Great book: many interesting historical details coupled together with social research to explain previous facts. It almost feels like an academic thesis where the author is proving his idea by multiple interesting examples. I learned a lot. Sometimes the writing is a bit ripetitive and confusing but overall the author does a great job....Continua
In this new book of the author's, though it's rather thick (p.386 is the last printed page number), I think the main topics that the author has tried to convey to us are "default to truth", mismatched / assumed transparency and coupling.
The author told us that we tend very often to default to truth rather than suspect other people all the time. This is why Fidel Castro's Cuban double agents have fooled CIA and Bernie Madoff have fooled so many investors for such a long time before people finally found out. The police force believed in "transparency" such that they could figure out a stranger in the street by how they behave and respond to certain questions and actions. This is dangerous because some people are "mismatched" and their behavior and responses are just very different from others. Assuming that you see through their behavior, could and has led to tragic consequences. Finally, the author told us about the idea of coupling such as crimes or suicide being coupled with certain locations. If you cure the problem of crimes and suicides for such a limited area (like building barrier in the Golden Gate Bridge), you'd likely reduce the no. of crimes and suicides significantly. When there is a convenient place to commit suicide, they tend to happen when the suicidal person just has the right mood to kill themselves. If they get rid of that convenient place, they wouldn't be able to kill themselves even when the mood is right. Because not all places or methods are equal in suicides and people have their favorite ways of committing suicide. If you get rid of that particular location or method, he or she may not commit suicide at all.
However, the author later told us that we can't be suspicious of everybody all the time ; otherwise, the society doesn't work. So, at the end, it seems to me that the more people in a community can "default to truth", the better that community is. The author points out the problem of not identifying the cheaters but there is no real solution !
In the 2nd last chapter of the book, the author told us that Kansas City (after a few trials and errors) finally found out that if they just legally stopped anyone they thought suspicious in order to find guns in a small crime hotspot area, the crime rate would drop in half. Nevertheless, unfortunately, many other US areas have copied this tactics to be used in areas which have very low crime rates and this has created troubles and tragedies because most people the police officers have harassed in those non-hotspot areas are innocent. That's essentially the conundrum.
It's always interesting to read how this author describes a problem, that a simple problem may be described in a very interesting or surprising manner. This way, the readers are at least drawn to read further into the book. There is not always a solution. The author or anybody can't tell us how to prevent ourselves from being cheated in a definitive manner. It's also interesting to point out that the author may say highly of one method in a book but may change slightly in a later book. For example, as the author pointed out in the NOTE session, p.358-361, that in his book "Blink", he devoted a large chunk of Chapter 6 to a discussion of the work of Paul Ekman (FACS = Facial Action Coding System) but now (many years later), the universalism claimed by Ekman in the face expression has been shown to be untrue.
Last but not the least, I'd like to copy what Harry Markopolos (who tried to warn SEC about Madoff since May 2000) said, from the 2nd last line on p.97 to the 3rd line on p.98, "They trust the accounting firms, which you should never trust because they're incompetent. On a best day, they're incompetent, on a bad day they're crooked, and aiding and abetting the fraud, looking the other way." —— "They" here is "large organizations". :-)
p.25 (1st line): in the sentence "... whose job it is to monitor ...", "it" shouldn't be there. On p.59 (11th line from the bottom), "his" in the sentence "... In his recommendation ..." should have been "her" because the author was talking about Ana Belen Montes (Queen of Cuba)....Continua