and just describe my situation as one case study.

I received the book with the absolute intention of writing a review. I started reading it and am about half-way through. It has been a very close reading (I have notes scribbled in the margin on nearly every page). However, I have spent very little time reading it — that’s why I’m only about half-way through.

Observing my own mental state, I was excited about the project at first, but then as a good deal of time went by without my posting a review, I started to feel guilty about it. I decided that I would set myself a deadline of the end of the year (2012), and that if I had not finished the book and written the review by then, that I would write to Bruce and apologize, then offer to purchase a copy of the book to donate it to a library. I note that it is now 11 days into the new year and I have still not written this note.

I observe that my guilt levels have not really risen since reading this posting from Bruce. Instead, I mostly find it ammusing. I an re-invigorating my good intentions to finish the book and write the review. We’ll see whether that happens or not.

Lally Singh January 11, 2013 10:56 AM

Mind publishing a histogram of response latencies? I’m interested in seeing how long it takes people to get the book read.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 10:57 AM

“I’m more interested in whether you accepted the offer not to a publish a negative review. the only thing inducing compliance was the morals of the reader …and what about the morals of the author?”

I told him he should decide for himself. Of course I prefer positive reviews. But the point of a review is that it is not edited or curated by me, so it felt wrong to ask him not to publish it.

Andrew January 11, 2013 10:58 AM

I think for the second edition of the book you could write a whole chapter on how this blog post was responded to!

Daniel Taylor January 11, 2013 10:58 AM

I’m about a third of the way through it myself.

It’s a very dense read, and quite thought provoking.

Peter January 11, 2013 11:00 AM

“No. I would not do that. That’s way out of proportion.”


Seriously, I never for a second thought you would do something that’s against everything you stand for.

Still, it’s an interesting thought experiment in the context of the book. It’s something you (or, if you prefer, a hypothetical different author offering a similar deal) could do — or threaten to do — as a reputational pressure. However, there’s a reflective reputational pressure back on the author. If one deals harshly with defectors in one’s dealings, others may decline to participate in future deals. Even if the author is seen as in the right, it hurts him to be, as you say, “out of proportion”.

See, I did read and absorb. I’m in the final section and already had plans to finish it this weekend.

Bryan January 11, 2013 11:01 AM

Hey Bruce,

I’m one of the sample of people who have not finished reading the book and I will definitely post my review once I have.

So far, at about 1/2 way through the actual content, the book is completely fascinating. I have already referred to its contents in multiple conversations.

I’m an avid but slow reader and I am easily distracted. I have jumped around from book-to-book quite a bit and haven’t made it back to this one in a while. I’ll make it a point to get back to this book again tonight.

dbCooper January 11, 2013 11:03 AM

My discounted L&O copy, along with some other materials, went missing during a trip I took back in October.

Be assured I will order a replacement and complete my side of the bargain.

Dan January 11, 2013 11:18 AM

I bet the delay between the deal and the book arriving affected the response rate. In my case, I planned to read the book on an upcoming vacation, but it didn’t arrive until after the vacation. I haven’t been able to start it yet.

Frank Ledo January 11, 2013 11:21 AM

I am on the 4th chapter of the book. I will post a review when I finish. I had hoped I would finish it sooner but life happens.

Of course, as the days go by the value of the review may diminish. I do feel as if I should pay the difference.

The biggest learning from this experiment may be to set a deadline in order to create a sense of urgency.

TesTeq January 11, 2013 11:28 AM

Everybody likes cheap books. But to write a review? Too much trouble. To keep gentleman agreement? Too much trouble.

Bruce, don’t apologize. Nobody was forced to accept your great offer. You fulfilled your promise so should they.

Gordon Haff January 11, 2013 11:34 AM

Speaking for myself (who did not take advantage of this), I get contacted by PR folks on a fairly regular basis wondering if I’d like a review copy of a book. I only say yes if I have good intentions of reading and reviewing it on my blog–in practice, I confess, I have just a middling track record in holding up my end of the bargain. I don’t really feel guilty about it though because I know lots of book review copies go out with the full expectation that only some will end up reviewed. Arguably a somewhat different situation, but at least related.

Mike B January 11, 2013 11:36 AM

After your first book giveaway caused a riot at the 2012 RSA Conference what made you expect a better result this time around 😉

Arvid Grøtting January 11, 2013 11:49 AM

I actually posted an extremely short review – on Twitter. Weirdest format ever. And I never even suspected, as I should have, that I was the subject of an experiment!

Natanael L January 11, 2013 11:52 AM

Hey, whats the percentage of submitted reviews per country?

Now that’s actually one of the more interesting available statistics available (except for that latencies thing, which also could be per country).

And regarding my own review: I’m on page 49 in the book. The review has been started. I’ll post it when I feel it’s done.

Dan Z January 11, 2013 12:07 PM

Oddly, I actually was just thinking about this earlier today; I’ve had various personal commitments and such arise since I got the book and haven’t even had the time to open it yet, but I do – and always did – fully intend to post a review once I read it…

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 12:10 PM

“After your first book giveaway caused a riot at the 2012 RSA Conference what made you expect a better result this time around ;-)”

About that…. Akamai has purchased 1500 copies of the book to give away at RSA this year.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 12:11 PM

“I actually posted an extremely short review – on Twitter. Weirdest format ever.”

I think Twitter reviews count.

Bruce Schneier January 11, 2013 12:12 PM

“Hey, whats the percentage of submitted reviews per country?”

I’m just not keeping that level of data.

Clive January 11, 2013 12:15 PM

I wanted a cheap copy, but didn’t request one because I know that I’ll only review a book if I feel I have something worthwhile to say. I didn’t want to feel obligated to post some bland “hey, this book is really good” somewhere.

If defectors from this kind of scheme ever became a genuine problem (rather than an interesting side-show) I’d say an obvious solution would be to sell at full price and give a rebate if you publish a review. Though I guess that creates a perverse incentive for people who don’t like it – and therefore value it less – to be disproportionately keen to get the rebate.

Alpha Chen January 11, 2013 12:39 PM

I’m one of those, although my reason for not reviewing is pretty stupid – I didn’t update my address on PayPal, so it went to my old address and I just haven’t been able to retrieve it yet. Hopefully I’ll be able to do so and live up to my end of the bargain!

John January 11, 2013 1:07 PM

I still intend to post a review. I first read the book on kindle a few months before the review-offer; when I got the autographed book, I gave it to a friend since I didn’t need it. But I felt I needed to re-read the book to give it a fair review, and that has taken a while.

Mike January 11, 2013 1:11 PM

9%? Isn’t that better than the average percentage of eligible voters voting in primaries in the US? What rate of response were you expecting? Self-selecting populations tend to produce higher rate of response compared to random samplings, and 9% sounds kind of low, but what is this population compared against: professional book reviewers? Paid content providers? Question: what is the perceived value of a discounted book vs. the labor cost of producing a serious review (assuming the majority of participants intended to provide a review in return)? I’ll bet there is a dramatic drop off in the perceived value over time.

Prohias January 11, 2013 1:12 PM

I am a late reviewer, and will be able to review (accurately) perhaps only by Match or so. I read your blog every few days – and probably read 80% of your posts completely.

The book is of general interest to me, but not something that I would read cover-to-cover quickly only because of the nature of the subject and its appeal to me. I have taken it on all my long flight journeys but I don’t travel enough to finish it sooner. On the other hand, if you made this offer, say, with Practical Cryptography, I would have forced myself to read it much faster than I otherwise would have!

Your 9% will be much higher, I think, if you give people more time. Would love to see where we all are after 1 year.

(Late reviews still help with book sales of this nature).

aaron January 11, 2013 1:19 PM

Late reader here, apologies. I felt quite privileged to get a signed copy at a discount so it has made me feel guilty for not getting through it sooner. I’m also interested in how long you chose to wait before posting your preliminary results as an important part of your experiment. I’ll try to move through it, but I hope you will post what effect your reminder has had at some point in the future.
Thank you again.

Brian January 11, 2013 1:34 PM

I never forgot about leaving a review (things like this tend to haunt me until I do them), I was just ambivalent towards the idea. I know that I implicitly agreed to write a review in exchange for the cheap book (thank you, by the way), and my word is something I stand by… but you’ve done me a kindness by offering the book at the low price, signed no less, and I don’t feel I would be doing you a kindness in turn by leaving the review.

I wasn’t really satisfied with the book (it wasn’t “bad,” it just wasn’t what I was expecting). I also don’t have a blog/website, don’t do much social media, etc. so Amazon would be my only recourse.

So I found myself in a bit of a Catch-22. Do I go back on my word, or do I leave a review that isn’t glowing? I chose the latter. While /you/ might feel more betrayed by this choice, /I/ feel that I have done you less wrong.* Since you posted about it, this obviously concerns you, so I’ll put a review up on Amazon. Three stars isn’t the end of the world, surely. Thanks again.

*Of course, I don’t consider leaving a falsely positive review to be an option.

Carl 'SAI' Mitchell January 11, 2013 1:37 PM

I chose not to take advantage of the offer because I knew I’d not be able to write a review. It makes me wonder what portion of the population who saw the offer did the same.

Alan Porter January 11, 2013 1:38 PM

Heck, I paid full price for the e-book as soon as it came out (primarily as a way to support an author whose work I appreciate). The book is still sitting in my reading queue.

Ben F. January 11, 2013 1:46 PM

I’m one of those late reviewers; haven’t finished yet. It didn’t grab me enough to finish it in a week, and with no deadline, it just gets pushed back. It would be interesting to see if the number of reviews spike after this entry, though, I’m afraid mine will be quite a bit later. I’m not sure how I’d approach the review yet; probably state the deal, and knowing the deal, it would bias me to be critical. I think the book does what you intend it to do, but there’s nothing that has surprised me yet. I wouldn’t say for sure until I finish, though.

Scott David Daniels January 11, 2013 1:53 PM

I’ve bought, read, and loved the book (though not for review or via some other offer). I’ve purchased and given three other copies so far to people in order to spark larger conversations. Of the three, only one came through with interesting responses, but that one made the whole effort worth it.

Josh January 11, 2013 2:32 PM

I am another recipient who’s busy, but trying to read deliberately and thoroughly in order to provide a quality review. I haven’t forgotten!

Johnston January 11, 2013 3:12 PM

I’m reading it now, but was unaware you had this Trust Offer (must have missed that post). Now I feel like such a dove for intending to write a review without getting an $11 autographed copy. Makes me want to be a hawk.

I’m loving the book, btw. It’s giving me ideas for how to approach a problem I’ve been having with some free riders.

Adam Stovicek January 11, 2013 3:48 PM

I’m another one of the 800 who has pledged a review and just not had the time. Not from a lack of trying. I made up for the price difference, I believe, by purchasing an eBook copy as well which I began reading shortly after receiving the autographed copy. I made it through the first chapter and, as usual, got distracted with other things and haven’t gotten back to it.

Peter January 11, 2013 3:49 PM

“I am another recipient who’s busy, but trying to read deliberately and thoroughly in order to provide a quality review. I haven’t forgotten!”

Ironically, I think the nature of the deal has led to some of the perceived defection. For me and some others here, it has lead to a slower, more deliberate reading. I owe a review, and I want it to be a quality review, not a three sentence blurb. As I read, I’m thinking carefully about the takeaways of each chapter. So I’m reader slower than I already would have. And I will probably take a couple of evenings to carefully compose the review rather than firing it off in ten minutes.

spence January 11, 2013 3:50 PM

Bruce, its sitting in my read stack, and its next. It will be reviewed upon my completion, which I anticipate to be late february. Thank you for the offer!

Jon January 11, 2013 3:50 PM

I didn’t take part in the offer though I would have if I had seen it. I expect I would not have written a review.

I have a stack of maybe 20 books on my nightstand, purchased within the last couple years, as yet unread. I simply buy way more books than I ever read. And I enjoy having a selection of new stuff to pick from on a whim and dive in.

With a timed offer like yours I would have got just because it looked interesting enough and maybe I’d even read it eventually.

I also wouldn’t consider myself not in compliance because your post says, “after you read the book” — there’s no hurry to read it or even a promise to ever read it.

Scurvy January 11, 2013 4:00 PM

Here’s an interesting question for you Bruce. How do you feel about your books being available as pirated epub and pdfs on the internet? A quick search on a site I frequently use for downloading books (link to said site not posted because I don’t want anyone to think this is spam and I’m not trying to aid and abet more people to “steal” books) and I was able to locate your latest work. Does the simple fact that it’s out there for free and people are downloading it offend you ? Are you more just happy to see that people want to read the book, whether or not they can afford it? Are you in the “downloading X work steals from me” camp? Or are you in the “people who downloaded X work probably wren’t going to drop the money anyways and at least people are interested in reading it, despite me not being paid” camp?

Now that I’ve admitted to downloading the book, would you like a review of it upon completion? Would that make my actions forgivable? Can we still be friends?

Larry January 11, 2013 4:12 PM

I bought the book for full price and haven’t read it yet. Any of it.

What would be interesting is if you could get an assistant to contact the people who didn’t write a review and offer them a psychological amnesty if they would care to answer a few questions as far as why they didn’t write the review. Although I suspect (I’ve only scanned the above comments) you know the answers. But it would be interesting to see how many people percentage wise reply to that question.

T. last- January 11, 2013 4:52 PM

My review WITHOUT READING THE BOOK. (to average of my ability, legal disclaimers).

1.)did NOt take the offer
2.)maybe next time, THREATEN to publish the
names and email addresses of ‘alleged cheaters.’
4.)write a book review for every BOOK; regardless
of the ‘price/cost/money forward/etc.’
5.)Hey Mr. S. here are the facts of life (as I know it
at this time! – and I could be inaccurate or even
a.)people go with the herd; see the film Matrix;
or read the security book called ‘Animal Farm.’
Yes, I am writing a book based on Animal Farm
with code (fox behavior?).
b.)people buy your book because YOU ARE YOU.
So, the book is CHEAP. It is something I would
carry at a proper ‘security conference’ as a prop
to encourage conversation. PAPER books are
‘deadweight’ and difficult to move when changing
c.)people see MOVIES because of NAME ACTORS
and the ‘publicity.’ Similarly, people buy the book
because of your name. Likely the blog, which is
FREE has MUCH MORE VALUE for a interested
‘professional’ but not expert.
d.)THE KEY REASON to buy the Mr. S products including books is:
disagree with Noam Chomsky? personally dislike him. Still he is an acknowledged expert.
He is controversial (that is good). He appears to
be truthful (appearances can deceived). AND
he writes COGENTLY and with ‘common sense’
about far ranging subjects.
Analogy with Mr. S??
e.)The BOOK MODEL; the publishing model;
the idea/meme models are perhaps slightly BUSTED.

f.)without doing proper research and I could be
mistaken the books fails/succeeds by
a.)expert writing for expert – ?
b.)expert writing for midlevel – good
c.)expert writing for beginner – no
always provide a test before, during AND AFTER
to show beginner need remedial course BEFORE
buying the book.
d.)midlevel writing for midlevel – this is the
e.)beginner writing for beginner – let’s face it
most will NEVER even try FreeBSD or OpenBSD
or even PC BSD. let alone hardened Gentoo LInux,
etc. and yes, I find it hard even with degree, interest, work experience, etc.

f.)WILLING TO PAY 11 for the book, but 21 dollars
perhaps for the continuing ERRORS AND OMISSIONS and changes.
g.)’common sense’ ain’t so common – Will Rogers.
why promise something to a noted AUTHORITY
like Mr. S. in a field like security where TRUST
is important and even risk the threat of HAVING
YOUR NAME SHAMED????????????

conclusion: be thankful that so few wrote the
review. And perhaps when I write my book,
I will make the same offer but ONLY to:
a.)Paris Hilton – who had her cellphone CRACKED
and her NO CLOTHES pictures of her friends leaked to the internet. Maybe some of her
‘former friends’ are not so happy with her?
b.)other females who will agree to CARRY THE
BOOK IN PUBLIC and write the review.
Most females in USA are interested in security,
especially at night in a deserted parking lot, I would say.

Clive Robinson January 11, 2013 4:59 PM

@ Clive,

Hi, just a litle request, can you please add the initial of your surname or your full surname or nickname or whatever as without it, it can cause confusion not just for other people on the blog but for me as well.

With that said hopefully on this thread atleast people will be able to tell us apart.

I admit I’m one of the speed readers of Bruce’s book, in that when time alowed I read the body (not the footnotes etc) over a weekend. I’ve also hunted out some of the refrences that I’ve not read before.

And no I’ve not written a review (I bought my copy prior to the offer) even though one or two people other than Bruce have asked me to.

I think I’d better explain why but it’s a little complicated so hang in there.

Firstly normaly the only books I review for people are genenraly in a domain I have sufficient experience in to feel as though I can make a qualified opinion. As Bruce’s book is the first of it’s kind and pulls a large number of formaly independent (but related) threads together I obviously don’t feel I have sufficient qualifications to comment on quite a few asspects of the book.

Secondly I don’t happen to like one of the two basic tools Bruce has used. I need to say from the start this is not a fault on Bruce’s part it’s the right tool to use as an introduction to the ideas and test basic hypotheses, but it is not the right tool to do a more indepth analysis (which I sincearly hope Bruce will go on and write). In this respect the tool is a little like Newton’s laws of motion compared to Einstein’s later efforts 🙂

The problem with the tool is it models staticaly with time (ie always produces the same result each and every time with the same starting conditions). It’ not dynamicaly over time (ie the result changes with what is learnt from previous results). That is you don’t realy have the time delayed and changed behaviour you get in real life with hiher level organisms where the object being modeled changes it’s behaviour based on the response of others to it’s earlier behaviour.

To look at it another way it assumes a hawk with a pre-programed behaviour more akin to a spider or lower order life form (single cell) than a real hawk that learns from it’s past behaviour fairly rapidly.

That is the result you get is a first order response to any change in input which is in effect just an integrator with a variable delay and gain (/antenuation) in the output. Which is what you need to repeatedly run tests to find an optimum filtered response to a single set of events. But it is not what you want if you want to perform dynamic tests which might show up cyclic/oscillatory behaviour with amplitude response not being anything other than a single power law etc. To do this you need to close the loop and have both positive and negitive feedback and feed forward. Unfortunatly such models can be unstable in use are not particularly intuative in use and need a fair amount of computing power.

Now from my view point I happen to think the book is the wrong size, it’s a little to long for a basic introduction but to short for the ideas to be more thoroughly investigated.

Whilst this might sound like a critisism, it’s not ment to be. The problem is we are not dealing with an established field of endevor so time has not taught us what the necessary minima is for an introductory text. This puts constraints on Bruce due to what a publisher thinks may or may not be right, and to some extent getting the publishers idea of a “first claim” on a new field of endevor in a timely manner.

If you look at another field of endevor started shortly befor this by Ross J Anderson of “security economics” you will see the same self problem.

What Bruce has written is upto his usual standards, in fact actually better all things considered. He has had to pick and chose not just what to explain but alsso within the constraints of a work in an untested area. He has to be able to engage not just the minds of serious researchers but more importantly those who are only mildly curious and lead them on into what is actually a quite fascinating area to think about. That is it needs to be set at that transition point from college to undergraduate, which Bruce appears to have done nicely.

It is an enjoyable read, but not for bedtime or public transport reading, you need to have a fresh and relaxed mind and have a comfortable and stress free environment to do it in, along with a pencil and paper and an Internet connected computer to chase down more scholarly works in the refrences.

So as it’s in effect a first of it’s kind there are no domain benchmarks to rate it against but when judging against other first of their kind books in other recently started new domains it is rather more aproachable to the average reader so on a five star rating I’d put it up at four or above.

NotALiar January 11, 2013 5:06 PM

Be patient, dude. Given the close to two month delay between my payment and your shipping, the book missed my summer reading window. May be next summer before I get to it.

Ryan January 11, 2013 6:17 PM

I’m another of those late reviewers. I’ve been stuck about halfway through the book ever since things got busy at work, though I confess that I would have finished by now if there had been a hard deadline.

Andrew J. Caines January 11, 2013 6:29 PM

Another slow reader reporting in.

Currently on page 186 and enjoying the book so far, apart from the notes at the back rather than at the foot of the page where they belong.

Review will follow.

Wael January 11, 2013 6:30 PM

@ Bruce,

I ordered the book, read about 20 pages or so of it. I lost it somewhere during my travel. So I ordered a kindle edition the day before yesterday. No excuses here, my fault for losing it (or having it stolen from my desk). I will uphold my end of the agreement, just need sometime. How about three weeks from today? Acceptable?

Out-lier # 789

Bob Foster January 11, 2013 6:43 PM

Contrast your approach with what happens when you agree to do a technical review of a book for an actual publisher. First, they will try to make you sign a contract in return for some minuscule stipend they may or may not pay at some far future time. Second, they will establish a regular schedule for chapter reviews. Third, they will constantly (and cheerfully) nag you with schedule reminders, etc. for the life of the project.

I think the old management adage has an application here: Trust, but verify.

Bruce Clement January 11, 2013 6:49 PM

@Carl ‘SAI’ Mitchell

I’m in a similar position. I decided not to take Bruce Schneier up on the offer because I know my book reading habits well enough to know in advance that while I might read the book quickly, I was more likely to finish reading the book some time after the copies that didn’t sell as “remainers” were pulped.

Although it wouldn’t be as objective a measure as counting those who received the book and haven’t done a review yet, it would be interesting to know how many others declined the offer because they knew or strongly suspected they wouldn’t publish a review in a reasonably short time.

sms January 11, 2013 7:29 PM

From what I can see $11 for “ANY” book is too much .. considering 90%+ of the “value” of your technology is being generated by the work of FSF .. open source etc. etc.

I don’t think most people who bought the book for $11 saw it anything but a technique to sell more books .. (which it actually was .. getting more reviews .. more sales etc. . you want it to be exponential function .. but it just is a normal linear .. oye wei)

ben January 11, 2013 7:55 PM

I am one of the people who took the offer and has yet to review the book, and I don’t see this as a shaming attempt at all. I just hope that once I do finish the book and write my review you won’t think I only did it because of this post. 🙂

-B January 11, 2013 8:28 PM

As one who received this “gift”, I chose not to write a review in some venue that would have marginal impact on either potential new readers. Instead, I donated it to the Management of a major federal 3-letter Administration with the agreement from the Manager I gave it to, to read it, consider it’s material, and pass it on to another Manager with the same agreement.

My hope is that it will end up with a much more significant impact than a review by an unknown (me) in a venue of questionable significance (web forum, etc.).

A “pay it forward” viral effort.

-B January 11, 2013 11:37 PM

From what I can see $11 for “ANY” book is too much .. considering 90%+ of the “value” of your technology is being generated by the work of FSF .. open source etc. etc.

I don’t think most people who bought the book for $11 saw it anything but a technique to sell more books .. (which it actually was .. getting more reviews .. more sales etc. . you want it to be exponential function .. but it just is a normal linear .. oye wei) <

Regardless of your rationalizations, it was bought at the discount knowing the expectation. Buying without any intent of of letting others know about it seems (at least) disingenuous. My “pay it forward” meets the intent (IMO) and more since the 3-letter agency deals with the traveling public and the management of my business line could (possibly) affect security practices within IT.

Framework4 January 11, 2013 11:56 PM

I did not take you up on this offer because I find your writing on these type of topics requires me to read a little, think about it and come back and read some more.

It is not like a novel that one reads over a couple of days, your writing requires us to stop and use our brains.

That said a 9% response rate is huge in publishing terms.

mcb January 12, 2013 12:33 AM


I am unrepentant and remain committed to the bargain. I planned to read 40 books in 2012 (I managed 39).

    Liars and Outliers

was added to my the list as a result of your generous promotion. You got close one night, as I dithered between it or Bultmann’s

    Kerygma and Myth

, but I defaulted to NetFlix and watched Battleship Potempkin for the first time instead of starting either.

    Liars and Outliers

will be the first non-fiction I start in 2013. There are a finite number of books we will have time to read; get started.

Details here http://eclecticbreakfast.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-best-of-intentions.html

Stateless January 12, 2013 1:56 AM

Next time offer an option where I can pay a premium to get the book but not be required to write a review and I’ll go with that, I’m happy to pay more and if I could pay by bitcoin that would be even better.

Secure January 12, 2013 2:40 AM


“I said in the e-mail.”

Was it the very first task in the mail, better yet the very first sentence? You know, most people don’t do the tasks (or even read) beyond this. If you want them to do multiple tasks, write separate mails for each. 😉

Erica January 12, 2013 3:49 AM

I didn’t take advantage of the offer because I knew I would not have the time to write a review.

Do people like myself outnumber the 700 or so who (so far) have done the opposite?

To get accurate trust statistics, it’d help to know.

VO January 12, 2013 3:54 AM

Isn’t it ironic that shipping (some of) the books was massively delayed? I am sure there were valid reasons – same as with everyone who was late with their reviews.

Dylan January 12, 2013 5:00 AM

I’ve actually got two copies, a review copy, and an e-book version. I prefer the e-book for physical reasons, and find the notes work well with it (despite what was mentioned above.)

Despite having two copies, I haven’t finished the book yet, which is why I haven’t reviewed it.

Miguel Farah January 12, 2013 10:16 AM

Well, I considered taking up the offer, but chose not to, because I knew I’d probably end up not doing the review. I wonder how many others were in the same position?

-B January 12, 2013 1:04 PM

I also got an initial release (autographed) copy for myself. The crypto code had me scratching my head for a bit.

bob January 12, 2013 2:02 PM

Freiheit said “I also found the notes format … extremely annoying .. Publishers – stop doing this!”

Plus 1.

bob January 12, 2013 2:05 PM

Heavy books can take a while to get through, especially if one reads a lot.

I’ve been reading “Godel, Escher, Bach” for over a year now…

trapspam.honeypot January 12, 2013 8:32 PM

I feel bad that I did not take up your offer on your latest book. Since reading Secrets and Lies I have developed macular degeneration in both eyes and have difficulty reading print copy. I have had about five years of Avastin injections that have prevented permanent blindness. No complaints there.

Jeff Day January 13, 2013 12:30 AM

I got the book through this offer and haven’t finished it yet. I’m about 1/3 of the way in, but other technical books keep cropping up that take precedence because of prior commitments.

Chris January 13, 2013 7:18 PM

I paid full price because I knew I wouldn’t get round to writing a review.
If I had still been a poor student I probably would have taken the offer and felt the tiniest pang of remorse.

John January 13, 2013 8:15 PM

You may have intended to perform an experiment in trust, but I reckon you inadvertently performed one in our inability to predict in advance how motivated we will be to perform some task in the future.

You’ve found the same thing that gets found when people are asked which of a highbrow versus a fun movie people will watch some time in the future. And so on.

Jackie January 14, 2013 1:54 AM

Reviews are often confused with book reports.

Given that there are several comprehensive reviews already available people need not write long, involved essays.

I didn’t buy a book direct, I missed the offer. I read it first at my online library (paid subscription). And then ordered a hard copy elsewhere. Great book.

Stanislav GE January 14, 2013 6:12 AM

Here’s an interesting question for you Bruce. How do you feel about your books being available as pirated epub and pdfs on the internet? A quick search on a site I frequently use for downloading books (link to said site not posted because I don’t want anyone to think this is spam and I’m not trying to aid and abet more people to “steal” books) and I was able to locate your latest work. Does the simple fact that it’s out there for free and people are downloading it offend you ? Are you more just happy to see that people want to read the book, whether or not they can afford it? Are you in the “downloading X work steals from me” camp? Or are you in the “people who downloaded X work probably wren’t going to drop the money anyways and at least people are interested in reading it, despite me not being paid” camp?

I have downloaded this book too. I never buy “copies” on Amazon or wherever. But this book is realy good! I would like say “thank you” and to pay, but, as I already said, not for Amazon or whatever. Any way to proceed?

Brian January 14, 2013 8:06 AM

I’m another of the unintentional defectors that failed to provide a review. I could sob story about all that’s come up in the meantime, but please know I’m still intending to do so. I’m about 40% of the way through and also reading the notes inline (and I strongly second – or third – the requests to publishers to not do this!)

DF January 14, 2013 11:00 AM

I am also one of the slow/busier with other things readers and just haven’t finished the book yet but I will post a review as soon as I finish it.

Random832 January 14, 2013 11:32 AM

One person wrote to tell me that he didn’t like the book, and offered not to publish a review despite the agreement.

I think this is the most interesting thing in this post, because it suggests the offer was interpreted – even if it was not intended that way – as a discount in exchange for a positive review. It makes me wonder how many other people interpreted it that way.

There’s a possible parallel to this in laws which make it illegal to offer to pay someone to vote, even without specifying which way to vote.

RH January 14, 2013 1:17 PM

9% eh?

Would that make those who complied the outliers?

I didn’t take the offer, but some feedback: I’m actually struggling a bit through the early parts of the book. The early chapters offered me no new information (I’m a long-time follower, so most of the overarching arguments one makes in early chapters of a book are old news), but was speckled with terms that I knew I had to learn to be comfortable in the rest of the book. The net result was that I felt like I was studying a textbook, cramming for a quiz next morning. Reading has gotten more comfortable as the analysis became more detailed, in a strange sort of way.

Z.Lozinski January 14, 2013 1:46 PM

Interesting. Bruce’s post has got me feeling guilty too. But not for the obvious reason.

I was in the fortunate position of being able to afford the book at Amazon’s base price, rather than needing Bruce’s discount as an incentive to buy it. While I would have liked a signed copy, I felt that reducing the number of copies available to people who might not otherwise read it, or to poor grad students, was unfair.

So why am I feeling guilty? Well, the book contains an important set of ideas. Some I agree with, some I don’t. But I haven’t posted a review in some public forum (Amazon / Goodreads) to make this point publicly. And that is the part of a bargain with a good writer (discounted or not) where I have failed.

JRD January 14, 2013 2:42 PM

I avoided the offer precisely because I knew I wouldn’t get around to writing the review. Opps.

RSaunders January 14, 2013 4:01 PM

Wow, I don’t always read all the comments on a post. I only read this one after the update. I took the 9% figure as “pretty good”. OK, the security world is smaller than some of the other folks that have done this experiment, but I thought 9% was a good turnout. In shareware programs without crippling or nagware reminders, 3-5% of users will send you $10 electronically. Writing a thoughtful review and reading a book is asking for a much larger commitment from the recipient, and Bruce got 2-3 times the going rate of return.

What’s interesting, in terms of the book, is that faced with lower than should reasonable expected level of cheating, a little “nudge” comment caused a huge reputation pressure response. At least that’s how I took the “don’t call me out for not writing a review” comments. I guess that officially scores our community as “Small”, per figure 7. I had a different notion of small in my head before this experiment.

Robert R. January 14, 2013 4:12 PM

There are 130 comments here, and I haven’t read them all, so as one of the defectors here’s my reason for not writing a review (yet, or maybe ever) :

I’m not sure I have anything to say
about Bruce’s awesome book that
hasn’t been said already.

That, and I was always lousy at writing book reports. And the “busy” thing; I’m writing my own book at the moment, and looking for work. There’s a lot of things I haven’t gotten around to.

It was never my intent to cheat Bruce out of an extra $14. If I had anything original to add, I would have gladly done so, because I think it’s one of the most important books to be published in the 21st century so far. Liars and Outliers should be required reading by our policy makers.

Bruce Clement January 14, 2013 5:05 PM

@Robert R
“I think it’s one of the most important books to be published in the 21st century so far. Liars and Outliers should be required reading by our policy makers.”

If you are a social media user tweet this, put it on your facebook or Linked In status etc …

Kris January 14, 2013 5:13 PM

My apologies Bruce. I have been one of the procrastinators, although I never had the intention to betray your trust. I am still committed to writing a review, but probably it would not be very soon.

Geoff January 15, 2013 8:41 AM

OK, it worked, whether you’re aiming at shaming (sorry…) or not. I’m about a third of the way through reading it, and there will be a review, on my blog, but probably not for another couple of weeks. But I’ll admit I never noticed the promise to write a review in the first place. Of course, that’s because I didn’t read carefully enough.
Now back to crafting GLBA policy. Sigh…

Kim January 15, 2013 8:57 AM

I have read part of the book but haven’t finished it yet. I am also one of those people who have been extremely busy and I have felt very guilty about taking so long to get it done and write the review. I do intend to if it’s not too late. Currently I am in a grad school class on terrorism which is eating up most of my time outside of work.

Iulian January 15, 2013 10:14 AM

While it’s very easy to pinpoint others when they do not keep they’re promises I would like to bring to your attention that you are falling, in my case, in the category you mention.
My wife bought the book but the book never got delivered. We wrote several emails without any success in getting the information of what happened and it has been around 6 months.
Wish it could be fixed. I can provide the specifics (date of purchase, etc.) if needed privately.

Craig Cox January 16, 2013 2:20 PM

The review is forthcoming; I have read the book and view it favorably; the medium in which I intend to publish hasn’t become available as fast as I’d like.

Bruce, do you have any time to read fiction, just for pleasure? If yes, I’d recommend to your attention O’Brian’s “Master and Commander” (first in a series). He offers an example of your thesis in the Dillon character, described at one point by another character as being “compelled to play Judas Iscariot with either his right hand or his left.” Your themes are explored further later in the book, although of course it was not the main point of the story.

David Leppik January 16, 2013 2:53 PM

I was wondering if this was some sort of psychological experiment (and yes, I did write a review.) The main effect of requiring a review was that I actually sat down and read the whole thing in a timely manner… rather than just letting it gather dust for a few months or years on the assumption that I already knew everything from reading this blog.

I’m currently reading Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene which has a lot in common, despite being a book on genetics from the 1970s. Many of the themes are the same, and like Liars and Outliers, the current edition has much of its material relegated to endnotes, thus requiring two bookmarks to read.

Orontes January 18, 2013 12:55 AM

It is already midnight when I read the “complaints” of the friendly and generous – because he is, in truth – Bruce Schneier …I laugh at the story!

And more I laughing with the “apologies” of his mischievous readers!

A cybersecurity expert cheated on the Web … And a crowd of shameless disciples did not hesitate to take advantage of the nobility of his teacher: It is a beautiful picture of our times so marked by commercial transactions via the Internet.

PS / I thought do the same thing what these readers did, but I refrained because I intuited that would not be meaningful … XD

John G January 18, 2013 5:28 AM

I bought the book and its themes became one of the main lines of argument in a lecture I gave at a law school and will be a serious influence in the law review article I am going to turn that into. So not a book review but a serious (if anyone reads it) use of your ideas, attributed, in the discussion of the limits of legislation in creating trust for legal purposes. Very interesting.

Those who got the book intending to read and review it but …. not yet, have my sympathy. The book sat on my table for some months, and without the deadline of the lecture, it might still be there. I have some excellent books in my bedside pile…

I may be at RSA this year, and though I have the book, I’d be happy to get another to give to my host in San Francisco!

Thanks for exploring this line of thought.

jacob January 18, 2013 1:29 PM

Sorry Bruce I was too busy at the time to even take you up on your offer. I do intend to buy it soon. BTW I have read your cryptography tome about a dozen times cover to cover and countless lookups. classic 🙂 kind of like the old rainbow books and now the newer guidelines. Almost makes me cringe when a new hack/crack comes out. You then have to decipher or translate application language per government requirements for customers. Your books and articles are something that I WILL look at, among others, in application situations.

Just like the TWIC thing caught my eye. PKI, credentialling paperwork… What does it mean for people kind of thing.

I may send you for outliers a writeup then. Intending to take a couple of days off soon. (very rare for me) When your hobby is your work……

notmyopinion January 21, 2013 4:54 AM

@ Freiheit, @bob, @Andrew J. Caines: I completely agree about the note style (and the notes on notes) – it’s really difficult to follow, and requires huge amounts of page flipping, multiple bookmarks, etc.

@Bruce – “it’s the style” in [some?] US Universities, but not necessarily elsewhere. Maybe you should, as a service to your readers, defect and improve the way footnotes are done. We really need more defectors from this insane group norm 🙂

And thanks for the book – a thought-provoking read.

Gary P February 2, 2013 1:08 PM

I wanted (and still do) a copy of the book, but realized that I had no time to read it. My choice was not to ask for the copy… I guess I should have since there is no time limit, but I would feel a “self imposed” commitment until I did the review. I am an outlier!

wael February 14, 2013 12:35 AM

I am sorry Bruce. Still working on it — but almost done. In the beginning it seemed like an easy read, but it turned out to be not so.

deecee August 10, 2013 11:20 AM

An even more belated post with belated apologies. Since the book arrived later than promised/expected and too late for my only annual window of opportunity to read full books (summer vacation), I did not get to it until my recently completed summer vacation.

It is a wonderful, educational (except perhaps for over-reliance on some evolutionary ‘data’) read and incredibly en pointe for anyone interested. And they should be interested, given the current post-Snowden events. Extremely interested.

It’s probably not worth posting a review at this point in time. My meager social presence wouldn’t make a dent anyway.

I’m going to presume to substitute that requirement with an alternate – donating it to my local public library, since they definitely should have it to make it available. Hopefully that will both fulfill the requirement and make up for any false pretenses for the reduced price purchase.

Thank you.

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.