Some Bitcoin Core supporters are really, really low class. Giacomo is one of them. On twitter he basically said that anyone who doesn’t support Bitcoin Core is either malicious or stupid. Implying this about me too, of course.
I should have known better than to entertain him because I know there’s no chance he will change his mind. His chronic appeals to authority demonstrate a lack of independent critical thinking that would be necessary for such a conversion. But nevertheless I thought maybe I could at least have an honest dialogue with him and show that people who disagree with him can be honest and thoughtful.
My mistake. I invited him to have a discussion with me which he took as an open invitation to definitively explain to me why I’m stupid. The “discussion” consisted of him firing off a tweet storm with the intent of garnering a bunch of attaboys from his fellow ideologues.
I tried responding to one or two of his tweets to, you know, have a serious discussion, but he ignored them all in a shameful act of self-aggrandizement.
Anyway, normally I would let this go but the combination of his extremely poor quality arguments coupled with all his fanboys declaring me REKT compels me to write some replies for posterity.
> Ok, here I am. I'll write down some bullet-points. This isn't a rebuttal of your article (no time for that, at least not now): it's just my own list of arguments about what specifically I think makes you, and every other bcasher who isn't intentionally malicious, stupid.
Just want to highlight this here. If you literally think everyone who disagrees with you is intentionally malicious or stupid, that is almost certainly a sign that you suffer from extreme dogmatism, a form of irrationality. See Michael Huemer’s excellent Ted talk on irrationality. He might as well have been describing Giacomo. https://youtu.be/4JYL5VUe5NQ?t=11m30s
> 1) Bitcoin is one of the greatest financial opportunities in human history. If anyone interested in wealth & misses it/fucks up w/ it, qualifies as stupid. I get from your other tweets that you're not interested in wealth (I am), so at least this point doesn't really concern you.
This really speaks to what I see is really at the core of what’s going on. Giacomo is in it to get rich. Not to improve the world. And he gets angry when he encounters something that appears to stand in the way of him getting rich.
Yes, Bitcoin can be used as a speculative investment. Yes if you make a speculative investment and Bitcoin goes to the moon you may get rich. But the point of Bitcoin isn’t to get you personally rich. When libertarians spent decades arguing for sound money and slaving over their typewriters writing journal articles making the case for the gold standard, sound money, or sound banking, the purpose was not to “get rich”. They didn’t say, “If I can just convince enough people to adopt my monetary policy then I will make bank!”. No it was “If I can just convince enough people to adopt my monetary policy then I will be able to help improve the lives of millions of people”.
Aligning incentives such that if you manage to improve the lives of millions of people, THEN you get rich is great. But being in something just to make money regardless of whether or not it makes a positive impact is incredibly selfish and misguided.
> 2) Bitcoin is one of the greatest opportunities for the advancement of personal freedom in human history. I think whoever qualifies as a "libertarian" in the anglo-saxon "free market" tradition (I guess this is the case for you) & misses it/fucks up w/ it, qualifies as stupid.
I don’t per se disagree (except maybe with the “stupid” part), but the reason I’m so concerned (or was concerned) over the direction of Bitcoin is I see people like Giacomo derailing it. Sending bitcoin on a course where it will not advance human freedom. I’ll elaborate more below.
> 4) Bitcoin is a complex topic: I don't think who don't understand it fully qualifies as stupid just for that, but who, w/o understanding it, voices very strong/controversial opinions about it, taking extreme stances under the effect of his own cognitive dissonance, does qualify.
Bitcoin is complex and yes you should try to fully understand it before voicing a loud opinion on it (I’m skeptical Giacomo really does). But to try to insinuate that someone like myself doesn’t understand it is absurd. Not to sound conceited but does he know who he’s talking to? Does he really want to put his technical chops up against mine? Or take someone like Deadalinix, the lead dev for Bitcoin ABC. Any room he walks into he’s instantly one of the smartest and most technical people in the room. It drives them nuts that Deadalinix works on Bitcoin Cash because they don’t know how to reason about someone with his technical chops not sharing their opinion.
So again what he’s doing is demonstrating a psychological impairment in that he’s not able to consider the fact that anyone who doesn’t share his views could be technically proficient and know what they are talking about.
> 5.1) Since Bitcoin is complex (4), I don't think everybody should/could come to understand it deeply, subtile trade-offs included, but I think everybody who isn't stupid can easily use basic heuristics to distinguish/compare other people's expertise, skills, integrity, honesty.
Continuing with the condescension, he’s suggesting that we should all seek out authority figures and listen to what they have to say. Of course, most of us are have the reasoning skills needed to research topics and come to informed opinions on our own and don’t need authority figures telling us what to think.
Further, he assumes that all authority figures agree with him. They don’t! In fact, it’s probably a minority of the cryptocurrency technical community at large that does agree with him. From my experience it’s also a minority of academia.
So what he’s essentially suggesting is to only listen to the authority figures that agrees with him. My guess is this is how he came to hold the views he does in the first place.
> 5.2) Thus, even w/o discussing his ability to master this complex topic directly, whoever systematically, continuously & exclusively conflates experts w/ solid arguments with obvious/blatant scammers, fraudsters, con-men, manipulators & compromised/bad fully qualifies as stupid.
This is a bit of an incoherent statement but I assume it’s some kind of reference to Craig Wright. Regardless it’s another demonstration of his psychological impairment in that he assumes anyone who disagrees with him does so because they must have been listening to people who are scamming them. No chance that one could evaluate the facts independently and come to an informed opinion by himself right?
> 6.1) Slight change of topic (it will make sense later on): I think I understand Bitcoin enough to say it's very likely an unrepeatable experiment. Altcoins, even if they weren't the scammy, clumsy, useless, inferior Bitcoin clones they all are, are inherently stupid, because:
> 6.2) - 1st, their success would undermine the only thing that make the "digital gold scarcity" value proposition possible (focal point around the original issuance), - 2nd, they can't replicate Bitcoin's "immaculate conception", they're compromised since day 0, by definition.
I don’t even know if this is worth commenting on but it just seems wrong on its face. The idea that if Bitcoin gets overtaken by some other asset than cryptocurrency is forever ruined because confidence in it will be forever lost seems ridiculous. Not to mention the empirical data point that Bitcoin’s market share has tanked while the cryptocurrency market as a whole has risen… directly contradicting this prediction.
> 7.1) Another slight change of topic: it's obvious to me there is a fundamental problem w/ a global-state network designed in such a way that it will FOREVER require EVERY single node to get & process EVERY single past & present state change. I think only a stupid would disagree.
To answer whether I agree or disagree would require me to know how many state changes need to occur and how many computers are capable of processing. If the answer is the network needs to process 2,000 state changes and your computer can process 1,000,000 state changes then obviously you would be stupid to not DISAGREE.
This is similar to the situation with Bitcoin. Processing every single state change need not be problematic if the number of state changes are within a range where it is feasible to do so.
I would think everyone would universally agree with this fact but you can see what Giacomo is doing here. Set up a straw man argument that doesn’t fully encompass all the facts, then try to suggest that anyone who doesn’t agree with it is obviously wrong.
In the case of Bitcoin, the network doesn’t need to process an unlimited number of state changes, but only the number of state changes that users are requesting. What we want to know is a) how many state changes are users likely to request over a give time frame and b) are computers capable of processing this many state changes?
For a) we must estimate, but even very for very optimistic estimates of transaction volume (such as doubling every year) computers are capable of handling the load up to some relatively large volumes.
And this does not even speak to protocol optimizations that could be used to remove/lessen the requirement that all nodes process every state change.
> 7.2) Luckily, I don't think Bitcoin as a whole is doomed to be such a system (even if we could say it has been for a while). There're are several techniques, some already imagined by Satoshi & even by his predecessors, that could at least mitigate this (obvious) inherent problem:
7.3) - trusted 3rd parties for little/fast txs, where counterparty risk is minimised anyway, + on-chain settlement (Finney),
- trustless nSequence-based payment channels, + on-chain settlement (Satoshi),
- few big "masternode" enabling trustless SPV via fraud-proofs (Satoshi),
7.4) - trustless sharding: nodes get/verify only some relevant information, ignoring other parts of the global state (Todd, Maxwell, alt.),
- trustless pruning: nodes get/verify only recent information, discarding all the old information eventually (Todd, Maxwell, alt.).
Hey something we agree on! While I fundamentally disagree with the notion that nodes are not capable of processing large transaction volumes. I do agree that it would be a nice-to-have if they didn’t have to do that. And there are some experimental techniques, such as sharding (which btw the state of the art goes way beyond Todd and Maxwell but that seems to be all Giacomo knows) which can potentially work and allow blockchains to scale to unlimited sizes.
> 7.5) Unfortunately, not all these theoretical techniques turn out to work in practice:
- trusted 3rd parties turned out to be a systemic risk,
- nSequence channels idea was broken & we had to wait years to be fixed (SegWit+LN channels) & improved (LN trustless onion routing),
It’s a bit funny to me that he talks about the systemic risk of using trusted 3rd parties. Does he not realize the direction Bitcoin is headed? Lightning, which is a long, long way from being proven to be viable to payments, can’t plausibly work for payments if the fee to open a channel blows out to even the levels it was in December, let alone the levels it would reach if there was any serious adoption.
So what’s the alternative? Maybe a bunch of ultra-low security drive chains or, more likely, everyone just uses custodial wallets to avoid ever transacting on chain. That’s not a systemic risk?
> 7.6) - Satoshi's fraud-proofs turned out to be unfeasible, making SPV basically trust-based & the "few big masternodes" model easy to censor/attack,
- trustless sharding (aka Sidechains???), while being sold as a buzzword by Ethereum scammers, is still a difficult/unproved topic,
Here it looks like our technical wizard is not fully up to date with his stuff. Fraud proofs are indeed feasible if you make some changes to the block commitment structure. It’s not surprising that when your sole source of information is people who agree with you that you would miss ideas proposed by those who don’t.
From my discussion with a number of Bitcoin Cash devs most would like to see us make the changes necessary to make fraud proofs happen down the road.
But putting that aside, it’s really factually false to call today’s SPV “basically trust-based”. To me this is a propaganda line push by people like Peter Todd and Greg Maxwell (not surprising that they seem to be Giacomo’s sole source of information) designed to convince people that SPV wallets are more insecure than they really are so that they go “Oh no I better run a full node on my home PC. And I better make sure the blocksize remains constricted so I can do so otherwise my money is at risk!”
The fact is that 1) Nobody in the history of Bitcoin has ever been defrauded by using an SPV node. There has never been even a single report. 2) If you wait for the confirmations (as is always recommended), the only way you could be defrauded is if the attacker mustered up 51% of the hashing power. Which, btw, full nodes cannot handle such a situation either (albeit for slightly different reasons).
So how ridiculous is it to say “SPV wallets are insecure because they can’t handle a 51% attack!” when full nodes can’t either?
This is one of more absurd lines of arguments push by these guys over the years.
And on the claim that the SPV model would be easy to censor or attack…. This completely depends on the number of nodes available for SPV wallets to connect to. If you have a billion people using Bitcoin you’ll likely have hundreds of thousands of nodes (and yes even at larger blocksizes as running a node at almost any blocksize is a trivial expense for most businesses).
Then you have the “Ethereum scammers” comment. Really? So basically people who have been working for years now to create a coin with a $70B market cap, and the millions of users who support it, are all a bunch of scammers.
Again, go back and watch the Michael Huemer clip I linked to at the top and tell me this doesn’t apply go Giacomo.
> 8.1) I think I know Bitcoin enough to say that, as long as the aforementioned fundamental problem (7) still exists (thus excluding future advancement & current off-chain 2nd layers, finally in production), there's a difficult trade-off between easy-validation & easy-transaction.
Bitcoin/Bitcoin Cash may get to a point where it has to make the difficult trade-off he’s talking about here but we are a LONG way from that point. We can have easy-transactions AND easy-validation for probably the next decade and even then, the state of the tech may get to a point where we never have to make that trade-off at all. That remains to be seen but crippling the coin today, because there may be problems a decade from now, only ensures you’re going to face those problems today. And we see the results of that.
> 8.2) An hypothetical blockchain w/ 200kb blocks every 4hrs would be cheap/fast to validate: we'd run full nodes on our mobiles, orphan-rate would be low & mining decentralized. But only few use-cases (big/slow settlements) would fit on-chain, forcing everything else off-chain.
> 8.3) An hypothetical blockchain w/ 10Gb blocks every 2secs would be trivially cheap/fast to use directly for every use-case, including the most stupid ones, but it would be too expensive/slow to validate for anybody, centralizing Bitcoin completely. There's a spectrum in between.
I do agree there is a spectrum between these two extremes and we’ve been advocating for years to pick a reasonable choice on the spectrum. Instead people like Giacomo advocate an absurdist point on the spectrum where they don’t even let the network send an equivalent of a floppy disk worth of data every 10 minutes when any normal laptop can handle 2 to 3 orders of magnitude more than that.
And his downside from 8.2 .. “But only few use-cases (big/slow settlements) would fit on-chain, forcing everything else off-chain.” Basically happened at the end of last year when the network came under an even minimal load from people moving coins back and forth between their wallets and exchanges when there was a price frenzy. Any significant transactional demand would undoubtedly send fees skyrocketing past $100. Is that a reasonable point on the spectrum?
> 9.1) While I can accept different opinions about this (w/o necessarily considering stupid who would make the opposite point), I think there're solid arguments hinting at the fact that Bitcoin as-is could be too much shifted into the easy-to-transact extreme of that spectrum (8):
Let that sink in for a moment. Under peak load, fees blew out to an average of $100 and some people were waiting for confirmations for weeks. And he wants to suggest that Bitcoin is in the, in his words, “easy-to-transact extreme of that spectrum”.
I can really present that without comment because any rational person can recognize absurdity when they see it.
> 9.2) just empirically, a lot of people are transacting on-chain (even for very stupid use-cases where you DON'T need censorship resistance at all) while very few people run validating nodes, most relying on centralized 3rd parties that could easily compromised/corrupted/censored.
I happen to believe that all transactions should have the property of censorship resistance. In fact, if you want to compete with the dollar all transactions better have it or there’s no chance you’ll be in competition for very long. Saying we’ll just have censorship-resistance for transactions which can afford a fee of $100 is a great way to make it easy for the government to prevent Bitcoin from ever becoming widely used.
Further, the dream that everyone will run a fully validating node on their home computer was dead on arrival. It’s time to stop fantasizing about something that will never happen. The UX of running a full node is nowhere close to what the average consumer wants. I really had to laugh at Greg’s “In the future everyone will be running Bitcoin Core” comment. How divorced from reality can someone be?
But while average people won't be running full nodes, we can give them a damn good UX with a lightweight SPV wallet which offers like 98% of the same level of security as a full node.
> 11.1) Even if my assessment about the position of Bitcoin as is in that trade-off (9) was wrong (I really think it isn't), I guess it takes a special kind of stupid to ignore the fact that the different failure modes at the 2 extremes are actually NOT SYMMETRICAL at all:
> 11.2) while in the "crippled extreme" there will ALWAYS be use-cases that will pay/wait enough to be mined, by definition, there are not ways to survive government censorship in the "centralized extreme". Given Bitcoin's goals, it's very stupid not to be conservative about this!
Again he’s implying that people like myself are taking an extremist position. In his “extreme example” above he used 10GB blocks. Nobody is arguing for that today. We’re going up to a whopping 32mb blocks in a few weeks. A reasonable point on the spectrum. And we recognize that IF we’re going to have 10GB blocks it will require massive optimization to ensure things remain decentralized.
Nothing about 32mb, which is trivial to process on a home laptop is “extreme” and even coming close to risking the worst case scenario. Another straw man.
> 12.1) Regardless of the kind of update/change we are talking about, EVEN if it was super-safe from a validation-costs/mining-centralization point of view, every possible change of rules, good or bad, IS in itself an attack surface that could be used to corrupt/attack the project!
This is a risk you need to take if you want to stay relevant and progress. At this point I think just about every altcoin in existence has accepted the fact that hardforks are a necessary means for upgrading the protocol. That you simply cannot stay relevant without hardforking from time to time. And many, many hardforks have been done across the board and been done safely, including on coins with huge market caps. The Bitcoin devs are literally the only ones in the entire space who still have a hardfork phobia. It’s a good way to become irrelevant in a hurry.
> 13.1) Arguments against contentious "on-chain scale" increases (9, 10, 11, 12) are reinforced by the fact that, while for things as fungibility & decentralization it's race against time, for throughput increases THERE IS ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, there is NO RUSH by definition!
Says the guy promoting the coin whose market share has plummeted from 90% down to 35%. It’s a rather bizarre view. “Let’s take an ultra-conservative approach, even if means we hemorrhage users and use cases, and even if it means our market share tanks, because at some unknown point in the future our ulta-conservatism will pay off and we will get back all of our lost users and lost market share”.
OK if you say so.
> 13.4) If that argument is false [his argument that an altcoin takeover is impossible], there's no need to change Bitcoin in contentious/dangerous way: we can just wait for the "better altcoins" (lol). On the other hand, if that argument is true & we DO compromise Bitcoin's security, even just a little, we screwed up our only chance.
That’s what Bitcoin Cash is doing ;)
> 16.1) While populist conspiracy theories are stupid in and of themselves (15), the particular one used in the "Bitcoin scalability" circus is an astonishingly idiotic variation around the basic plot. I really thing only very stupid people could fall for something like this (5).
While there is something to be said for pointing out conflicts of interest where they exist (and they clearly exist in the case of Blockstream) they aren’t needed to make a technical point and as such bringing up alleged conspiracy is irrelevant.
Let’s debate the technicals not conspiracy theory.
> 16.2) In this case the explanation of the conspiracy is more cumbersome than usual. To begin w/, basically all the cypherpunks that pioneered the discovery of Bitcoin (Back, Szabo, Todd, Finney) inexplicably do agree on the existence of the "artificial" trade-off/scarcity. Weird!
A big LOL at putting Todd and Back in the same category with Szabo and Finney. The later two were involved in the digital money movement pre-bitcoin, the first two were just people, like everyone else in the space, who got involved after the fact and have made dubious contributions at best.
> 18.1) Simple heuristics aren't just useful to be skeptical about non-sensical conspiracy theories, but also (& especially) to beware clear, obvious, blatant fraudsters/liars. So, the "big block" field is now mostly lead/sponsored/pushed by: Craig S. Right, Jihan Wu, Roger Ver.
So after a series of tweets about how the Blockstream conspiracy aren’t true, he launches into his own conspiracy about how Bitcoin Cash is run by Craig Wright, Jihan Wu, and Roger Ver. With the expected vulgarities hurled at each of them.
> 18.6) Only someone extremely stupid would think this kind of brigade could really replace Bitcoin as the new private, censorship-resistant, global, sustainable, digital gold standard. To think that Bitcoin could be replaced by an altcoin, for whatever reason, is generally stupid.
I feel like I really only need to paste his tweets without comment because they are basically self-refuting.
Needless today Bitcoin Cash isn’t just Craig, Jihan, and Roger. None of them write the code. To my knowledge they don’t even fund the implementations. NChain even recently pulled funding from Bitcoin Unlimited because Peter Rizun refused to fall in line. So much for them controlling Bitcoin Cash.
And it goes to say that Jihan and Roger are good people who have well intentions and the pile of insults hurled at them is really low class.
> 18.7) Even if Bitcoin was really doomed by some convoluted conspiracy (16), any attempt to replace it would fail (6). But EVEN IF one really went down this road, literally ANY other altcoin (maybe "big-fast-blocks" LTC?) would have more chances than the embarrassing scam Bcash!
Again, I wish there was an argument there to refute but it’s just a baseless assertion with no attempt to provide supporting evidence. Was the above conspiracy theory supposed to be the supporting evidence? Who knows.
> 19) For all these reasons, I think you're either stupid or malicious. I hope you don't take this as a personal offence. I don't think stupidity is "genetic": I think it's mostly a choice, some kind of intellectual dishonesty/laziness. People can stop being stupid. You should.
Oh you can call me stupid as often as you want and I will never take offense. Derp.
On a final note, it's a certainty that none of the arguments presented by Giacomo we're going to convince anyone. At best they were red meat for people who already agree with him and helped boost his ego some. Likewise my responses to his disjointed series of tweets is unlikely to make a compelling case for Bitcoin Cash. For that I would refer you to a couple recent articles I wrote:
10 of 10 reviewers say it's worth paying for
0 of 10 reviewers say it's not worth paying for