Go forth and talk to strangers

By Confusion on Monday 23 March 2009 20:42 - Comments (3)
Category: Philosophy, Views: 2.948

I sometimes wonder why I keep taking the trouble of rummaging through the thousands of bits of information that RSS feeds offer me on a daily basis. As always, I don't have to wonder for long, for behold, I stumble upon another wonderfully educational insight:
When I was growing up, children were commonly taught: "don't talk to strangers." Strangers might be bad, we were told, so it's prudent to steer clear of them.

As it turns out, this is profoundly bad advice. Most people are honest, kind, and generous, especially when someone asks them for help. If a small child is in trouble, the smartest thing he can do is find a nice-looking stranger and talk to him.

The advice in each of these paragraphs may seem to contradict each other, but they don't. The difference is that in the second instance, the child is choosing which stranger to talk to. Given that the overwhelming majority of people will help, the child is likely to get help if he chooses a random stranger. But if a stranger comes up to a child and talks to him or her, it's not a random choice. It's more likely, although still unlikely, that the stranger is up to no good.
Bruce Schneier goes on to explain what the relevance of such an insight is for the trustworthiness of collaborative spam filtering, Tor and Wikipedia.

Volgende: Reclame onzin: zilvermoleculen 03-'09 Reclame onzin: zilvermoleculen
Volgende: The ability to predict a decision does not disprove free will 03-'09 The ability to predict a decision does not disprove free will

Comments


By Tweakers user Floort, Monday 23 March 2009 23:07

Maybe more important: It's fun to talk to strangers.

By Tweakers user GrooV, Monday 23 March 2009 23:52

Do I know you? ;)

By Tweakers user woekele, Tuesday 24 March 2009 07:17

Strangers must be assimilated! }:O

Comments are closed