Talking to Strangers
What We Should Know About the People We Don't KnowBook - 2019 | First edition
From Library Staff
In this treatise spurred by the 2015 death of African-American academic Sandra Bland in jail after a traffic stop, New Yorker writer Gladwell 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 th... Read More »
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"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."
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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