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

Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier
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's review
Jan 05, 2013

really liked it
Read from July 27 to August 18, 2012

In his latest book Mr. Schneier explores the trust systems that have been built over the centuries that have made our complex society possible.

We've gone from a personalized trust system where we personally knew most people we interacted with. Small tribal societies where survival depended on each tribe memeber and each member knowing who will do what to help the tribe survive.

Then to societies where specialization developed. We knew most people we dealt with. We knew our storekeeper, our pharmacist, our plumber and neighbor.

To our current soceity where many people we interact with are unknown to us. We call a toll free number and a plumber shows up, we buy something on the internet from someone a continent away and we've never met.

He describes how institutionalized trust systems have been built to allow our current society to function. Trust systems such as laws, and intermediate brokers such as PayPal.

When we buy a gallon of 87 octane gas we don't test it or measure it, we just take it for granted that we got what we paid for. In large part because of a sticker on the pump saying someone tested it for accuracy and there are laws and snactions for people or businesses who violate this trust. If for some reason we suspect that we didn't get what we paid for there are systems to bring them into compliance.

Which is the second part of his book. Outliers or defectors of society and how they're necessary. They force us to be somewhat aware of the flaws in the systems, which cause them to improve, to patch holes or develop better (or at least different) trust systems. They also challange the assumptions of society.

Yes, many are the criminals in our jails and prisons, but many are also the ones who have made society grow. They challenged the way society treated women and blacks, and now, homosexuals. They find chinks in our digital armor or push for newer and cleaner ways to provide energy. Without the outliers we would have little to no growth and change in soceity.

He describes the need, function and history of trust systems as well as the need for the outliers.

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Reading Progress

07/27/2012 page 34

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