Talking to Strangers

Talking to Strangers

What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know

Book - 2019
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In this thoughtful treatise spurred by the 2015 death of African-American academic Sandra Bland in jail after a traffic stop, New Yorker writer Gladwell (The Tipping Point) aims to figure out the strategies people use to assess strangers-to "analyze, critique them, figure out where they came from, figure out how to fix them," in other words: to understand how to balance trust and safety. He uses a variety of examples from history and recent headlines to illustrate that people size up the motivations, emotions, and trustworthiness of those they don't know both wrongly and with misplaced confidence
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown and Company, 2019
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316478526
0316478520
Characteristics: xii, 386 pages ; 22 cm

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VaughanPLTiziana Feb 24, 2020

A good read with some interesting insights. Malcolm Gladwell investigates what can go wrong when we interact with people we don't know. He uses many real scenarios from throughout history. I enjoyed the psychology aspect of this book and the many studies he discusses.

s
sgill3
Feb 20, 2020

Malcolm Gladwell is one of my favorite authors!

JCLHollyB Feb 20, 2020

Totz recco. A must read!

p
patcarstensen
Feb 12, 2020

There are about 3 big ideas in 345 pages, and I wish he had gotten to conclusions better than "we don't do a very good job at some things, but doing a good job would be result in a world worse than what we have." But it is a fun book.

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Einer2
Jan 29, 2020

As always Malcolm gives us an alternate way of looking at the world and the people and situations around us in a different way. It's unfortunate that network news doesn't use him to explain some of the ways he sees and interprets things.

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Bududo
Jan 27, 2020

The subject is an important topic that the author builds up to understand various aspects of where things go awry. Mr. Gladwell structures and presents each illustrative story in a way that we follow his conclusion. For the most part this works well. However, there are some cases where the author has not really established that his narrative is the only plausible one. Nevertheless, he makes a cogent case that communicating with strangers can be very fraught with misconceptions and misdirection. I have personally experienced this frustration so much of what he says resonates. The section on KSM, although fascinating, is a non-essential part of the primary narrative and appears to be a pad.

The Amanda Knox discussion was very interesting and seems to resolve what has bothered me about the case.

All in all, I recommend this book.

a
ADF1971
Jan 08, 2020

Taking complex, controversial subjects to a simple, ingestible form. We of course have the benefit of hindsight in all the examples provided so the critical thinking component is not there for the reader as the facts are slowly revealed. Quick and easy read that potentially will have you question how well you are at assessing someone and or a situation in the future.

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andrewhulme
Jan 06, 2020

I have read many of Gladwell's previous books and enjoyed them and learned from them. This book is not in the same league as his previous works. Perhaps its because the examples he discusses are from recent international news and are too familiar me? I get the impression that his latest work was written because 'he had to write a new book' to sustain his momentum. The only chapter that offer's Gladwell-style deep insights is chapter one. The others are duds.

k
kwsmith
Dec 29, 2019

In his usual pseudo-psychological journalist style, Gladwell unpacks the difficulty humans have determining when strangers are lying. I enjoyed the first part of the book, but found that the last part descended rapidly into sensational case studies that served more as journalistic "click bait" than as credible material for advancing his thesis. I think this is Gladwell's weakest book; however, it's still worth reading.

j
Jocko_7
Dec 27, 2019

Once again, Malcom Gladwell comes through with an extraordinary book which offers several perspectives on recent events. Mr. Gladwell lets people think about topics without being preachy, judgemental, or overly political.

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VaughanPLTiziana Feb 24, 2020

"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 easy. If I can convince you of one thing in this book, let it be this: Strangers are not easy."

"We have a default to truth: our operating assumption is that the people we are dealing with are honest."

"Default to truth becomes an issue when we are forced to choose between two alternatives, one of which is likely and the other of which is impossible to imagine."

"You believe someone not because you have no doubts about them. Belief is not the absence of doubt. You believe someone because you don’t have enough doubts about them."

"When we confront a stranger, we have to substitute an idea—a stereotype—for direct experience. And that stereotype is wrong all too often."

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JENNIFERES
Feb 08, 2020

The first set of mistakes we make with strangers - the default to truth and the illusion of transparency - has to do with our inability to make sense of the stranger as an individual. But on top of those errors we add another, which pushes our problem with strangers into crisis. We do not understand the importance of the context in which the stranger is operating.

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JENNIFERES
Feb 08, 2020

Sometimes the best conversations between strangers allow the stranger to remain a stranger. (p. XII)

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Docenos
Feb 03, 2020

Docenos thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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