John Schwabacher'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
Nov 21, 2012

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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 rely upon it. He identifies classes of ways trust is encouraged/enforced: moral, reputational, security, etc. He identifies "societal dilemmas" where the needs and values of groups conflict with those of individuals and other groups.

Along the way he addresses all kinds of issues: crime, oppression, political oppression, computer hacking, when to expect an industry to form cartels, TSA "security theater", the worldwide economic crisis, and much more.

Some interesting bits:

"Defection" (people breaking rules or breaking faith with society) is inevitable. What society can do is decide where the tradeoff between intrusive enforcement and damaging defection lies.

For most of the interesting problems of society that we think of as security related, the security aspects are the least important. Society has to decide what is the right thing to do and what the appropriate tradeoffs are before deciding the appropriate solutions.
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Richard Finally finished it: five stars. I'd enjoy any thoughts you might have.

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