Transcript: Malcolm Gladwell: Rethinking Familiarity | Oct 04, 2019

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "Rethinking unfamiliarity. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says ON ANY GIVEN DAY, WE
COMMUNICATE WITH PEOPLE WE DON'T
KNOW, OR DON'T KNOW WELL.
THOSE INTERACTIONS CAN BE
FRAUGHT WITH MISUNDERSTANDINGS
AND MISREADING.
AUTHOR AND PODCASTER MALCOLM
GLADWELL HAS TAKEN THIS IDEA AND
RUN WITH IT IN HIS FIRST BOOK IN
SIX YEARS.
IT'S CALLED, "TALKING TO
STRANGERS: WHAT WE SHOULD KNOW
ABOUT THE PEOPLE WE DON'T KNOW,"
AND IT BRINGS HIM TO OUR STUDIO
TONIGHT.

Malcom is in his mid-forties, clean-shaven, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a V-neck sweater over a blue shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is white, with a drawing of two overlapping speech balloons.

Steve continues WE ARE DELIGHTED TO WELCOME THE
PRIDE OF SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO BACK TO TVO.

Malcom says THANK YOU.

Steve says DO YOU WANT TO TAKE
A SECOND AND REMIND PEOPLE YOU
USED TO LIVE HERE?

Malcom says I GREW UP IN ELMIRA, ONTARIO.
MY DAD TAUGHT AT THE UNIVERSITY
OF WATERLOO, MY FAMILY ALL STILL
LIVE IN WATERLOO, I'M A LOCAL.
I'VE RETURNED HOME, HERE.

Steve says WE TAKE A CERTAIN
AMOUNT OF PRIDE IN YOUR SUCCESS.
WELL DONE.
THIS BOOK, I HAVE TO TELL YOU,
IS SUCH A FRESH LOOK AT HOW WE
SIZE PEOPLE UP THAT WE DON'T
KNOW AND HOW OUR FIRST
IMPRESSIONS MAY BE FAR MORE
VALUABLE THAN ACTUALLY TALKING
TO SOMEBODY FOR THREE OR FOUR OR
FIVE HOURS.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE NOTION
THAT THERE WAS A LOT MORE TO
LEARN ABOUT THIS THAN WHAT WAS
CURRENTLY UNDERSTOOD?

The caption changes to "Malcom Gladwell. Author, 'Talking to strangers.'"
Then, it changes again to "Truth and transparency."

Malcom says WELL, YOU KNOW, I BEGAN
LOOKING AT A SERIES OF
HIGH-PROFILE CASES THAT WE
WERE... WHAT WERE THE THINGS
THAT WE WERE KIND OF OBSESSED
WITH IN OUR SOCIETY?
AND I LOOKED AT... IF YOU LOOK
AT THE BERNIE MADOFF CASE WHERE
A LARGE GROUP OF INVESTORS WERE
WILLING TO ENTRUST MILLIONS...
BILLIONS, IN FACT, OF DOLLARS,
TO SOMEONE WHO THEY THOUGHT THEY
KNEW BUT IN FACT THEY DIDN'T.
THEN THERE WAS THE JERRY
SANDUSKY CASE AT PENN STATE
WHERE PEOPLE WORKED WITH A MAN,
HE WAS A FOOTBALL COACH, HE WAS
BELOVED, AND THEY DISCOVERED 20
YEARS LATER HE WAS A PEDOPHILE.
I COULD GO ON.
EACH ONE... THE STORY THAT I
STRUCTURED MY BOOK AROUND, THE
STORY OF SANDRA BLAND, SHE WAS A
YOUNG WOMAN PULLED OVER BY A
POLICE OFFICER AND FOR SOME
TRIVIAL REASON THEY GET INTO AN
ARGUMENT.
HE ENDS UP DRAGGING HER OUT OF
THE CAR.
SHE COMMITS SUICIDE IN HER CELL.
IF YOU LOOK... MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE HAVE WATCHED THAT
ENCOUNTER BECAUSE IT WAS
VIDEOTAPED ON THE OFFICER'S DASH
CAM.
IF YOU LISTEN TO THE VIDEOTAPE,
IT'S AN EPIC MISUNDERSTANDING...

Steve says ON BOTH SIDES.

Malcom says ON BOTH SIDES.
LARGELY ON THE POLICE OFFICER'S SIDE.

Steve says SURE.

Malcom says I BEGUN TO THINK, THERE IS
SOMETHING ABOUT THE WORLD THAT
WE LIVE IN NOW THAT MAKES...
THAT MAKES THESE KINDS OF
MISUNDERSTANDINGS STAND OUT AND
BE, ARE WE DOING SOMETHING
WRONG?
IS THE MODERN WORLD ASKING US TO
DO SOMETHING THAT WE'RE SIMPLY
NOT ADEPT AT DOING?
AND SO THAT'S WHERE THE BOOK
COMES FROM.

Steve says HOW MANY TIMES DO
YOU THINK YOU'VE WATCHED THE
VIDEO OF SANDRA BLAND BEING
ARRESTED BY THAT OFFICER?

Malcom says I MEAN, 25, 30... I MEAN, SO
MANY TIMES.
I MEAN, IN THE BOOK, IT BREAKS
DOWN THAT ENCOUNTER IN VERY,
VERY CLOSE... I DO A CLOSE
READING OF IT.

Steve says OH, YEAH.
YOU GO THROUGH CHAPTER AND VERSE
OF IT, LINE BY LINE BY LINE, AND
YOU SHOW HOW THE WHOLE THING
FALLS APART.
IF YOU'RE LIVING IT AT THE
MOMENT, COULD EITHER OF THE TWO
OF THEM HAVE INTERRUPTED WHAT
APPEARED TO BE AN INEXORABLE
SLOW TOWARDS TRAGEDY BY DOING
JUST ONE THING DIFFERENTLY AT
ONE KEY MOMENT?

The caption changes to "Malcom Gladwell, @Gladwell."

Malcom says WELL, AT THE END OF THE BOOK
I SORT OF CONCLUDE NO.
I THINK THE ONLY WAY TO... THAT
EPIC MISUNDERSTANDING WAS TO
HAVE A SYSTEM THAT... WHERE
POLICE OFFICERS DON'T STOP
PEOPLE FOR TRIVIAL REASONS IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.
IN OTHER WORDS, DON'T ENTER INTO
A SITUATION WHERE
MISUNDERSTANDING... THE RISK OF
MISUNDERSTANDING IS TOO HIGH.
THE REASONS WHY HUMAN BEINGS
MISUNDERSTAND EACH OTHER ARE
PRETTY KIND OF HARD-WIRED INTO
THE WAY WE MAKE SENSE OF THE
WORLD.
THAT'S ONE OF THE KIND OF
ARGUMENTS OF THE BOOK.
THAT THE VERY THINGS THAT MAKE
US GOOD AT INTERACTING WITH
PEOPLE WHO WE LOVE AND WHO ARE
INTIMATE WITH US, WHO ARE FAMILY
MEMBERS OR SOMETHING, MAKE IT
HARD FOR US TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE
WHO ARE OUTSIDE OF OUR KIND OF
INTIMATE CIRCLE.
AND THEY'RE PRETTY FORMIDABLE
OBSTACLES.
SO I THINK WE HAVE TO
RESTRUCTURE OUR WORLD AROUND
THIS VULNERABILITY.
THERE'S NO WAY TO SEND POLICE
OFFICERS... WELL, YOU COULD
TRY... BUT I DON'T THINK YOU CAN
SEND POLICE OFFICERS OR JOB
INTERVIEWERS OR JUDGES OR
INTERVIEWERS OF TV SHOWS TO SOME
KIND OF SCHOOL WHERE THEY CAN
LEARN TO DO BETTER WITH
STRANGERS.
THAT STRIKES ME AS BEING A TALL
ORDER.

Steve says I SPEND A LOT OF MY
TIME TALKING TO POLITICIANS, AND
ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND
INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR BOOK IS
THAT YOU THINK THAT MOST OF THE
INTERACTIONS, THE VAST MAJORITY
OF INTERACTIONS THAT HAPPEN
AMONG PEOPLE IN OUR WORLD, ARE
ACTUALLY PEOPLE TELLING THE
TRUTH TO EACH OTHER.
AND OF COURSE I'M IN A JOB WHERE
I'VE BEEN TOLD THAT VIRTUALLY
EVERY INTERACTION I'M GOING TO
HAVE WITH A POLITICIAN WILL
START WITH, IF NOT AN OUTRIGHT
LIE, THEN AT LEAST A KIND OF...
YOU KNOW, A FUDGING OF THE TRUTH
IN ORDER TO GET THEIR SIDE
FORWARD.
HAVE I BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL
THESE YEARS?
I SHOULD BE DEFAULTING TO TRUTH?

Malcom says YEAH, THIS IS... AN IDEA THAT
I EXPLORE AT LENGTH IN THE BOOK
IS THIS NOTION THAT WE EVOLVE AS
TRUSTING MACHINES, HUMAN BEINGS
DO.
YOU KNOW, THE REASON WE HAVE
MANAGED TO BUILD THE SOCIETY WE
HAVE IS THAT WE IMPLICITLY
BELIEVE WHAT WE'RE TOLD.
IT TAKES A LOT TO SORT OF SHAKE
US OUT OF THE DEFAULT OF TRUTH.
AND THAT'S WHY WE'RE SO EASILY
DECEASED BY PEOPLE LIKE BERNIE
MADOFF OR PEOPLE TRYING TO PULL
THE WOOL OVER OUR EYES.
BUT THE PREMISE OF THAT IDEA IS
IT'S A GOOD STRATEGY BECAUSE
MOST PEOPLE ARE TELLING THE
TRUTH, AND THAT LIES ARE TOLD BY
A VERY SMALL NUMBER OF PEOPLE,
REAL SERIOUS, MALICIOUS LIES.

Steve says HOW DO WE KNOW THAT, ACTUALLY?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Malcom says WELL, THIS IS SOMETHING
THAT... A GROUP OF PSYCHOLOGISTS
WHO STUDIED THIS WHO SPENT A LOT
OF TIME TRYING TO KIND OF FIGURE
THAT OUT, AND, YOU KNOW, HUGE
NUMBERS OF SURVEYS, ANALYSES OF
RECORDED SPEECH... THERE'S MANY
WAYS TO LOOK AT IT.
AND WHEN YOU DO LOOK AT IT, THE
NUMBER OF CONSEQUENTIAL LIES
THAT YOU AND I TELL IN THE
COURSE OF A DAY, IT'S VERY
SMALL.
THERE'S JUST NO REASON... MOST
OF THE TIME WE REALIZE, TO TELL
A LIE, A DELIBERATE, A REAL ONE,
NOT A WHITE LIE... YOU
KNOW, "WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR
LUNCH?"
AND YOU OMIT THE CHOCOLATE BAR
BECAUSE YOU'RE ASHAMED OF THAT.
A LIE IS WHEN YOU GO HOME AND
YOU TELL YOUR WIFE THAT, YOU
KNOW, SOME PREPOSTEROUS FICTION.
YOU SAY YOU WERE HERE WHEN YOU
WERE, IN FACT, MILES AWAY.
MOST OF RECOGNIZE THAT TELLING
A LIE CREATES MORE TROUBLE THAN
IT'S WORTH.
WE DON'T.
ONE OF THE THINGS YOU SORT OF
LEARN AS A CHILD IS TO TELL A
BALD-FACED LIE IS JUST AN
INVITATION TO TROUBLE.
SO THE NUMBER OF REAL... YOU
REALLY HAVE TO HAVE A STRONG
MOTIVATION TO TELL A WHOPPER.
AND ONCE YOU REALIZE THAT ONLY
SMALL NUMBERS OF PEOPLE TELL
WHOPPERS, THEN ACTUALLY IT'S NOT
A BAD STRATEGY JUST TO BELIEVE
EVERYTHING.
YOU MENTION POLITICIANS.
I WOULD DISPUTE THAT POLITICIANS
LIE A LOT.
I ACTUALLY THINK WHAT THEY DO IS
THEY MAY OMIT, CAREFULLY OMIT
CERTAIN FACTS OR THEY MAY GIVE
YOU A GENEROUS READING OF THEIR
OWN POSITION, OR THEY ACT AS THE
HOME CROWD DOES IN A HOCKEY
GAME.
YOU KNOW, A PENALTY HAPPENS ON
THE ICE THAT GOES AGAINST YOUR
TEAM AND YOU BOO LUSTILY BECAUSE
YOU'RE JUST NOT WILLING TO ADMIT
THAT THAT PENALTY... BUT IS THAT
DELIBERATE DECEPTION?
NO, I DON'T THINK SO.

Steve says DO YOU HAVE ANY
ADDITIONAL DIFFICULTY MAKING
THAT ARGUMENT AT THIS PARTICULAR
MOMENT IN THIS PARTICULAR
COUNTRY WHERE THE TWO LEADERS OF
THE TWO MAIN POLITICAL PARTIES
HAVE JUST BOTH BEEN KIND OF
HOIST ON THEIR PETARD, ONE
DRAMATICALLY AWFUL EXAMPLE WITH
JUSTIN TRUDEAU'S
BLACKFACE-BROWNFACE, BUT ANDREW
SCHEER HAVING BEEN OUTED AS
HAVING FUDGED HIS RESUME JUST A
LITTLE BIT.

Malcom says SO, THAT'S... I WOULD PUT
THAT IN A CATEGORY... THOSE TWO
THINGS IN THE CATEGORY OF... I
WOULDN'T CALL THOSE HIGHLY
CONSEQUENTIAL DECEPTIONS.
A CONSEQUENTIAL DECEPTION IS A
PEDOPHILE PRETENDING TO BE AN
UPSTANDING MEMBER OF THE
COMMUNITY OR BERNIE MADOFF
PRETENDING TO INVEST PEOPLE'S
MONEY WHERE HE'S CONSTRUCTING
THING OUT OF OLD CLOTH OR ADOLF
HITLER SAYING I HAVE NO
INTENTIONS OF INVADING COUNTRIES
IN 1938.
THOSE ARE ALL LIES.
ONE OF THE THINGS WE DO TO OUR
PERIL IS TO CONFUSE THE KIND OF
EVERYDAY SHADING OF THE TRUTH
WHICH... ALL RIGHT, THAT'S JUST
PART OF THE WAY SOCIETY WORKS,
WITH THESE KINDS OF REALLY
TROUBLING, DEVASTATING
DECEPTIONS.
YOU KNOW, IN THE BOOK I TELL A
NUMBER OF SPY STORIES, TRYING TO
ANSWER THE QUESTION, HOW IS IT
THAT OVER AND OVER AND OVER
AGAIN VERY, VERY SOPHISTICATED
SPY SERVICES GET DECEIVED BY
DOUBLE AGENTS.
A DOUBLE AGENT IS TELLING A
PROFOUND LIE.
THEY ARE PRETENDING TO BE X AND
THEY'RE TELLING Y.
THAT'S WHAT I'M FOCUSED ON.
WHY IT'S SO HARD TO TELL WHEN
THAT KIND OF A LIE IS BEING
TOLD.

Steve says I WANT TO FOLLOW UP
ON THE HITLER THING BECAUSE THAT
IS QUITE... WILLIAM LYON
MACKENZIE KING, CANADA'S PRIME
MINISTER BEFORE WORLD WAR II
BROKE OUT, WENT TO BERLIN, HAD A
MEETING WITH HITLER, THEY
CONTINUED TO BE IN TOUCH AFTER
THAT MEETING WAS OVER.
HE CERTAINLY FELT HE HAD AN
UNDERSTANDING OF THE MAN.

Malcom says YEAH.

Steve says NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN,
OF COURSE, A VERY FAMOUS SERIES
OF MEETINGS WITH ADOLF HITLER.
YOU WOULD THINK ALL OF THAT
PERSONAL CONTACT WOULD HAVE
COUNTED FOR SOMETHING.
WINSTON CHURCHILL, WHO NEVER MET
HITLER, CERTAINLY UNDERSTOOD HIM
WAY BETTER THAN EITHER OF THOSE
TWO MEN. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?

Malcom says I HAVE A WHOLE CHAPTER ON THE
NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN PARADOX.
THE PEOPLE WHO MET HITLER, PRIOR
TO WORLD WAR II, TENDED TO BE
THE ONES WHO HAD THE MOST
DIFFICULTY SEEING HITLER FOR
WHO HE REALLY WAS.
THOSE WHO UNDERSTOOD HITLER TO
BE THE MONSTER HE WAS WERE THE
ONES WHO NEVER MET HIM.
CHURCHILL, TO MY ASTONISHMENT,
I THOUGHT HE HAD.
CHURCHILL NEVER MET HITLER.
STALIN NEVER MET HITLER.
FDR NEVER MET HITLER.
THOSE WHO DID, LIKE KING AND
CHAMBERLAIN, FELL UNDER HIS
SPELL AND DID NOT PERCEIVE HIM
FOR WHO HE REALLY WAS.
THAT CHAPTER IS ALL ABOUT THE
NOTION THAT IT IS NOT THE CASE
THAT MEETING SOMEONE FACE TO
FACE NECESSARILY GIVES YOU
GREATER INSIGHT INTO THEIR TRUE
INTENTIONS.
IN MANY CASES THE OPPOSITE CAN
HAPPEN.
IT IS NOT THE CASE, FOR EXAMPLE,
THAT A JUDGE WHO MEETS A
DEFENDANT CAN DO A BETTER JOB OF
CORRECTLY DETERMINING WHETHER
THE DEFENDANT DESERVES BAIL THAN
SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T MEET THE
DEFENDANT.
THERE'S NOTHING... THE KIND OF
INFORMATION THAT YOU'RE
GATHERING IN THAT SORT OF BRIEF
ENCOUNTER OR NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN
HAVING COFFEE WITH ADOLF HITLER,
THE INFORMATION HE GATHERS IS
NOT THAT USEFUL.
IN FACT, IT MAY BE HARMFUL.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says THAT'S VERY UNSETTLING.

Malcom says IT IS.
IT SUGGESTS... AND THIS IS A
PERSONAL CRUSADE OF MINE... THAT
MANY JOB INTERVIEWS ARE A BAD
IDEA.
IN OTHER WORDS, IT'S NOT A BAD
IDEA TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE
PERSON YOU'RE HIRING.
IT MAY BE A BAD IDEA TO MEET THE
PERSON THAT YOU'RE HIRING.
BECAUSE WHAT EXACTLY IS THE
VALUE OF THE FACE-TO-FACE
ENCOUNTER?
YOU KNOW, WE NEED TO SORT OF
PROBE INTO THAT.
IT MAY BE THAT EVERYTHING WE'RE
GATHERING FROM THAT IS
IRRELEVANT TO THE TASK OF
DECIDING SOMEONE'S FITNESS FOR A JOB.

Steve says WELL, I THINK YOU GO FURTHER.
THE FAMOUS AMANDA KNOX CASE IN
ITALY WHERE SHE APPARENTLY
DIDN'T BEHAVE THE WAY WE EXPECT
A PERSON WHO IS IN THE
CROSSHAIRS OF GUILT OUGHT TO
BEHAVE AND AS A RESULT WENT TO JAIL.

Malcom says YEAH.
REMEMBER THAT CASE.
THIS WAS THIS STAPLE IN THE
TABLOID HEADLINES FOR YEARS
AROUND THE WORLD.
A YOUNG AMERICAN WOMAN WHO HAS
MOVED TO ITALY FOR A YEAR ABROAD
AND IS FALSELY ACCUSED OF
MURDERING HER ROOMMATE.
AND THERE LITERALLY WAS NO
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE LINKING HER TO
THE CRIME.
I MEAN, WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A
DOUBT IN RETROSPECT, SHE WAS
INNOCENT.
YET PEOPLE WERE CONVINCED SHE
WAS GUILTY LARGELY BECAUSE HER
BEHAVIOUR IN THE WAKE OF HER
ROOMMATE'S DEATH DID NOT MATCH
PEOPLE'S KIND OF STEREOTYPE
ABOUT THE WAY SOMEONE WHO WAS
GRIEVING OUGHT TO BEHAVE.
AND ON THE BASIS OF THAT,
COMPLETELY ERRONEOUS INFERENCE
FROM SOMEONE ELSE'S BEHAVIOUR,
PEOPLE LEAPT TO THE CONCLUSION
SHE MUST BE GUILTY.
AND SHE SPENT FOUR YEARS IN AN
ITALIAN PRISON.
IT'S A REALLY STRIKING EXAMPLE
ABOUT HOW TRULY TERRIBLE WE CAN
BE AT READING A STRANGER.

Steve says BUT THAT'S THE
UNSETTLING PART OF ALL OF THIS.
YOU KNOW, I WOULD ASSUME, AFTER
59 YEARS OF WATCHING PEOPLE,
TALKING TO PEOPLE, PICKING UP ON
THEIR CUES, THAT I HAVE SOME
SENSE ABOUT... SOME SENSE ABOUT
WHAT THEY'RE... AND YOU'RE
SHAKING YOUR HEAD ALREADY.

Malcom says YOU DON'T.

Steve says I DON'T, DO I?

Malcom says NOR DO.
I'M IN THE SAME BUSINESS AS YOU.
WE DO THIS FOR A LIVING.
I'VE BEEN TALKING TO STRANGERS
FOR 35 YEARS AS A JOURNALIST AND
I CAN SAY NOW WITH ABSOLUTE
CERTAINTY THAT I AM PROBABLY NO
BETTER AT IT TODAY THAN I WAS
WHEN I STARTED.
I MAY THINK THAT I'M BETTER.
BUT ALMOST CERTAINLY I AM NOT.

Steve says LET ME TAKE YOU TO
COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES.
YOU HAVE, AGAIN, A VERY
UNSETTLING STORY IN THE BOOK
ABOUT WHAT CAN HAPPEN WHEN
STUDENTS GET DRUNK, NEVER MIND
THE LOSS OF INHIBITIONS WHEN YOU
HAVE TOO MUCH ALCOHOL, BUT SO
MUCH MORE BEYOND THAT THAT YOU
ALSO DISCOVERED.
FOR EXAMPLE...

Malcom says YEAH.
SO THIS WAS A CASE THAT WAS... I
DON'T KNOW WHETHER IT MADE
HEADLINES UP HERE BUT IT WAS A
HUGE CASE IN THE UNITED STATES
TWO YEARS AGO.
A YOUNG MAN ON THE STANFORD
CAMPUS WAS CONVICTED OF SEXUALLY
ASSAULTING A WOMAN, A YOUNG
WOMAN, AND IT WAS... AFTER A
FRATERNITY PARTY LATE ON A
SATURDAY NIGHT.
AND BOTH PEOPLE IN THIS
INCIDENT... IN THIS EPISODE,
WERE VERY, VERY DRUNK.
SO THE WOMAN WAS BLACKOUT DRUNK.
SHE WAS SO DRUNK THAT HER
HIPPOCAMPUS HAD SHUT DOWN AND
THE GUY WAS TWICE THE LEGAL
LIMIT.
IF YOU LOOK AT CAMPUS SEXUAL
ASSAULTS, WHICH ARE ACROSS NORTH
AMERICA RISING AT EPIDEMIC
RATES, YOU WILL DISCOVER THAT
IT'S OVERWHELMINGLY THE PAT
INTERPRET THAT ALMOST ALWAYS
THEY TAKE PLACE IN THE PRESENCE
OF SEVERE INEBRIATION WITH ONE
OR BOTH OF THE PARTIES.
WHEN YOU LOOK AT CAMPUS SEXUAL
ASSAULT, ALCOHOL IS VERY OFTEN
ABSENT FROM THE DISCUSSION.
I WANTED TO DO A CHAPTER, SINCE
I WAS WRITING A BOOK ABOUT
MISCOMMUNICATION, WELL, CAMPUS
SEXUAL ASSAULTS MIGHT BE A GOOD
SITUATION TO ANALYSE.
SO I WENT AROUND TALKING TO
PEOPLE WHO STUDY THEM, AND EVERY
SINGLE ONE OF THOSE RESEARCHERS
WHO STUDY THIS EPIDEMIC PROBLEM,
THE FIRST THING OUT OF THEIR
MOUTH WAS, WELL, YOU'RE GOING TO
TALK ABOUT ALCOHOL, AREN'T YOU?
I HADN'T INTENDED TO.
AND THEY'RE LIKE, WELL, THESE
THINGS ARE ABOUT ALCOHOL.
YOU CAN'T DISCUSS SEXUAL ASSAULT
WITHOUT TAKING THAT INTO
ACCOUNT. AND SO THAT'S WHAT
THE CHAPTER IS ABOUT.
IT'S ABOUT, UNDER THE BEST OF
CIRCUMSTANCES, COMMUNICATION
BETWEEN TWO YOUNG PEOPLE IS
GOING TO BE DIFFICULT.
THEY'RE IMMATURE, THEY DON'T
KNOW THE RULES, THEY'RE TRYING
TO WORK OUT SOMETHING THAT'S
VERY... SEXUAL CONSENT IS AN
EXTREMELY COMPLICATED ISSUE
UNDER THE BEST OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I ADD HUGE
AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL TO THE MIX.
AND I EXPLORE THIS NEW THEORY OF
INEBRIATION, WHICH IS THE MYOPIA
THEORY: WHAT DRUNKENNESS IS
DOING IS NOT REVEALING YOUR TRUE
SELF. IT'S NOT THAT IT STRIPS
AWAY ALL THE THINGS THAT HIDE MY
TRUE INTENTIONS. IT DOES THE
OPPOSITE. IT SHUTS DOWN ALL MY
HIGHER COGNITIVE PROCESSES AND
MAKES ME SOMEONE WHO IS AT THE
MERCY OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN THE
MOMENT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME.
I AM MYOPIC. WHEN YOU ARE
MYOPIC, YOU ARE NOT YOURSELF.
OUR NORMAL SELVES, THE REASON WE
ARE HUMAN IS THAT WE ARE NOT
MYOPIC.
WE ARE CAPABLE OF THINKING A DAY
AHEAD, A MONTH AHEAD, A YEAR
AHEAD, ON AND ON AND ON.
THE REASON I DON'T GET UP
ANGRILY AND WALK OUT OF THIS
STUDIO, EVEN IF I MIGHT WANT TO,
SUPPOSE YOU INSULTED ME, RIGHT?
I DON'T DO THAT BECAUSE I
REALIZE, OH, THAT'S GOING TO
LOOK REALLY BAD WHEN THIS AIRS
ON FRIDAY, RIGHT?
SO ALL OF US AS HUMAN BEINGS ARE
THINKING AHEAD.
THAT'S TAKEN AWAY WHEN WE'RE
DRUNK.
SO WHEN YOU GET TWO TEENAGERS
WHO ARE DRUNK OUT OF THEIR MINDS
TRYING TO NEGOTIATE MATTERS OF
CONSENT, THEY ARE NOT
NEGOTIATING AS THEIR TRUE
SELVES.
THEY'RE NEGOTIATING AS SOME KIND
OF SHRUNKEN VERSION OF
THEMSELVES.
THAT'S WHY SEXUAL ASSAULT IS SO
PROBLEMATIC.
BECAUSE YOU WAKE UP IN THE
MORNING AND YOU REALIZE THAT
SOMETHING HAPPENED THAT YOU HAD
NO INTENTION OF HAPPENING.

Steve says AND CHANCES ARE YOU
MAY NOT EVEN REMEMBER.

Malcom says AND CHANCES ARE YOU MAY NOT
EVEN REMEMBER.

Steve says SHOULD WE BAN DRUGS
AND ALCOHOL ON CAMPUS IN ORDER
TO REDUCE THE NUMBERS OF SEXUAL ASSAULTS?

Malcom says I THINK THAT'S PROBABLY GOING
TOO FAR AND JUST WILL DRIVE
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL UNDERGROUND.
I WENT TO COLLEGE, YOU KNOW, A
MILE FROM HERE, UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO, AND THE DRINKING
PATTERNS THERE WERE VERY
DIFFERENT FROM THE DRINKING
PATTERNS ON TODAY'S... THIS IS
MANY YEARS AGO.
I'M AN OLD MAN.

Steve says YOU'RE YOUNGER THAN
ME, YOUNG FELLA.

Malcom says THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME YOUNG.

Steve laughs and says OUCH!

Malcom says NO, I MEAN...
[LAUGHTER]
IT WOULD BE ONE THING IF YOU
WERE 31 AND I WAS 28.
SO I THINK WE NEED TO MODERATE
IT.
SO WHEN I WAS ON CAMPUS, WE
DRANK BEER ALMOST
OVERWHELMINGLY.
IT'S VERY, VERY HARD TO GET
BLACKOUT DRUNK ON BEER.
IN FACT, VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE.
TODAY THEY'RE DRINKING HARD
LIQUOR.
THAT'S ONE PROBLEM.
THE SECOND PROBLEM IS THAT WHEN
I WAS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES, WOMEN
DID NOT MATCH MEN DRINK FOR
DRINK.
TODAY THEY DO OVERWHELMINGLY.
AND THAT PHYSIOLOGICALLY
CATASTROPHIC BECAUSE WOMEN ARE
SMALLER AND PROCESS ALCOHOL VERY
DIFFERENTLY THAN MEN.
AND THE THIRD THING IS, THERE
WAS A LOT OF SUPERVISION AT OUR
PARTIES, AND THERE SEEMS TO BE
MUCH LESS, PARTICULARLY ON
AMERICAN COLLEGE CAMPUSES, MUCH
LESS ADULT SUPERVISION.
AND YOU MUST HAVE ADULT
SUPERVISION.
I MEAN, THE CASE I WAS
DESCRIBING WAS AT STANFORD
UNIVERSITY.
IT HAS AN ENDOWMENT OF
30 BILLION dollars.
THEY CAN AFFORD TO HAVE A SOBER
ADULT JUST WALKING AROUND AND
OBSERVING AT A FRIDAY NIGHT,
SATURDAY NIGHT PARTY.
THEY DON'T.
THAT JUST SEEMS TO ME THE HEIGHT
OF FOOLISHNESS.
THAT SAYS TO ME THAT THEY AREN'T
TAKING THE PROBLEM OF
DRUNKENNESS SERIOUSLY, RIGHT?
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT IF
YOU HAVE 19-YEAR-OLDS WHO HAVE.24 ALCOHOL IN THEIR...
BLOOD-ALCOHOL LEVELS...

Steve says THREE TIMES THE
LEGAL LIMIT.

Malcom says THREE TIMES THE LEGAL LIMIT.
YOU BETTER HAVE SOMEONE WALKING
AROUND THE PARTY MAKING SURE
PEOPLE DON'T DO SOMETHING
PROFOUNDLY STUPID.

Steve says I WANT TO SET UP THE
NEXT QUESTION BY READING AN
EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK.
SHELDON, LET'S BRING THAT UP.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Transparency." The quote reads "The transparency problem ends up in the same place as the default-to-truth problem. We have strategies for dealing with strangers that are deeply flawed, but they are also socially necessary. We need the criminal justice system and the hiring process and the selection of babysitters to be human. But the requirement of humanity means that we have to tolerate an enormous amount of error. That is the paradox of talking to strangers. We need to talk to them. But we're terrible at it... and we're not always honest with each other about just how terrible at it we are."
Quoted from Malcom Gladwell, "Talking to strangers." 2019.

Malcom says YEAH.

Steve says THUS, WHAT DO WE DO?

The caption changes to "A new way to meet people."

Malcom says WELL, I THINK WE HAVE TO...
THERE'S NO SIMPLE ANSWER, FIRST OF ALL.
AT THE END OF THE BOOK WHAT I
SAY IS, WE NEED TO BE CAUTIOUS
AND HUMBLE IN OUR ABILITY TO
MAKE SENSE OF STRANGERS.
WE NEED TO MODERATE CERTAIN
KINDS OF... YOU KNOW, I SPEND
THE LAST QUOTE OF THE BOOK
TALKING ABOUT, WHAT DOES
POLICING LOOK LIKE IN AN URBAN
AREA?
IF YOU UNDERSTAND THAT IT'S
VERY, VERY DIFFICULT FOR A
POLICE OFFICER TO MAKE SENSE OF
A CIVILIAN WHEN THEY STOPPED
THEM IN A TRAFFIC STOP OR STOP
THEM WHEN THEY'RE WALKING DOWN
THE STREET.
SO THERE ARE WAYS TO KIND OF
ALTER OUR INSTITUTIONAL
PRACTICES TO ACCOUNT FOR HOW
BADLY WE ARE AT THIS.
ANOTHER WAY MIGHT BE... YOU
KNOW, WHEN I HIRE PEOPLE NOW, I
HIRED MY CURRENT ASSISTANT, AND
I MADE HER REMOVE THE NAMES OF
ALL OF THE INSTITUTIONS SHE
ATTENDED ON HER RESUME, AND THEN
I DIDN'T MEET HER, I SKYPED WITH
HER, BUT I DELIBERATELY DIDN'T
MEET HER FACE TO FACE.

Steve says BECAUSE...

Malcom says BECAUSE I WAS WORRIED THAT
ANY INFORMATION I GATHERED FROM
MEETING HER FACE TO FACE WOULD
BE IRRELEVANT... MORE THAN
IRRELEVANT.
IT WOULD BE HARMFUL TO MY
ABILITY TO MAKE AN ACCURATE
ASSESSMENT OF HER.
WHY DOES IT MATTER WHETHER SHE'S
TALL OR SHORT, WHETHER HER HAIR
IS BLOND OR BLACK, WHETHER...
HOW SHE DRESSES, WHETHER SHE HAS
A MASSIVE TATTOO ON HER ARM OR
NOT.
THOSE ARE THE KIND OF THINGS I
WOULD GATHER FROM A FACE-TO-FACE
ENCOUNTER.
THEY'RE ALL IRRELEVANT TO MY
TASK OF...

Steve says COULDN'T YOU PICK UP
A TELL IF SHE WAS FUDGING SOME
INFORMATION BETTER IF YOU WERE
THIS CLOSE TO HER?

Malcom says I DON'T THINK PEOPLE RELIABLY
GIVE TELLS NOR DO I HAVE
CONFIDENCE IN MY ABILITY TO PICK
UP ON THEM EVEN IF THEY DID.
IN FUTURE I INTEND TO DO THIS
ENTIRELY ON EMAIL.
I DON'T THINK I SHOULD MEET THEM
AT ALL.

Steve says NOT EVEN LOOK AT THEM ON SKYPE?

Malcom says THAT WAS A MISTAKE, ACTUALLY.
I REGRET SKYPING WITH HER.
AND SHE WOULD SAY WHAT?
IF I MADE A LIST OF ALL THE
THINGS SHE HAS TO DO IN HER
JOB... BY THE WAY, SHE'S VERY
GOOD AT IT... BUT NONE ARE
THINGS I COULD GATHER FROM A
FACE-TO-FACE ENCOUNTER.
SHE NEEDS TO BE CONSCIENTIOUS,
HARD-WORKING, A SELF-STARTER,
SHE NEEDS TO BE INCREDIBLY
DILIGENT, SHE CAN'T, LIKE, MAKE
MISTAKES.
SHE HAS TO THINK FOR ME.
SHE HAS TO WORK WELL REMOTELY
BECAUSE I'M NOT AROUND A LOT.
TELL ME OF THOSE TRAITS I'VE
JUST GIVEN YOU, ARE ANY OF THEM
THINGS YOU CAN UNIQUELY PICK UP
FROM A FACE-TO-FACE ENCOUNTER?

Steve says ONE THING YOU COULD
PICK UP FROM A FACE-TO-FACE
ENCOUNTER, AM I GOING TO GET
ALONG WITH THIS PERSON?

Malcom says THAT'S AT THE BOTTOM OF MY
LIST.
I DON'T NEED TO... AS IT
HAPPENS, I GET ALONG WITH HER.
I THINK MOST OF US GET ALONG...
IF SOMEONE IS DILIGENT AND
HARD-WORKING, I THINK WE ALWAYS
GET ALONG.
I'VE NEVER NOT GOT ALONG WITH
SOMEONE WHO IS A HARD-WORKING
CONSCIENTIOUS PERSON.

Steve says DO YOU THINK WE'RE
GETTING ALONG OKAY RIGHT NOW?

Malcom says WE'RE DOING VERY WELL.

Steve says BECAUSE WE HAVE THIS
FACE-TO-FACE CONNECTION.

Malcom says NO, BUT I'D GET ALONG WITH
YOU IF THIS WAS ON THE PHONE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Carla Lucchetta, @carrletta."

Steve says THAT'S TERRIFIC.
WE'RE PLUMB OUT OF TIME.
YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO COME
BACK BECAUSE WE'RE GOING TO TALK
ABOUT PODCASTING NEXT TIME AND
HOW YOU GET YOUR IDEAS NEXT TIME
AND WHY YOU'RE SO DAMN GOOD NEXT
TIME.
BUT FOR THIS TIME, THIS HAS BEEN
"TALKING TO STRANGERS" WITH
MALCOLM GLADWELL AND WE'RE
DELIGHTED YOU COULD MAKE SOME
TIME FOR US AT TVO TONIGHT.

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Malcom says THANK YOU. MY PLEASURE.

Steve says THANK YOU.

Watch: Malcolm Gladwell: Rethinking Familiarity