Matt Brown's Reviews > Liars and Outliers: Enabling the Trust that Society Needs to Thrive

Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier
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Feb 22, 12

Read from February 15 to 21, 2012

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 Psychology and Sociology provides interesting (if obvious in hindsight) snippets to demonstrate our typical behaviour in this area.

The biggest downside of the book is simply that it attempts to cover a huge range of material across all these subjects and although it mostly succeeds in presenting a coherent narrative and argument, there is certainly no detailed examination of any of the background material or premises. The text of the book ends at around 60% of the way through the Kindle ebook, the remaining pages taken up by copious indices, references and supporting notes, which I guess is a useful resource if you are fascinated enough by the topic to invest further time in it.

For me personally, I felt that I'd got all I could get from it by this point and wasn't inclined to follow any of the references, but it did leave me feeling like the book was only half finished. If the book instead substituted that space with less direct references and more critical evaluation of how the framework the book explains could be pragmatically applied to future societal problems and situations it would have been much more engaging.
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