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We don't demand a background check on the plumber who shows up to fix the leaky sink. We don't do a chemical analysis on food we eat. In the absence of personal relationships, we have no choice but to substitute confidence for trust, compliance for trustworthiness. This progression has enabled society to scale to unprecedented complexity, but has also permitted massive global failures.
At the same time, too much cooperation is bad. Without some level of rule-breaking, innovation and social progress become impossible. Society stagnates.
Bruce Schneier, world-renowned for his level-headed thinking on security and technology, tackles this complex subject head-on. Society can't function without trust, and yet must function even when people are untrustworthy.
"Liars and Outliers" reaches across academic disciplines to develop an understanding of trust, cooperation, and social stability. From the subtle social cues we use to recognize trustworthy people to the laws that punish the non-compliant, from the neuro systems that reward our honesty to the bank vaults that keep out the dishonest, keeping people cooperative is a delicate balance of rewards and punishments. It's a series of evolutionary tricks, social pressure, legal mechanisms, and physical barriers.
Trust and cooperation are the first problems we had to solve before we could become a social species. In the 21st century, they have become the most important problems we need to solve?again. Our global society has gotten so large and complex that our traditional trust mechanisms no longer work. Today's problems require new thinking, and "Liars and Outliers" provides that.
It is essential that we learn to think clearly about trust. Our future depends on it.
BRUCE SCHNEIER is an internationally renowned security technologist who studies the human side of security. He is the author of eleven books; and hundreds of articles, essays, and academic papers. He has testified before Congress, is a frequent guest on television and radio, and is regularly quoted in the press. His blog and monthly newsletter at www.schneier.com reach over devoted 250,000 devoted readers world-wide.
"The closest thing the security industry has to a rock star." --"The Register"
How does society function when you can't trust everyone?
When we think about trust, our natural inclination is to 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 weaves together ideas from across the social and biological sciences to explain how society induces trust. He shows how trust works and fails in social settings, communities, organizations, countries, and the world.
In today's hyper-connected society, understanding the mechanisms of trust is as important as understanding electricity was a century ago. Issues of trust and security are critical to solving problems as diverse as corporate responsibility, global warming, and our moribund political system. After reading "Liars and Outliers," you'll think about social problems, large and small, differently.
"After reading this book, I found myself frequently thinking in the terms Schneier introduced." ?David Modec, School of Psychology, University of Exeter
"This is exactly the kind of interdisciplinary synthesis I love." ?Daniel J. Solove, professor, George Washington University Law School
"Engaging, insightful, and thought-provoking, this book will alter how you think about security." ?Dorothy Denning, Distinguished Professor of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School
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