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Talking to Strangers analyse

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Par   •  26 Novembre 2020  •  Commentaire d'oeuvre  •  1 025 Mots (5 Pages)  •  90 Vues

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Today, I wanted to talk to you about a book that completely changed my perception of humans and human behavior. This book is Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell. It shows us why we so often misjudge strangers and the most common mistakes we make. I’m a big fan of criminal series and most of these shows teach you one thing: that a person’s feelings, intentions and true meanings can be detected by the smallest muscle movements on our face, the direction of our eyes or even our body position. They teach us that we all have a universal body language that can be interpreted by professionals and used to judge complete strangers. And I used to believe that this was true. But what if, it wasn’t that simple? What if, it was all just a miss conception to make human beings feel more predictable, to make us feel in control and show that the orders of our law are actually capable of catching the bad guys this easily? That they have a bulletproof method, when in fact, they don’t.

Talking to Strangers shows us the most famous examples of why this theory just doesn’t work. History is full of stories where we thought we had it all figured out, until the moment that this illusion crumbled at our feet and had disastrous consequences. For some reason, we all believe that we can judge strangers and that’s the first mistake we make. This book works by showing us what’s wrong with real life examples instead of just explaining the problems and I want to tell you the first story from the book. Imagine this scenario: it’s 1987, we have one of the best Cuban spies that lives in Czechoslovakia who wants to defect, so he escapes to Austria, goes to the United States Embassy and asks for protection in exchange for information. This is such a big deal that a very high-ranking CIA officer is flown in just to talk to him. At this point in history, the US has a network of spies in Cuba whose reports helped shape America’s understanding of its adversary. So they get down to business and start talking, and almost immediately the Cuban defector names one of these American spies and says that he’s a double agent, he works for Cuba. Then he names another and says he’s a double too. And then another, and another and another until he names all of the US’ secret agents in Cuba. The room full of CIA agents is just stunned, they can’t believe this has happened as they were the ones who recruited these agents and they trusted them. And it got worse. READ P.23-24, 26-27.

This could all be explained by saying that the CIA is just bad at its job, that they don’t know what they are doing. But this is not the case.

The CIA wasn’t the only one to be deceived by strangers. Before the Second World War has started, only a very few foreign officials had met Hitler in person. The objective of these rare meeting was to get to know Hitler’s real intentions about War and all of these officials swore that Hitler did not want to start a world war, he just wanted to seize a small part of Czechoslovakia. On the other hand, the officials who never met with Hitler and had less knowledge and information about the situation thought that these people were fools for believing Hitler.

So how come, people with less information are better at judging strangers than the people who knew more details? How come we are so often deceived by people we don’t know?

This book gives us a few answers to this question.

The first mistake we make is that we think we can easily see into the hearts of others based on the smallest 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 we think that a stranger is easy. Well they are not.


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