Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

This is the first book I ever took notes on, but it was all done from recollection as I didn’t start highlighting until much later. I enjoy reading authors that make me think, and Gladwell certainly falls into that mold. He is incredibly smart, but listening to him over the years on various podcasts and other mediums, I think he is also willing to admit when he makes mistakes — especially as some of this theories age out over the years.

— Default to Truth” — Unless we literally see something with our own eyes we want to believe that what someone is telling us, whether they are a stranger or not, is true. We don’t want to believe someone is lying to us, it’s just human nature

— We are terrible about judging others by their body movements, eye contact (or lack thereof), mannerism’s, quirks, eccentricities, etc. When we judge others based on the above, more often than not we are making a mistake (the “Transparency Assumption”)

— Judges, when they are making their final verdict in a trial (guilty or not, how long to sentence someone, etc.) are better not meeting with the defendant face-to-face, which is the norm for most judges. When they do this, they try to read their intentions, see if they are remorseful, apologetic, etc., and more often than not they make the wrong judgement and someone who really needs to be behind bars for a long time goes free and does something bad, and someone who shouldn’t be behind bars at all goes there for too long a time.

— The Sandusky case? Madoff? The case of a Cuban spy infiltrating the CIA an no one knowing about it? Default to Truth in some sense, and the fact that Madoff was a sociopath who came across as a Mensch.

— Even the Sandusky case, Gladwell makes a pretty compelling argument, not for Sandusky’s innocence, but in the collective innocence (in a sense) of the PSU President, Athletic Director, etc., and those that may or may not have known something and what they should or should not have done with that information. They defaulted to truth, not only because they knew Sandusky for years but also because there was a ton of holes in a lot of the information they were given. Really gave me a new perspective on the case.

— Drinking on college campuses is a major, major problem and not given enough attention, even in this era of “Me Too” and female abuse. When someone (male or female) drinks so much to excess and they “black out”, how much control do they have of any of their actions after that point? He takes care not to excuse male behavior, but makes another compelling argument that the issue may not be so much that males are abusing and bullying, but that when you throw alcohol into the mix (and usually to excess) the lines are completely blurred.

— Data! Humans suck at judging others so we need clear, hard data to help us make sense of it all. Judges, police officers, stock brokers, etc. Cold, hard data. I love data.

— Remember the Amanda Knox case? She was totally and completely innocent given all the reasonable facts of the case, but she was so quirky and weird that the Italian police just assumed that she was guilty because she would make a strange face, do something off-putting, say something strange, etc. Crazy!

I love books, I have a ton of them, and I take notes on all of them. I wanted to share all that I have learned and will continue to learn. I hope you enjoy.