Hello Internet!

Back again with another TRUSTworthy blog from your weekly blogger whyhello. After rafting through the rapid waters of the third chapter and almost falling through a portal of never-ending questions in the fourth,  the book “Liars and Outliers” by Bruce Schneier continuously contorts my brain in ways I could never have imagined. It has really made me ponder on how human beings could have lived for such a long time by using trust – a simple, yet very significant word (probably why Schneier wrote a whole book on it!).

In the third chapter, Schneier describes the metaphorical model (Hawk-Dove game) created by John Maynard Smith and George R. Price in 1971 to illustrate conflicts between animals of the same species. This model can also be profoundly used to depict real life. In this model, the Doves are the cooperators and the Hawks are the defectors. Schneier then elaborates on different situations where for example: 50% Doves and 50% Hawks, more Doves than Hawks, more Hawks than Doves, one Hawk and the rest doves and vice versa; also if the Doves can identify a Hawk the situation would have fewer Hawks. You get the idea. From this he concludes that in neither situation will one is guaranteed to dominate. Of course the best scenario would be where the whole population consists of Doves, but if only the game started out that way. Despite all this, one Doves and become Hawks and Hawks can become doves, the whole scenario changes – resulting in a society like ours.

It was extremely intriguing watching Schneier present situations from different ends of the spectrum and seeing what the ultimate outcome would be. However, in almost all the scenarios it almost seems that the Hawks would be the minority. This brings me onto my next point on how to control the number of Hawks and Doves in our world.

In order to have a successful and thriving human society, we would all have to combine these prosocial traits together: cooperation, altruism, kindness, trustworthiness, and fairness. Yes they may seem like a lot of things but as human beings we have evolved so much that these behavioural traits have come as second-nature. Yet indeed we would express these traits more comfortably with people who are related to us (kin helping kin), thus we would definitely be more altruistic with family members compared to friend and strangers. However, society does not function that way; we now have expanded our trust to a wider region, simply trusting more and more people besides our family members. Why? Because as human beings, we have learnt that the more people we know and trust would mean there would be higher chances where that person can help us. It also works the other way around and it turns out both of parties gain from each other – mutual gain. This all comes down to trust.

Just to finish off I have one last point to add.

In this day and age, trust has become a bit of blur, being both a necessity and a threat; this is due to the explosion of the internet and social media. Identity theft has led to a misuse of trust, profile pictures acting as illusions as people are being dishonest on the web. Luckily, us humans have developed over time societal pressures, means of which we as a society can impose “taxes” to deter and discourage Hawks. Not only have we developed formal societal pressures such as security systems, governments, courts and judges; but the informal societal pressures include morals and reputation. A very prominent example would be Sexual Infidelity as once a partner has been caught being dishonest, word will spread like wild-fire and everyone would identify that person as being dishonest – and of course who wants to be known as the dishonest person. No-one.

I personally find celebrities the most affected by societal pressures nowadays. Due to the instantaneity of the internet, netizens have the upmost right to speak their mind and tend to not hold back their comments about a certain celebrity who makes a mistake which can become very extreme at times. Personally I find this unfair that a specific person gets attacked by so many people just because they are a celebrity, but hey, I think societal pressures have really kept us human beings on track, thus influencing other to not do the same!

See you in the next blog post!




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