Schneier on Security: The Kindness of Strangers

Schneier on Security: The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers

When I was growing up, children were commonly taught: “dont talk to strangers.” Strangers might be bad, we were told, so its 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 dont. 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, its not a random choice. Its more likely, although still unlikely, that the stranger is up to no good.

(I’ve ranted about this before, in talk to strangers and strangers)

posted at 8:52 am on Friday, March 13, 2009 in Links, Personal | Comments Off on Schneier on Security: The Kindness of Strangers

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