Liars and Outliers

Liars and Outliers : Enabling the Trust That Society Needs to Thrive

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In today's hyper-connected society, understanding the mechanisms of trust is crucial. Issues of trust are critical to solving problems as diverse as corporate responsibility, global warming, and the political system. 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 the unique role of trust in facilitating and stabilizing human society. He discusses why and how trust has evolved, why it works the way it does, and the ways the information society is changing everything.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 384 pages
  • 158 x 230 x 34mm | 639.56g
  • John Wiley & Sons Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white line drawings, figures
  • 1118143302
  • 9781118143308
  • 44,521

About Bruce Schneier

BRUCE SCHNEIER is an internationally renowned security technologist who studies the human side of security. A prolific author, he has written hundreds of articles, essays, and academic papers, as well as eleven books that together have sold more than 400,000 copies. 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 reach over 250,000 devoted readers worldwide. "The closest thing the security industry has to a rock star." The Register

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Flap copy

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. 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 become so large and complex that our traditional trust mechanisms no longer work. 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 noncompliant, from the way our brains 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 pressures, legal mechanisms, and physical barriers. In the absence of personal relationships, we have no choice but to substitute security 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. 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.

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Review quote

"One of the best books I've read this year is by a security technologist, Bruce Schneier. In Liars and Outliers, he sets out to investigate how trust works in society and in business, how it is betrayed and the degree to which technology changes all of that, for the better or the worse. Schneier absolutely understands how profoundly trust oils the wheels of business and of daily life." (Margaret Heffernan, CBS MoneyWatch) "This book will appeal not only to customers interested in computer security but also on the idea of security and trust as a whole in society." (The Bookseller, 16th December 2011) "This book should be read by anyone in a leadership role, whether they're in the corporate or political sphere... an easy read and the ideas and thoughts are profound." (Naked Security, February 2012) "By concentrating on the human angle and packing the book with real world examples he has successfully stretched its appeal outside that of the security specialist to the more general reader." (E & T Magazine, March 2012)

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Back cover copy

How does society function when you can't trust everyone? When we think about trust - we naturally think about personal relationships or bank accounts. But that is much too narrow; trust is broader, and far more important. Nothing in society works without trust. It is the foundation of communities, commerce, democracy, and world stability. In this insightful and entertaining book, Schneier weaves together ideas from across the social and biological sciences to explore how societies induce and encourage trust-and what happens when it fails in our personal lives, our businesses, communities, 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 stagnant political systems. After reading "Liars and Outliers," you'll think about social problems, large and small, with a new perspective. "Schneier makes an original and powerful argument for rethinking society. . . . His message is full of insight into how we function, or don't function, and along the way we are constantly hearing from the giants--such as Emerson, Thoreau, Socrates, even Emily Dickinson." --Seymour M. Hersh, "New Yorker" "Deeply philosophical yet highly accessible, "Liars and Outliers" is more than thought-provoking--it's the kind of book that fundamentally changes the way you think." --Daniel J. Solove, John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law, George Washington University Law School "Brilliantly dissects, classifies, and orders the social dimension of security--a spectacularly palatable tonic against today's incoherent and dangerous flailing in the face of threats from terrorism to financial fraud." --Cory Doctorow, Author of "Little Brother and Makers"; co-editor of "" "Engaging, insightful, and thought-provoking, "Liars and Outliers" will alter how you think about trust and security." --Dorothy Denning, Distinguished Professor of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School, and author of "Information Warfare and Security" "Without trust, nothing can be achieved. "Liars and Outliers" is a brilliant analysis of the role of trust in society and business." --Claus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum A note for e-book readers: For ease of reference, the figures used in this book are also located at

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Table of contents

A Note for Readers xv 1 Overview 1 PART I THE SCIENCE OF TRUST 15 2 A Natural History of Security 17 3 The Evolution of Cooperation 27 4 A Social History of Trust 41 5 Societal Dilemmas 51 PART II A MODEL OF TRUST 61 6 Societal Pressures 63 7 Moral Pressures 75 8 Reputational Pressures 87 9 Institutional Pressures 103 10 Security Systems 123 PART III THE REAL WORLD 137 11 Competing Interests 139 12 Organizations 155 13 Corporations 173 14 Institutions 195 PART IV CONCLUSIONS 205 15 How Societal Pressures Fail 207 16 Technological Advances 225 17 The Future 243 Notes 249 References 287 Acknowledgments 347 Index 349

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Customer reviews

This book will completely change the way you think of society and the human race. It offers a completely different perspective to societal problems, using concepts ranging from social psychology to computer simulation. Highly more
by michael dewayne lee