Talking to strangers

This book gave me three important take-aways: 1. strangers are not easy to read; 2. we have a default to truth; 3. why the police in the US spends so much of its energy on catching traffic violations.

The first takeaway is kind of obvious, but the examples in the book made it more vivid. The second takeaway “that we have a default to truth”, was more profound. It is true for me at least, so this book helps me better understand how my mind operates. The third is a sad story of how police violence come into being, due to mistrust, and due to bad stats/causal learning.

Overall it was worth my time reading it, but the takeaways are too few for this famous best-seller.


  • 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.
  • To snap out of truth-default mode requires what Levine calls a “trigger”. A trigger is not the same as a suspicion, or the first silver of doubt.