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

Liars and Outliers by Bruce Schneier
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Sep 16, 12

bookshelves: nonfiction, psychology

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 simplistic; it's mostly laying out the ground rules for looking at interactions through an economic viewpoint. It introduces the Prisoner's Dilemma and various other hypothetical scenarios where cooperation -- in conjunction with another's, which isn't guaranteed -- offers benefits or disadvantages.

There are lots of interesting examples peppered in here (voting, corporate fraud), but some barely grace a sentence and others get a few paragraphs at most; there's nothing really covered in depth, and there was a humanistic element that I found missing during the discussions of preserving one's reputation or sticking to a moral code.

I'd recommend it to someone who's just learned about the Prisoner's Dilemma and finds it interesting; if you've done any real thought on these types of questions already, you're not going to find much that's new, although it's admirably organized.
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