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Talking to Strangers What We Should Know About the People We Don’t KnowUtrageous outcomes from his little modern fairy talesI had to skip over almost the entire section on the Penn State pedophile story So you are a grown man in a locker room You see another man having sex with a child in plain sight and you run away without doing anything What a bunch of cowards we are The Mcueary guy ran pstairs to call his parents What I would have done had I been in that same situation before running pstairs to call my parents would have been to beat that pedo half to death That would have been a better story to tell mom and dad than to say that I had witnessed a child rape and did fuck all about it I couldn t live with that level of cowardiceI had to skip over Chapter Six because it deals with the TV show Friends which makes me physically illToo Good Just for the CommentsGoodreads User James wrote Malcolm Gladwell professional ltracrepidarian I thought this was brilliant at least I did after I looked Dias Story Cloth up the word As somewhat of a professional linguist I sought out the roots of the word and found probably the most fascinating origin story of any word I ve ever lookedpUltracrepidarian1 one who is presumptuous and offers advice or opinions beyond one s sphere of knowledge2 an insufferable gas bag at least in Gladwell s caseETYMOLOGYFrom Latin Chillwater Cove ultra beyond crepidarius shoemaker from crepida sandal Earliest documentedse 1819NOTESThe story goes that in ancient Greece there was a renowned painter named Apelles who Winter Of The Salamander used to display his paintings and hide behind them to listen to the comments Once a cobbler pointed out that the sole of the shoe was not painted correctly Apelles fixed it and encouraged by this the cobbler began offering comments about other parts of the painting At this point the painter cut him off with Ne sutorltra crepidam meaning Shoemaker not above the sandal or one should stick to one s area of expertiseAddition The story was told by the Roman writer Pliny the Elder hence Latin I was trying to work through my thoughts on this book when Goodreads did an interview with Malcolm Gladwell and this one thing he said just made everything clear for me I ve never been a writer who s looked to persuade his readers I m interested in capturing their interest and curiosity Because truthfully I don t know that Gladwell did fully convince me of his way of thinking with this book I don t know that I actually agree that he can draw a link between the police officer misunderstanding Sandra Bland and Neville Chamberlain misunderstanding Hitler and make that work And I don t know that I agree actually no I m pretty sure I don t about the way he views the Stanford rape case as a misunderstandingBut still I couldn t look away from this book It s the first book I ve read by Gladwell and I can see now why he has become something of a pop nonfiction writer because he definitely knows how to capture your attention It s got some psychology a bit of anthropology a touch of politics a dash of espionage what s not to likeI found it absolutely fascinating and horrifying when he shows how a blind machine can correctly judge the character and bail risk of criminals than human judges and trained law enforcement I really enjoyed learning about the way we characterize and judge facial expressions and how this is both misleading AND differs across cultures so not only do we often incorrectly judge those in our own society and culture but we ve got no chance when faced with someone from a different country You ever been to a foreign country and thought people were looking at you weird Turns out their face might just be in neutral or they re even being friendlyHe backs things The Story of Charlottes Web up with respectable studies and acknowledges limitations when appropriate which I liked I do think hembrellas a lot of very different examples Christian Charm School Leader Guide under the Talking to Strangers label and not all of them seem realistically linked to me But they are interesting nevertheless We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of clues We jump at the chance to judge strangers We would never do that to ourselves of course We are nuanced and complex and enigmatic But the stranger is easyIf I can convince you of one thing in this book let it be this Strangers are not easy In the end though he brings all this information all these studies and examples together to leaves with an idea that is nothing new but that I think we are all too Hey Diddle Diddle Leveled Text uick to forget people are complex than they first appear Don t judge a book by its cover if you will Some people are assholes others are just socially challenged me Some people are guilty others just get that shifty look when walking through the metal detectors at the airport also meI can t deny that I now want to read all his other booksIn Gladwell s defense he spoke with a number of sensitivity readers for this chapter and he discusses it in far depth than I ve given the impression of He goes out of his way to stress that he isn t making excuses for the culprit but is mostly critical of blackout drinking culture and how this makes annderstanding of consent impossibleBlog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube UPDATE 92319I have now changed this to one star The I read about this and other pseudo psych crap he pushesno no no The enjoyment of some parts of the book does not outweigh the total garbage of parts of it Two examples are linked below with a particularly shocking tidbit from one most important part of the first link Gladwell You know I have that chapter on Jerry Sandusky in my book and it s all about how I feel the leadership of Penn State was totally outrageously attacked over this I think they re blamelessSimmons YeahGladwell But with Joe Paterno Joe Paterno essentially did nothing wrong He hears the allegation and immediately tells his superiors and the critiue of Joe Paterno was essentially Why was a 75 year old football superiors and the critiue of Joe Paterno was essentially Why was a 75 year old football not behaving towards a suspected pedophile with the savvy and insight of a psychiatrist Simmons RightGladwell He s a football coach He doesn t even know what the word there was this hilarious regretful sigh hilarious there was this moment in I think one of the trial transcripts where someone was asked Did you Gorgeous and...Hung?! use when you went to thearterback who goes to Paterno Mcueary the former The Mangrove Tree uarterback goes to Paterno to tell him this allegation Did youse the word sodomy And he s like No I didn t se the word sodomy And then there s this sort of thing I think where they re wondering whether Paterno actually knew what the word sodomy was laughingSimmons RightGladwell He doesn t He s been thinking football 24 hours a day 365 days a year for 60 years He is not going to be alert to the darkness inside the heart of one of his former coaches You can t ask him to do that That s why you have mental health professionals or fit trained psychologists in the world to handle those kind of problems We do this thing sometimes when a crisis happens when we suddenly expect our leaders to be skilled at absolutely every job nder the sun They re not NO I JUST EXPECT LEADERS TO HAVE A FEW BRAIN CELLS THEY CAN POOL TOGETHER TO UNDERSTAND APPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIPS WWWWTTTF Also as a teacher and there are many other professions that wear many hats doctors nurses social workers business owners entrepreneurs literally almost any job I am ABSOLUTELY expected to perform than one specific role I manage data help with emotions involve the community report suspected abuse and so on As do many other Understanding Yandere Lovers underpaid andndervalued professions So it s DISGUSTING and insulting to literally everyone to imply we can allow and expect rich football coaches to be all aw shucks I was only thinking about my next game Ugh The positive is Gladwell always keeps me interested He somehow finds the most interesting anecdotes and stories Even the ones you have heard before he has a way of making them seem like there is always than meets the eye and that they are interesting I was never bored listening to this because even if you don t like one section he s almost on to something elseBut thenHis thing is to take stories that on the surface are completely Kings of Paradise (Ash and Sand unrelated and tries to jam them together to fit his central thesis In this book the main thesis is the idea that we can t appropriatelynderstandanalyze strangers because we try to get them to fit in a box That doesn t work because we don t Brothers understand everything about that person and their contextbackground For example If a person is mean he acts like If a person is a crook he will act Them acting opposite of what we assume they should act like causess to misjudge them and get the wrong idea Well surely this is not a new idea To me many of the examples he se either don t fit this have many other factors involved or at times he even contradicts his own theoriesLet s start with Sandra Bland His favored incident in the book His argument here is that she didn t fit the idea of law abiding citizen the cop had in his head when he pulled her over and it caused him to be afraid and assume she was a criminal She was shifty irritable and generally not happy to be pulled over Well who is I ve had some tickets in my day and I have only once to be pulled over Well who is I ve had some tickets in my day and I have only once what would be called a bit snappy to a cop but even when polite I generally always feel on edge I ve even cried before when I was struggling with money and afraid of getting a ticket I don t want a ticket and if I m getting one I want the situation to be over ASAP Don t we all So compare me to Sandra who as a black woman has a whole extra level of fear of the situation as well as the fact that she has had many traffic stops than I OVER GENERALLY MINOR STUFF THESE COST generally minor stuff These cost a lot of money and are very stressful Even if the officer didn t know she got stopped often in the past anyone who has been watching the news LIKE EVER knows African Americans may at times act nervous or aggregated than white drivers because of cases like Freddie Gray Michael Brown etc etc And if ANYONE knows this it damn well would and should be a cop How are we to believe he had no clue about the racial subtext of pulling over African American drivers Beyond the facts of race cops should know about de escalation which if you hear the tape he did not do this at all He didn t even attempt it Let s recall she is pulled over for not signaling which Gladwell fully admits the cop caused by tailing her Which adds to her irritation He gets petty with her over lighting a cigarette and screams at her to step out of the car over it So this pseudo psych theory that she isn t acting as he would expect and it made him terrified of her is justBS I don t discount cops have a hard job and it s harder than we can ever know to stay calm and read strangers Butbutthis was literally all on the cop If me being an average citizen knows about deescalation and how race plays a role in traffic stops no way he did not Was she a little rude Maybe but public service employees cops teachers nurses etc have to be able to deal with people who are a little rude You don t scream at them to get out of the car or say you are going to light them p or say good when they tell you they have epilepsy and they are worried for their health now I also don t think he was terrified of her and if he was and that s all it took he s either racist has power issues or just an awful cop Or all of the above No psych about it She should never have walked away with felony chargesTo be fair he is not at happy with how the cop acted that day but I am bothered by his over analysis of the cop Like this psychology explains his bad behavior Then comes Jerry Sandusky REALLY Is this the hill you wanna die on Malcolm That Sandusky was Leaders Eat Last unfairly treated Is it possible he is innocent I guess Save video tape of someone committing a crime and dozens of witnesses it s possible ANY convicted criminal could be innocent I tried really hard to keep an open mind but it s never even clear WHY he believes this so strongly He says it s nothing like the Larry Nassar case which it is often compared to Why does a crime have to be very similar to another crime of it s type to be true He says they had victims Those victims also never waver in their stories and told many people over the years First of all those were girls and these are all boys One would imagine they may behave differently in the situation Second of all and hear me out is it possible these victims of assault didn t act the way Gladwell felt victims of assault should act Which is his whole theory we have set ideas of how people should act in certain situations and yet he comes out on the other side implying Sandusky may be innocent Then also what exactly is the naked showering with slapping sounds if not sex Just horseplay More BS and if it was what adult man would not know horseplay of that manner with a child is destined to be construed as something else He never eve. Ackling theseestions Malcolm Gladwell was not solely writing a book for the page He was also producing for the ear In the audiobook version of Talking to Strangers you'll hear the voices of people he interviewed scientists criminologists military psychologists Court transcripts are brought to life with re enactments You actually hear the contentious arrest of Sandra Bland by the side of the road in Texas As Gladwell revisits the deceptions of Bernie Madoff. ,

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TW detailed descriptions of rape and pedophiliaIf it were possible to give a book negative stars this would be a 10 for meMalcolm Gladwell is incredibly influential From books to podcasts to TED talks he seems to be everywhere and his story based approach reaches a large number of people who don t La muralla verde uestion his credentials as a journalist with no scientific training who writes about science I enjoyed Blink and Outliers despite the often dodgy claims Gladwell makes based on studies that are small poorly designed andor not replicable The man does know how to create an engaging narrative and create aha moments that excite the reader And after all he admits he isn t a scientist but instead a storyteller whoses research to augment the stories who places the stories in the lead and the science in a supporting role rather than the other way aroundOkay I hear you shrugging So what Well in Talking to Strangers Gladwell brings his folksy approach and tendency to present his opinions as truth to a painful and horrifying subject sexual abuse The book explores our inability to tell when people are lying especially when they are confident and lack obvious tells eg shifty eyes covered mouth Gladwell suggests most people default to truth when interacting with strangers and that considerable evidence is needed before we believe someone is lying Moreover he feels this approach is vital to our social compact By contrast he believes approaching people with distrust as a default such as police officers who see every person as a potential suspect would make normal functioning impossible In making his case Gladwell describes two cases of serial pedophiles who operated for decades before being caught Larry Nassar the doctor who molested young female gymnasts in his care often in the presence of their parents and Jerry Sandusky the coach who sodomized young boys in his sports programs and foster care Reading these stories which described how the young victims were raped and assaulted in page after page of excruciating detail made me want to scrub my brain with bleach And then we get to Gladwell s conclusion that our inability to detect lies means that we should not be too harsh in judging the various adults who failed to protect children who were being sexually assaulted Here s how he puts it those victimized by default to truth deserve our sympathy not our censureTo clarify the victims in this sentence are not the children who were raped but the adults parents teachers employers of pedophiles who ignored warning signs and suspicious behavior for years People who buried evidence People who dismissed the discomfort expressed by the children who lacked the vocabulary to explain the horror of being violated by an adult in a position of trustGraham Spanier the former Penn President was told by one of his own employees that Sandusky was seen in the shower with a young boy at night in deserted gym facilities with his body right The New Competition up against the child He did not go to the police He did not call Child Services He accepted the suggestion from another staff member that Sandusky was just horsing around and let the matter drop Gladwell has a lot of sympathy for Spanier stating people liked Grahman Spanier It s why he had such a brilliant career It s why you and I would want to work for him We want Graham Spanier as our President We think we want our guardians to be alert to every suspicion We blame them when they default to truthwithout stopping to consider the conseuences of those actions Actually no I don t want Spanier as myniversity President Or anywhere except in a prison cell Nor do I think any conseuences could be worse than a society that allows children to be abused A little distrust or a trust but verify approach is a good thing when the vulnerable are involvedGladwell also spends Domestic Slavery Considered as a Scriptural Institution by Francis Wayland and Richard Fuller uite a bit of time throwing doubt on the stories of the boys victimized by Sandusky noting contradictions and inconsistencies Gladwell is not a trained psychologist psychiatrist or a trauma abuse counselor He has zero experience in dealing with the victims of sexual abuse Contradictory stories are common in cases of child molestation as the victims often try to repress or justify their abuse Gladwell did not personally know any of the children involved It snclear if he knows anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse Yet he feels it is appropriate to suggest that the victims were lying or wrong and that Spanier was mistreated for being too trusting Later in the book he defends rapists including Brock Turner In case the name rings a bell that was the frat guy who Mini Habits for Weight Loss: Stop Dieting. Form New Habits. Change Your Lifestyle Without Suffering. undressed fingered and tried to rape annconscious woman behind a dumpster only to be scared off by two other students Gladwell feels that alcohol and mixed signals are mainly scared off by two other students Gladwell feels that alcohol and mixed signals are mainly for rape Brock s victim calls for sensitively training on college campuses to help men learn to respect women and says that while heavy drinking was a factor in what happened it was not the reason for her rape Her powerful open letter to the court made me cry Yet Gladwell disagrees with her assessment of why the rape happened statingBrock Turner was asked to do something of crucial importance that night to make sense of a stranger s desires and motivations That is a hard task for all of Children of the New World usnder the best circumstances Asking a drunk and immature nineteen year old to do that in the hyper sexualized chaos of a frat party is an invitation to disasterNot raping someone is a hard task Gladwell acknowledges harm was done but he also asks whether the victim flirted with Brock whether she struggled or whether she stumbled outside willingly I agree alcohol clouds judgement and have no problem limiting it as part of a strategy to address assault on campus But a good man doesn t rape a women regardless of how much he has been drinking At best limiting alcohol might deter monsters like Brock by getting them to think about the possible conseuences of their actions eg jailReading this book was like wading through a sewer The fact that someone with Gladwell s influence is The Oswald Reflection using his platform to excuse people complicit in sexual assault is disgusting I will certainly never read anything by Gladwell againFor on Gladwell s misrepresentation of science on him as an apologist for abusers Malcolm Gladwell is viewed as a hugely influential writer and I was eagerly anticipating reading this my first taste of his work a body of his thinking on how we the people are extraordinarily gullible when it comes to strangers all too easily taken in by them in our general eagerness to trust rather than be cautious He gives a raft of well known examples from history such as Neville Chamberlain being all to willing to take Hitler at face value and recent contemporary examples such as the runaway success of Bernie Madoff s fraudulent ponzi schementil it all fell apart interspersed with interviews with prominent personalities It turns out that overall I was doomed to be disappointed with this bookFor me he makes far too many generalisations often jumping to ill thought out judgements and conclusions whilst omitting key variables and all too keen to let off those with responsibilities to prevent abuse The problem is that he sounds frighteningly plausible and genial in the manner in which he lays out his often controversial poorly researched thinking so disarmingly seductive and there are occasions that I cannot deny he is certainly interesting and thought provoking The latter is insufficient for me to recommend this tome to other readers I would prefer to direct readers to the many far expert and well thought out other psychological studies on the complexities of human communication which in my view will turn out to be a helpful and productive experience and additionally are academically rigorous Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC If this had just been stories about spies and the meeting between Hern n Cort s and Montezuma or whatever I would have rated it five stars There s no The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Harvard uestion that Malcolm Gladwell is a good storyteller I just wish that he would leave it at that and stop trying to shoe horn a bunch of tall tales into some sort of coherent statement about the state of the world I m not a scientist but I think that I know science when I see it I ain t seeing it here The death of Sandra Bland is what happens when a society does not know how to talk to strangers This is the stupidest thing I ve heard concerning this tragedy This was also the whole point of this book and Galdwell s facile explanation is completely without meritThe cop wasite simply a ginormous fucking asshole We have it all on film for Christ s sake He just couldn t let it go that this black woman wasn t bowing down to him and had the temerity to light Quantum (Captain Chase up a cigarette in his majestic presence He pulled her over as he states for failing to signal a lane change when he pulled behind her Are you kidding me What kind of cop does thatBrian Encinia OK ma am Pause You OKBland I m waiting on you This is your job I m waiting on you When re you going to let me go Encinia I don t know you seem very really irritatedBland I am I really am I feel like it s crap what I m getting a ticket for I was getting out of your way You were speedingp tailing meso yeah I m a little irritatedBrian Encinia Are you done Are you done What a total asshole There is absolutely no estion that his tone was completely nasty just listen to the video He asked her was completely nasty just listen to the video He asked her she was OK What does he expect her to say Thank you for pulling me over and fucking with me for no reason whatsoever This was that point when it went from a bullshit traffic stop to something sinister on his part where he had something to prove to himself Unfortunately it came at the expense of another human being who was simply trying to make it through the dayI wish that Sandra Bland had asked him Is this why you became a cop To hassle people for no good reason She was so incredibly reasonable and the cop was just a huge asshole End of story There are no two sides to this He is nfit for the job He either hates black people or he just hates people Either way he doesn t deserve the public trust that is necessary to be a policemanThis brings Perilous Love (Sinful Souls MC up the entire nature of police work Like most other American kids I grewp on a steady diet of TV and movies in which the heroes were cops yet I never consider being a policeman for even a split second Why Probably because I just never felt the need to have power over anyone else I never felt that I had something to prove We need to test police recruits for this tendency and weed them out if they have a chip on their shoulder like Brian Encinia He should definitely not be a policeman He is a terrible human being especially after the fact when he testified that he felt his life was in dangerHuman beings are sometimes or oftentimes fooled by a load of shit some stranger passes off on them Gladwell is now infamous for cherry picking examples that prove his point while ignoring volumes that tell of a different outcome People are often wrong about the intentions of strangers they talk toexcept when they are rightIn all of his ramblings about the CIA the only conclusion we should come to is that the US should just stop spying and try being straightforward and open as a nation just to see where that gets Children of Blood and Bone us Spying has produced so little benefit especially when you consider how much money we ve poured into that black hole OK we got Bin Laden but how much did it costs to hunt down and assassinate one hairy old religious fanatic Imagine instead if we had Laird of Shadows (MacDougall Legacy Book 1) used all of that money to build schools and hospitals around the world thus building goodwill I think goodwill trumps some dead fanatic The issue with spies is not that there is something brilliant about them It is that there is something wrong withs I couldn t disagree with this I would turn this thought on its head The issue with spies is not that there is something brilliant about them It is that there is something wrong with them Of course the Soviets East Germans and Cubans beat the US in spy craft over the course of decades because they are a people hatched in duplicitous dictatorships where obfuscation and deceit are reuired for survival This is precisely why we should have never tried to battle them in this realm We should have gone the route of honesty and full disclosureAs a nation would we rather excel at deception or honesty Why are we so bad at detecting lies This is a stupid meaningless estion that makes about as much sense as asking why we are so bad at predicting the outcome of a sporting event You win some you lose someWith that said if your job is to ferret out double agents in an intelligence organization and you interview someone you suspect and then let them off the hook you suck to put it mildlyGladwell extrapolates some incredibly Malcolm Gladwell host of the podcast Revisionist History and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Outliers offers a powerful examination of our interactions with strangers and why they often go wrongHow did Fidel Castro fool the CIA for a generation Why did Neville Chamberlain think he could trust Adolf Hitler Why are campus sexual assaults on the rise Do television sitcoms teach s something about the way we relate to each other that isn't trueWhile
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N comes down or attempts to explain why a grown man would engage in naked horseplay with a child Then of course Brock Turner Yes college kids should probably drink less alcohol Wow Revolutionary The fact he has to say outright it s not victim blaming reveals he knows what shaky ground he is onJust Stowaway ugh He tries sooooo hard and has so many holes and flaws in his arguments I wish he would just tell the stories and stop trying to be intellectual about it I DNF d this book after reading too many cringey statements from Gladwell He wants to categorize a whole range of evils from the victimization ofnarmed black people Sandra Bland to women being raped at colleges parties Brock Turner as mere communication issues between people Sure there might be some element of miscommunication but it completely misses the point that there are much larger problems and bigger things going on beyond that I get that he s trying to cram these situations into his premise in order to write this book but the result is completely tone deaf and helps to justify crimes and ignorance Instead of encouraging people to be educated on things the don t The Syntactic Licensing of Ellipsis understand like consent or why prejudice against black people can lead to excessive force against them Gladwell chalks itp to communication barriersTo be clear Gladwell doesn t try to say that Bland was at fault for her death but rather that the officer didn t properly de escalate However he also takes time to explain why race had nothing to do with the situation For example he ignores the mountain of evidence that shows that black people are routinely pulled over freuently Instead Gladwell explicitly states that the officer s decision was not race motivated However he reaches this conclusion based on nothing His sole support for that statement is the statistic that shows this officer often wrote tickets to the tune of 1557 just that year but it s a meaningless number that doesn t prove anything if we don t know if those tickets were evenly or fairly distributed There s also the The Persian of Thunder Bay uestion of whether this book states anything new The idea that black people are treated exactly the same as everyone else and racism is a myth or that women who drink are partially to blame for being raped are two extremely old arguments There s nothing new or interesting about it It s old tired and not worth anyone s time There s alsoestionable logical leaps that Gladwell makes to put forth his antiuated arguments Mystifyingly a survey showing that people have different ideas on what constitutes consent leads him to the conclusion that there are no rules when it comes to consent Umm what So if I took a survey that showed that most people don t know where the Ukraine is located does that mean the Ukraine has no location or does it mean that people are ignorant Gladwell s tortured logic for the sake of justifying rape is mind boggling Skip this awful intellectually vapid book As I sat at the airport head deep in a book I suddenly heard Hi What To my left stood a handsome man I just thought I should say hi since I see you re reading Talking to Strangers I too thought Malcolm Gladwell s new book was going to teach me how to literally talk with people I don t know but as always he turns all my assumptions on their head with this book If that s what the book was about that stranger and I might be on a date by now If I can convince you of one thing in this book let it be this Strangers are not easy We think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the flimsiest of cluesAt the 2019 book conference BookExpo America Malcolm pointed out that the problems exemplified by the death of Sandra Bland a black woman arrested by a white policeman are everywhere not just in the darkest areas of America It lies not only with these individuals but within each of O que é o quê us In his book he takes huge scandals and who doesn t love to read about a scandal reaches deep inside like you would your skinniest jeans and then pulls them inside out Except that when he does this you suddenly realize your jeans had actually been inside out before It is mind bending which means that you have to follow along to at least page 54 before you start tonderstand where Malcolm is going You will either find this too convoluted to keep going at some point or you will read it all in one sitting as I did flying from NY to CA My one frustration with this book is that at the very end Malcolm spends only 2 pages 2 saying what we should do about all he just taught s After speeding through the book that feels like an abrupt stop On the other hand I can t stop thinking about what he reveals along the way I can t nsee what he has shown me and now my framework of looking at the world is different And isn t that the mission of any good bookSPOILER ALERT For those of you who don t keep reading the book here are my key insights But to really nderstand what Malcolm argues happened in cases like Fidel Castro s fooling of the CIA the deceptions of Bernie Madoff the trial of Amanda Knox the suicide of Sylvia Plath the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal and the death of Sandra Bland you need to read the whole book 1 THE DEFAULT TO TRUTH PROBLEM We do not behave in other words like sober minded scientists slowing gathering evidence of the truth or falsity of something before reaching a conclusion We do the opposite We start by believing And we stop believing only when our doubts and misgivings rise to the point where we can no longer explain them awayFor a very few there is no high threshold before doubts turn into disbelief dishonesty and stupidity is everywhere In Russian folklore this archetype is called yurodivy the Holy Fool We should be strategically inserting these people where our society has a blind eye to be whistle blowers however we don t want these to blanket their judgement on everyone While we think we want our guardians to be alert to every suspicion that is actually key to where the police officer so tragically failed Sandra Bland It wasn t that he didn t do what he was trained to do but that he did exactly what he was trained to do He was taught to blanket perfectly innocent people with suspicion in case of the rare instance of a criminal This kind of thinking leads to the distrust we see between police and the community today To assume the best of another is the trait that has created modern society Those occasions when our trusting nature is violated are tragic But the alternative to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception is worse2 THE TRANSPARENCY PROBLEM Transparency Is A Myth How People Are TRANSPARENCY PROBLEM Transparency is a myth How people are inside often does NOT perfectly match how they appear on the outside which means we are misjudging other s intentions This doesn t matter as much with close friends where you nderstand what their idiosyncratic expressions mean I had a friend who would often abruptly get Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, up and leave Other people would think she was very angry at something someone had said but I saw nothing wrong because I could tell she wasn t angry at all When we are confronted with a stranger we have to substitute an idea a stereotype for direct experience And that stereotype is wrong all too often However while this strategy for dealing with strangers is deeply flawed it is also socially necessary The reuirement of humanity means that we have to tolerate an enormous amount of error That is the paradox of talking to strangers We need to talk to them But we re terrible at it we re not always honest with each other about just how terrible at it we are3 THE MISMATCH PROBLEM We are bad lie detectors in those situations when the person we re judging is mismatched A mismatch is where someone s level of truthfulness does NOT correspond with the way they look I think someone is honest based on how they look and act but in actuality they are lying and I can t tell the difference Malcolm dissects the case of Brock Turner where because these two strangers were blind drunk myopia removed the highest order constraint on their behavior Myopia makes it hard to consider the long term conseuences so a sexually aggressive teenager s impulses are no longer kept in check by annderstanding of how inappropriate those behaviors are and the long term risks of those behaviors Combine that with mismatching and transparency problems and it s a disaster If you want people to be themselves in a social encounter with a stranger to represent their own desires honestly and clearly then they can t be blind drunk 4 THE COUPLING PHENOMENON The first set of mistakes we make with strangers have to do with our inability to make sense of the stranger as an individual But there s a second category of error that has to do with our inability to appreciate the context in which the stranger operates Coupling is the idea that behaviors are linked to very specific circumstances and conditionsFor instance both crime and suicides are coupled tied to very specific places and contexts Outside of those places and contexts the rate of both go down drastically That means when you confront the stranger you have to ask yourself where and when you re confronting the stranger because those two things powerfully influence your interpretation of who the stranger isSO WHAT SHOULD WE DO We could start by no longer penalizing each other for defaulting to truth We should also accept the limits of our ability to decipher strangers But far Important Than A Little Grace than a little grace humility over what we cannot do we should be clear about what we can do There are clues to making sense of the stranger But attending to them reuires humility and thoughtfulness and a willingness to look beyond the stranger and take time and place and context into account Malcolm Gladwell was motivated by a need to Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, understand the truth of what happened with Sandra Bland and other recent scandals His conclusion is that the truth is not some hard and shiny object that can be extracted if only we dig deep enough and look hard enough The thing we want to learn about a stranger is fragile just by stressing someone out you can affect their memory of what happened We need to accept that the search tonderstand a stranger has real limits We will never know the whole truth We have to be satisfied with something short of that The right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humilityBecause we do not know how to talk to strangers what do we do when things go awry with strangers We blame the strangerMy honest review was made possible by an Advanced Reader Copy from Book Expo America Never Trust a Blood Relative Talking to Strangers is an elaboration of a simple trivial idea It s very difficult to tell when people are lying According to Timothy Levine the academic psychologist on whom Gladwell relies for his basic argument the presumption that people tell the truth is almost Potato Chips for Breakfast A True Story of Growing Up in an Alchoholic Family universal a few Holy Fools a 922019 I m knocking this down to two stars Gladwell s really bad takes on things like race and sexual assault just don t deserve an okay ratingWow does this book ever suffer from a severe case of foot in mouth disease I almost didn t make it past the introduction In my pre publication copy Gladwell writes The Sandra Bland case came in the middle of a strange interlude in American public life and then goes on to discuss a series of cases of police violence against black people that happened around 2014 Strange interlude ReallyThat phrasing suggests that this treatment was some sort of aberration in American history and that the violence only happened during the few years he references Did Gladwell really mean to ignore America s long history of this problem I don t think so I think he may have meant that the attention paid to police violence wasnusual but dude choose your words much carefullyLater on there are some good points made about how and why we tend to misunderstand each other But again I almost put the book down this time while reading the chapter on the Brock Turner sexual assault case Without going into detail that chapter could only have been written by someone who s buried his head in the sand over the past five years or soIt S Tough To Ignore The Problematic Elements Of Talking To tough to ignore the problematic elements of Talking to I could absolutely see the discussion of the causes of sexual assault offending some readers to the point that they abandon the book altogether I ve definitely enjoyed other books by the author a lot than this one Three stars but that s being generous Thanks to NetGalley and Little Brown and Company for giving me a DRC of this book which will be available for purchase on September 10th I always feel lucky when I get to read a book before its official publication date A fascinating accessible examination of the miscommunications that can arise when we talk to strangers We re going to interview Malcolm Gladwell for the Happier podcast can t wait for that. The trial of Amanda Knox and the suicide of Sylvia Plath you hear directly from many of the players in these real life tragedies There's even a theme song Janelle Monae's Hell You TalmboutSomething is very wrong Gladwell argues with the tools and strategies we Chimes of a Lost Cathedral (The Revolution of Marina M. use to make sense of people we don't know And because we don't know how to talk to strangers we are inviting conflict and misunderstanding in ways that have a profound effect on our lives and our worl.