Gladwell pre-dated ‘nudge’ (behavioural economics) with his culture book the Tipping Point and the Chimp Paradox (or thinking fast and slow) with Blink. In this new book he covers just how terrible we are at knowing if people are being truthful and the fascinating concept of 'coupling'.
Even the highly trained CIA turn out to be as hopeless as the average person at spotting liars who are convincing and honest people who look shifty. (Shifty liars and confident and honest we can do!).
We all think that we’re the exception of course and misplaced confidence abounds in every walk of life. In short, we think we 'know' who people are and why they do what they do – but, actually, we don’t. (Judges, for example, are more accurate working from paper-work alone than from a face to face with a defendant. It turns out that being able to ‘look into the whites of their eyes’ just confuses things)!
'Coupling' looks at how events either happen in very specific situations or, often, don’t happen at all. For example: female suicides significantly reduced when ovens were switched away from poisonous gases. Desperate women didn’t switch to more violent ‘male’ approaches they simply didn’t take their own lives at all. It’s a concept of-course hugely supportive of any methodologies pro-actively seeking to ‘break the chain’ and of Reason’s Cheese model.