Blog in the Category "Liars and Outliers"

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Table of Contents

A Note for Readers
1 Overview

2 A Natural History of Security
3 The Evolution of Cooperation
4 A Social History of Trust
5 Societal Dilemmas

6 Societal Pressures
7 Moral Pressures
8 Reputational Pressures
9 Institutional Pressures
10 Security Systems

11 Competing Interests
12 Organizations
13 Corporations
14 Institutions

15 How Societal Pressures Fail
16 Technological Advances
17 The Future


Praise for Liars and Outliers

“Without trust, nothing can be achieved. Liars and Outliers is a brilliant analysis of the role of trust in society and business.”

—Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

“Schneier makes an original and powerful argument for rethinking society. . . . His message is full of insight into how we function, or don’t function, and along the way we are constantly hearing from the giants—such as Emerson, Thoreau, Socrates, even Emily Dickinson.”

—Seymour M. Hersh, New Yorker

“Deeply philosophical yet highly accessible, Liars and Outliers…

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You can order signed copies of Liars and Outliers for $26 shipped to U.S. addresses, $42 to addresses in Canada, and $45 to the rest of the world. (Yes, buying the book from an online bookstore is cheaper—and you can always find me at a conference and ask me to sign it.)

Cover of Liars and Outliers

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Chapter 1

Acrobat version

Just today, a stranger came to my door claiming he was here to unclog a bathroom drain. I let him into my house without verifying his identity, and not only did he repair the drain, he also took off his shoes so he wouldn’t track mud on my floors. When he was done, I gave him a piece of paper that asked my bank to give him some money. He accepted it without a second glance. At no point did he attempt to take my possessions, and at no point did I attempt the same of him. In fact, neither of us worried that the other would. My wife was also home, but it never occurred to me that he was a sexual rival and I should therefore kill him. Also today, I passed several strangers on the street without any of them attacking me. I bought food from a grocery store, not at all concerned that it might be unfit for human consumption. I locked my front door, but didn’t spare a moment’s worry at how easy it would be for someone to smash my window in. Even people driving cars, large murderous instruments that could crush me like a bug, didn’t scare me. Most amazingly, this worked without much overt security. I don’t carry a gun for self-defense, nor do I wear body armor. I don’t use a home burglar alarm. I don’t test my food for poison. I don’t even engage in conspicuous displays of physical prowess to intimidate other people I encounter. It’s what we call “trust.” Actually, it’s what we call “civilization.” All complex ecosystems, whether they are biological ecosystems like the human body, natural ecosystems like a rain forest, social ecosystems like an open-air market, or socio-technical ecosystems like the global financial system or the Internet, are deeply interlinked. Individual units within those ecosystems are interdependent, each doing its part and relying on the other units to do their parts as well. This is neither rare nor difficult, and complex ecosystems abound…

Liars and Outliers

Liars and Outliers

Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive

A book by Bruce Schneier

We don’t demand a background check on the plumber who shows up to fix the leaky sink. We don’t do a chemical analysis on food we eat.

Trust and cooperation are the first problems we had to solve before we could become a social species. In the 21st century, they have become the most important problems we need to solve—again. Our global society has become so large and complex that our traditional trust mechanisms no longer work.

Bruce Schneier, world-renowned for his level-headed thinking on security and technology, tackles this complex subject head-on. Society can’t function without trust, and yet must function even when people are untrustworthy…

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.