Talk to Strangers

In an art­icle dis­cuss­ing col­lab­or­at­ive spam fil­ter­ing and the Tor pro­ject, Bruce Schnei­er offers some refresh­ing advice: telling chil­dren not to talk to strangers isn’t strictly the best advice:

When I was grow­ing up, chil­dren were com­monly taught: “don’t talk to strangers.” Strangers might be bad, we were told, so it’s prudent to steer clear of them.

And yet most people are hon­est, kind, and gen­er­ous, espe­cially when someone asks them for help. If a small child is in trouble, the smartest thing he can do is find a nice-look­ing stranger and talk to him.

These two pieces of advice may seem to con­tra­dict each oth­er, but they don’t. The dif­fer­ence is that in the second instance, the child is choos­ing which stranger to talk to. Giv­en that the over­whelm­ing major­ity of people will help, the child is likely to get help if he chooses a ran­dom stranger. But if a stranger comes up to a child and talks to him or her, it’s not a ran­dom choice. It’s more likely, although still unlikely, that the stranger is up to no good.

I sup­pose it’s a form of the selec­tion bias.

So do as @zambonini sug­gests, and head over to Omegle and talk to strangers!