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

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  901 ratings  ·  136 reviews
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 compl
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by John Wiley & Sons (first published January 1st 2012)
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สฤณี อาชวานันทกุล
สนุกดี พูดถึงกลไกทีผลักดันใหคนทำตาม "ผลประโยชนของกลุม" (group interest) วามีสีประเภท คือ moral, reputational,institutional และ security เชน ผลประโยชนของกลุมคือ "ไมใหสังคมมีขโมยมากเกินไป" กตองใชทังการตอกยำวาการขโมยผิดศีลธรรม (moral), ประณามขโมยใหเสียชือเสียง (reputational), ออกกฏหมายและใชตำรวจจับขโมย (institutional) และติดตังลอคและสัญญาณกันขโมยตามบาน (security)

ในสีประเภทนี กลไกชนิด moral, reputational "เบสิก" ทีสุด ใชไดแตเฉพาะสังคมทียังมีขนาดเลก เชน ระดับหมูบาน เมือสังคมใหญขึนตองใชกลไกเชิงสถาบันแ
Bruce Schneier is, according to the quote from the Register on the inside sleeve notes, "The closest thing the security industry has to a Rock Star." And, like the actor Chuck Norris, Schneier is the only other person I'm aware of who has his own 'facts' website. Listing page after page of dubious, but sometimes amusing, facts about Bruce's encryption super-powers. Although jokes about encryption probably have a fairly narrow audience Bruce Schneier Facts gives us my personal favourite: "Bruce S ...more
Josh Hamacher
It pains me slightly to rate this book three stars, as I've been a fan of Bruce Schneier for years. I've subscribed to his newsletter since at least 1999 and enjoyed every issue. Unfortunately this book reads like a newsletter article that has been stretched, through repetition, to the length of a short book.

It's very well-written and is a fast read; Schneier has a real knack for explaining potentially complicated concepts clearly and simply. The thesis, that societies and organizations apply a
The human world is strongly conditioned by beliefs, attitudes and cognitive biases that we received from our evolutionary heritage. This topic has been one of the focal points of my reading for several years now, and I can attest that Bruce Schneier’s Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive serves as an excellent overview.

The book’s dust jacket tells us that Schneier is a “security technologist”; his wikipedia page clarifies that he is a cryptographer and computer sec
Matt Brown
An interesting read, but nothing ground breaking if you're a following of Bruce Schneier's blog or have read any of his opinion columns regarding trust and security.

The book covers the concepts of trust, and security and examines our natural instincts in relation to these often fail in the face of new technology and the growth of society. Much time is spent examining various difficult to solve social dilemmas in the context of this, and the introduction of background material from the fields of
Eduardo Santiago
It feels slightly disturbing to read this book so soon after Fukuyama's Trust and even more so the same week that This American Life aired episode 459, What Kind of Country, in which they chronicle disturbing societal breakdowns. Schneier covers trust, tradeoffs, more (and more interesting!) Prisoner's Dilemma discussion than any three books on Game Theory, evolutionary theory, economics, politics, current affairs.

What I found most interesting was his frank discussion of scaling problems: Trust
I've read Schneier's work online at his blog, so when I saw he was publishing a book, I said "Sure! He writes well, discusses topics relevant to my interests in security and process."

Reading this, I got a wonderful 101 book that collects a wide breadth of theories, generalizations, and examples of how society works and balances the need to create norms, maintain norms, and pervert those norms to innovate, as well as how the parasites who take advantage of those norms exist.

Unfortunately, I was r
Sep 26, 2014 Jur rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
We learn to trust strangers from a very young age. Not just uncles, cousins and neighbours, but also teachers, policemen, doctors and even newsreaders on TV. Compared to our ancestors and other animal species, humans have raised trust to unknown heights. Bruce Schneier , in his new book Liars & Outliers, takes us on a tour of how that trust came to be, how it manages to work in the majority of cases and why it doesn’t work in the rest.

Schneier uses Francis Fukuyama’s definition of trust, whi
I think you'll lean toward this one or not depending on how the subject matter interests you: what impetus is there for societies and communities to function together for the common good? What about those (defectors) who don't follow the rules or prefer to pursue their own selfish profit?

Full of bullet points and pro-con charts, this book leans toward pedagogical in tone, although it's fairly approachable. (I'd call it easy to read as opposed to enjoyable.) Its view is a bit self-admittedly simp
Michael Burnam-fink
When I heard that the author of the absolutely brilliant Secrets and Lies was turning his slantwise gaze from computer networks to society as a whole, I was excited. These days, security is a big business, and problems of insecurity bedevil the future. Schneier lays out his framework for how trust is required modern society function, and how the liars and outliers of the title abuse trust for their own advantage.

It is not that this is a bad book, but it is very general. Yes, we use morality, rep
The book effectively theorizes that almost all real life activities are an expression of "trust" or "security". Adam Smith would claim all real life activities as an effort to further economic interest. Richard Dawkins would make them an evolution thing. Some pope might believe in the religious meanings and some Plato in moral. All these might be valid even if narrow perspectives from particular vantage points, except that trust/security is exceptionally uninteresting, ridiculously narrow and of ...more
Bryan Murdock
I was excited to read this book by the legend himself ( The ideas are important, but it felt like death by examples reading this. The whole book is basically this: present a point and then tell 100 different little stories that back up the point and make it more clear, and then, if like me, you can't resist a good footnote you get about 100 more stories for each point. Many of the stories where interesting and did help bring the points home, but man oh man, for me ...more
Dec 21, 2012 Alan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Competing interests
Recommended to Alan by: Reputation; Roberta
This may be one of the most important books you'll never read.

In Liars and Outliers, Bruce Schneier (known—and with good reason—to The Register as "The closest thing the security industry has to a rock star") has produced a remarkably clear-eyed and dispassionate assessment of one of the most critical issues facing the human species—the fact that the notions of trust and security that served us well enough when we were scattered tribes of hunters and farmers do not scale up to the numbers and ki
John Schwabacher
Note: The edition I read has the subtitle Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive.

My good friend Jim Wiggins recommended this book highly. I found it interesting and very logical, but not earth-shattering. I did find myself wondering if that is because I haven't dealt with the issues involved before and just don't realize the contribution he's making.

Everything is laid out in a very logical structure.
Bruce Schneier discusses trust as a necessary part of society and points out how much we
Disappointing. I expect more from this author and perhaps when he leaves his field of cryptography and to some extent computer security, I shouldn't. This book did have moments of brilliance - it kind of caught its stride around part 3 - but lost it before getting to the final section. So what was wrong? First of all it was basically a psychology book but written first-person and chatty as though it were a bad high school paper. And I've got a lot of familiarity with a lot of this material - and ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Mary rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
I chose to read this book because I have been contemplating the interface of trust and justice in my thinking. Schneier is a bit pedantic but the themes are consistent and the last two chapters are worth reading more than once because they get to core concerns about how a society orders itself and how this is changing given our technological innovations. It also points out that in spite of rapid technological advances, the human heart remains remarkable consistent in seeking its own good. Remind ...more
Liars and Outliers was a tough book to read and is even tougher for me to recommend. I feel like the target audience is the person who is technical and lacks all knowledge and wishes to approach security from the vantage of sociology and economics. I imagine for some this is an interesting trajectory but I found it incredibly dry. The book livened up a little when real-world examples were used as walk throughs but more often this was simply presented as a list.

I adore Bruce Schneier but this see
The blurb inside the back cover explains that "Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist who studies the human side of security...prolific author...has testified before Congress...frequent guest on TV and radio...regularly quoted in the press." The subtitle of the book called out to me, but the book was not exactly a page turner for me. I reckon I plodded through it because I felt it is an important subject and I was hoping for some hope. My sense was that it was a rath ...more
A very good book on the basic social challenge of security, which provides a basic framework for thinking through the various "pressures" that are available for preventing people from "defecting" into anti-social behavior. There are basically four: moral pressures, reputational pressures, institutional pressures, and technological pressures. These work at different scales, with the former working better at smaller group scales, and the latter being generally more effective at bigger scales.

The b
As a cybersecurity professional, I follow his blog once in a while at He's got a lot of good stuff to say, so I thought I'd give this book a try.

I find Schneier's writing thought-provoking and interesting, but a bit redundant at times. Regardless of the redundancy present in this book, there's no question that he is very intelligent and articulate and does a great deal of research for his writing.

In this book, Schneier tries to tackle the "security gap" in a somewhat r
Bruce Schneier noted that he found this parable on the Internet. "Props" to whoever wrote it, it illustrates an important point about the diverse nature of social pressures.

"There was this kid who came from a poor family. He had no good options in life so he signed up for the military.
After a few years he was deployed to a conflict infested, god-forsaken desert outpost. It was the worst tour of
duty he could have been assigned. It was going to be hot, and dangerous. Every day he had to live with
Bruce Schneier has been called the "rock star" of security experts. Why do people abide by group norms most of the time, and what makes them defect? Is a certain rate of defection tolerable, desirable, and sometimes necessary for social change? Why do people become adulterers, thieves, terrorists, or whistleblowers? Most of the time, moral, reputational, and institutional controls limit people's defection from social norms; when these are insufficient, security measures may be required. The larg ...more
An absolutely amazing book that I recommend everyone reads. It goes into deep detail about why the security structure of society is changing right now, and what we could do against that change.
The damage caused by outliers (people who violate the trust in the society) is bigger than the individual lies they tell.

It's not unusual that honest people suffers because of the outliers. Examples are many: an acquaintance that is afraid to ask a favor because they think you are going to ask for something in return. People thinking you have second intentions because you are being nice to them, etc.

Trust is the foundation of a solid society and Bruce Schneier shows what happens when this trust
Subtitle: "Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive". First of all, the title is brilliant, capturing perfectly the tension between the need for a society to identify and punish sociopaths (minor or otherwise), and the need to allow enough divergence in behavior to allow innovation. A society that fails to do the first, will go the way of the Roman Empire in its later days, with plenty of people ready to pull marble off the public works and sneak it home to burn for lime at home, and not ...more
Excellent book! Highly recommendable. Good for developing "systems thinking" because it helps you see how society, as a system, is connected and how it interacts. It's also great because it prompts readers to take a closer view of the world and of current issues and how it could affect the world around them, despite not being personal issues. Good for introducing real-world examples of the "butterfly effect" in society and the world at large and explaining it in proper and understandable detail.
This topic really interests me and the author clearly has a ton of expertise in the area. Unfortunately, the book was slow to read as it seemed like all the main points were in the overview and the rest of the book just kept going over them with new examples. After all of those examples I had hoped I would leave with some concrete tools to implement better systems, but instead I just had a framework with which to examine systems. The author gives many examples of failed systems, but few of syste ...more
Paul Bonamy
Liars and Outliers isn't about how to 'fix' society. Nor is it about detecting when we're being conned, or, necessarily, how to protect oneself from confidence men or savvy scammers. Liars and Outliers is about something rather more fundamental: trust. In order for society to flourish - be it a small farming community or the vast, global society we're developing now - people have to be able to trust one another to do the 'right' thing, whatever that is, most of the time. We have to work together ...more
I'm a fan of Bruce Schneier, I've followed his blog for years, and I enjoy his moderate and practical approach to various security issues. So when he offered signed copies of his latest book at a discounted price in exchange for a review, I jumped at the opportunity.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. Perhaps because I'm already familiar, and agree, with many of his ideas, I didn't find too many surprising ideas here. Nonetheless, Schneier does a great job of laying out a broad, fairly consiste
Schneier takes us into the science and art of game theory and explains how social structures adapt to the increasing scale of human society in ways that either enhance social trust, allowing society to thrive or increase the probability of "defection" causing it to become more fragile. Cooperation is based on trust and as society gets larger more complex mechanisms are necessary to keep trust strong. Institutional pressure and security mechanisms have evolved to address this as our societies hav ...more
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Liars and Outlier...: Q&A with Bruce Schneier about Liars and Outliers 1 4 Apr 24, 2012 05:41PM  
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  • AMERICA THE VULNERABLE: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare
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  • The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy
  • Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software
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Bruce Schneier is "one of the world's foremost security experts" (Wired) and the best-selling author of thirteen books. He speaks and writes regularly for major media venues, and his newsletter and blog reach more than 250,000 people worldwide. He is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and the CTO of Resilient Systems, Inc.
More about Bruce Schneier...
Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World Schneier on Security

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“One hundred years ago, everyone could have personal privacy. You and your friend could walk into an empty field, look around to see that no one else was nearby, and have a level of privacy that has forever been lost. As Whitfield Diffie has said: "No right of private conversation was enumerated in the Constitution. I don't suppose it occurred to anyone at the time that it could be prevented” 6 likes
“It doesn’t matter how big your neocortex is or how abstractly you can reason: unless you can trust others, your species will forever remain stuck in the Stone Age.” 1 likes
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