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

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  795 ratings  ·  125 reviews
How does society function when you can't trust everyone? When we think about trust, we naturally think about personal relationships or bank vaults. That's too narrow. Trust is much broader, and much more important. Nothing in society works without trust. It's the foundation of communities, commerce, democracy--everything.

In this insightful and entertaining book, Schneier w
ebook, 384 pages
Published January 27th 2012 by Wiley (first published January 1st 2012)
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สฤณี อาชวานันทกุล
สนุกดี พูดถึงกลไกที่ผลักดันให้คนทำตาม "ผลประโยชน์ของกลุ่ม" (group interest) ว่ามีสี่ประเภท คือ moral, reputational,institutional และ security เช่น ผลประโยชน์ของกลุ่มคือ "ไม่ให้สังคมมีขโมยมากเกินไป" ก็ต้องใช้ทั้งการตอกย้ำว่าการขโมยผิดศีลธรรม (moral), ประณามขโมยให้เสียชื่อเสียง (reputational), ออกกฏหมายและใช้ตำรวจจับขโมย (institutional) และติดตั้งล็อคและสัญญาณกันขโมยตามบ้าน (security)

ในสี่ประเภทนี้ กลไกชนิด moral, reputational "เบสิก" ที่สุด ใช้ได้แต่เฉพาะสังคมที่ยังมีขนาดเล็ก เช่น ระดับหมู่บ้าน เ
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
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
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
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
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  ·  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
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 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
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
For a topic that I've often seen presented in very dry prose, Schneier has done a commendable job of making it accessible. While he's known primarily for his work in computer security, this book doesn't concentrate on technology or the digital world, and it is all the better for it. For one thing, its appeal is broadened. More importantly, though, its concepts can be applied to both the physical and digital realms, and restricting the book's purview to digital issues would have been a waste of i ...more
I've been reading a bit in the area of evolutionary psychology recently and thinking about the nature and current state of group interactions. The political and social climate in the US seems to be about as bad as it ever has been and the level of disillusion in institutions and lack of trust between groups seems to be growing exponentially. So, in light of these thought processes, I came across Bruce Schneier's book talking about trust in today's world and how security, the lack of or excessive ...more
The first chapters of Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive by Bruce Schneier, a book about the how and why of trust in today's world, were tough going but the balance of the book is well worth the effort. The work seems to be a psychological/sociological description and explanation of how trust comes to be. It seems to be a philosophical work as the author puts forth his ideas about how "defection" from the group expectations can be a positive and/or a negative - f ...more
I'm a Bruce Schneier fan. I read his blog regularly and I think he's one of the smartest and most forward thinking security experts working today. I bought this book without even looking.

Perhaps I should have. It wasn't what I expected and because of that, I was let down and disappointed. Which reflects in my low rating. It's certainly a well written book and well researched and makes very good points. Too bad it wasn't very interesting to me.

Schneier normally writes about security, and his bl
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Liars and Outlier...: Q&A with Bruce Schneier about Liars and Outliers 1 3 Apr 24, 2012 05:41PM  
  • Security Engineering: A Guide to Building Dependable Distributed Systems
  • Reversing: Secrets of Reverse Engineering
  • Cryptography Engineering: Design Principles and Practical Applications
  • Metasploit: The Penetration Tester's Guide
  • The Evolution of Cooperation
  • AMERICA THE VULNERABLE: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare
  • The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Discovering and Exploiting Security Flaws
  • The Tangled Web: A Guide to Securing Modern Web Applications
  • The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
  • Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking
  • Writing Secure Code
  • Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom
  • Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room
  • Kingpin: How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground
  • The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation
  • 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
  • The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet
  • The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers
Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly about Security in an Uncertain World Schneier on Security Schneier's Cryptography Classics Library: Applied Cryptography, Secrets and Lies, and Practical Cryptography

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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” 5 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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