Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive” as Want to Read:
Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,047 Ratings  ·  147 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
Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Published January 27th 2012 by Wiley (first published January 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Liars and Outliers, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Liars and Outliers

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
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
May 05, 2012 Josh Hamacher rated it liked it
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
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
Eduardo Santiago
Mar 07, 2012 Eduardo Santiago rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 26, 2014 Jur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2012 Yune rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2014 Nils rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 05, 2012 Nilesh rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 23, 2014 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Eric Vanhove
I regularly read Bruce Schneier's blog, Schneier on Security and looked forward to completing this book. But I've really had a hard time completing the book, and have only recently figured out why that is. The content is very good, and explains the trade offs that we make on a daily basis. It's good for a quick read of a few pages, or maybe even a chapter, but after a while it gets hard to read. And that's the answer to my conundrum: it's written like a really long blog! This is problematic as S ...more
May 14, 2014 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2015 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Great vocabulary for talking about social dilemmas and society-wide dynamics, and some sobering observations.

Not nearly enough actual content for this length of a book.

I wish everybody read this book; it explains important things well and clearly. But it's the kind of book I want everybody to have read, more than something I'd actually recommend as an enjoyable and edifying experience.
Jan 01, 2016 Raj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bruce Schneier started life as a security expert but his interests have been expanding over time, and this book is really a general sociology of trust, and what enables large-scale societies to exist, never mind to thrive. He talks about the four different societal pressures that can be brought to bear against those thinking about "defecting" from a group: moral, reputational, institutional and security. He discusses each of these in detail and then looks at larger scale societies and how these ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Andreas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: professional
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.
Dec 23, 2014 Pedro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Babak Fakhamzadeh
This book is about impersonal trust, basically how you as an individual put trust in the behavior of others within your society. "Will that driver stop at that stop sign?" Do you have to count the change you get back when shopping?
Trust allows for making social life more predictable, creating a sense of community and making it easier for people to work together.

The author emphasizes security as a precondition for trust. Humans, as a species, with relative extraordinary intelligence, are able to
Sep 14, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: white
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
Jul 22, 2015 Pash rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Liars and Outlier...: Q&A with Bruce Schneier about Liars and Outliers 1 4 Apr 24, 2012 05:41PM  
  • Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems
  • Practical Cryptography
  • Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software
  • Metasploit: The Penetration Tester's Guide
  • Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering
  • Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime — from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door
  • Silence on the Wire: A Field Guide to Passive Reconnaissance and Indirect Attacks
  • The Evolution of Cooperation
  • The Art of Software Security Assessment: Identifying and Avoiding Software Vulnerabilities
  • America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare
  • The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
  • The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Flaws
  • Before the Lights Go Out: Conquering the Energy Crisis Before It Conquers Us
  • Writing Secure Code
  • The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Scientific Discovery
  • The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet
  • Hacking: The Art of Exploitation
  • Counter Hack Reloaded: A Step-By-Step Guide to Computer Attacks and Effective Defenses

Goodreads is hiring!

If you like books and love to build cool products, we may be looking for you.
Learn more »
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...

Share This Book

“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” 7 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
More quotes…