How to Explain Bitcoin! Transcript


0:00 - Introduction and Community Invitation
2:24 - Analogies and Value of Decentralization
7:53 - Balancing Principles and Virtuous Goals
9:03 - Hypothetical Scenarios and Principles
13:13 - Addressing Obscure Moral Questions
16:44 - Importance of Prioritizing Moral Issues
20:21 - Focusing on Practical Philosophy
21:33 - Discrediting Philosophy with Irrelevant Questions
21:48 - Conclusion and Community Support Appeal

Long Summary

In this episode, I delve into the importance of Bitcoin's decentralized nature, highlighting its resilience against centralized control through analogies such as scuba diving and arranged marriages. I address the issue of anonymity surrounding Bitcoin's creator, emphasizing that decentralization is key regardless of the creator's identity. Drawing parallels with literature like "The Fountainhead," I caution against exposing complex concepts like Bitcoin to individuals who may not fully comprehend or appreciate its significance, likening it to playing classical music to those more inclined towards different genres.

Addressing a listener's query on prioritizing principles over virtuous goals in relationships, I reject the notion that it is immoral to date certain individuals based on predefined standards, questioning the relevance and morality of such judgments. I challenge the listener's fixation on the dating decisions of individuals at the extreme ends of attractiveness, emphasizing the need to focus on more significant moral dilemmas in society. Encouraging a shift in focus towards broader philosophical inquiries and societal betterment, I stress the importance of utilizing intellectual capacities for meaningful impact rather than trivial matters.

Analogizing myself to a doctor amidst a health crisis, I express frustration towards hypothetical questions that hold little practical value in addressing real-world challenges. I advocate for dedicating energy towards substantial philosophical endeavors that contribute positively to societal well-being, urging listeners to prioritize meaningful philosophical discussions over inconsequential musings. Emphasizing the need for practical engagement in moral issues that significantly impact society, I invite listeners to channel their efforts towards constructive philosophical pursuits with tangible benefits for the broader community.


[0:00] Introduction and Community Invitation

[0:00] Good morning, everybody. Hope you're doing well. Stefan Molyneux, Freedomain. Questions from Great community. Come on by. Join the conversation at Somebody writes, I have trouble explaining to people why the genuinely decentralized nature of Bitcoin, along with its totally anonymous conception, in the sense that we do not know who made it, are central to its superiority, and not only as a cryptocurrency, but as a means of exchange and as a savings technology. Can you go over why those two aspects are so unique and important? Well, the decentralized nature of Bitcoin is something that I'm not sure why it would need to be explained to people, but if I had to explain it, I would say that decentralization Decentralization is impervious to centralized control.

[0:55] Decentralization is impervious to centralized control. So, what I would say is use the analogy of two scuba divers. Now, when you're scuba diving, there's centralized control over your air, right? It has to come from your self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, your scuba tank. So if there are two guys 200 feet underwater, one guy wants to kill the other guy, he just cuts the air or wrecks the tank. Then he's out of water. He got centralized. There's only one place he could get the air from is a scuba. You disable the scuba, the guy's going to die. He can't get to the surface quick enough or he'll get the bend, so he's going to die down there in the water. So that's centralized air flow. On the other hand, if you have two guys in a field, that's decentralized air. The air is just flowing around. It's part of the atmosphere. And nobody has control over your air supply. So there's not just one central cable that you can cut to deprive someone of air when they're standing in a field, just roaming around. I mean, I guess you can choke their windpipe or whatever. But in terms of air getting to them, it's decentralized.

[2:17] So there's no centralized control over how you get your air in a field.

[2:24] Analogies and Value of Decentralization

[2:24] That's a rough analogy as the value of something being decentralized.

[2:32] Or you can think of an arranged marriage versus dating. In an arranged marriage, you are wedded off at the age of 12 or promised to someone at the age of 12, and you have no say in the matter. That's centralized control. Decentralized control is you date who you want until you find someone you love. A social credit score is centralized economic access. So, if you displease the authorities, they can turn off your ability to function economically in the society. That's centralized. If you displease people and there's no centralized way for you to participate or not participate in the economy, then that can't happen to you.

[3:23] If you are assigned a job and you have to work there for 40 years, that's centralized, or you go to jail. Decentralized is study what you want, go to whatever job interviews you want, work with whoever will hire you that you want to work for. Just how we live is generally, like liberty is decentralized, right? Right as to totally anonymous conception we do not know who made it i don't particularly care about that i don't particularly care about that so i'm not sure maybe there's an argument i haven't thought of which is obviously certainly more than possible but i'm not sure why it matters whether we know or don't know who created it because if decentralization is a value which it is, then I don't know why it matters who created it. Because if who created it made it decentralized as Satoshi did, he made it decentralized, therefore it doesn't really matter who created it because it's beyond his control now anyway. So I'm certainly happy to hear arguments, but right. And here's the thing too.

[4:29] I mean, go read The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead is an an incredible cautionary tale of overloading someone's abilities, right? So, you have a media, oh, sorry, this is a spoiler or two, but it doesn't hugely matter because the book is fantastic regardless of whether you know this or not, but you have a supremely talented architect and you have a mediocre architect, and the supremely talented architect keeps helping out the mediocre architect to the point where the mediocre architect ends up in a social and business and economic situation far above his abilities, which is usually a total disaster.

[5:20] So there's an old saying, that's too much car for you, right? Like if you're not a skilled driver, a very high performance car will be too much car for you. I mean, I mentioned the story many years ago. I drove a very souped up Porsche halfway across California as a favor to a friend to deliver it to a dealership, and it was too much car for me. I could not handle it very well because I'm not a high performance driver. I'm actually a pretty sedate driver. So I don't think you want to get Bitcoin into the hands of people who aren't wise and smart and get it. I mean, absolutely explain it for sure. But if they don't get it, I'm not sure they should have Bitcoin because it's going to get scammed. Scammed, they're going to lose it, they're going to just do something stupid, they're going to sell it at a low and complain about it to all of their friends that they got scammed and Bitcoin is tulip mania. I personally have no desire to get Bitcoin into the hands of people who can't handle it. I mean, to me, that's just not right.

[6:35] That's like playing a piece of exquisite classical music in front of people who prefer Scandinavian screeched death metal and the lower echelons of rap culture.

[6:51] I mean, to put it another way, if you have a wonderful, beautiful, talented, brilliant sister and some grungy guy with a mullet in a Slayer t-shirt comes up and asks you the best way to get her to go out on a date, what are you going to say? Are you going to be like, yeah, well, she likes this and say that. Are you going to get him to listen to a little earpiece and Cyrano de Bergerac style, teach him exactly how to woo her? No, because he doesn't deserve her. She needs a great guy, not some guy living in a basement who's perpetually fixing his motorcycle.

[7:30] So I personally, I mean, you may feel a certain, oh my gosh, I've got to get people into Bitcoin. I've got to get them some Bitcoin. No, Bitcoin is the prize for deep wisdom, curiosity, learnedness, education, and smarts. Don't just get everyone into it because they'll mess it up. All right.

[7:53] Balancing Principles and Virtuous Goals

[7:54] Stefan, a recent question you answered, you said that a person should stick to principles. My question is, to what extent should a person value principles over virtuous goals? For example, you would agree, as you have previously stated, that it would be immoral for a man to impregnate a prostitute as a prostitute would needless to say be a terrible mother. You also say that it would be immoral to date a heroin addict single mom for similar reasons. Yeah, I mean, immoral? Let's say you date a heroin addict single mom. Is that a violation of the non-aggression principle? Hard to see. Anyway, now to clarify, I don't want to strawman you, so I don't necessarily believe these scenarios are all immoral, or if they're just major red flags of dysfunction, and that if such dysfunction were to occur, you couldn't necessarily ascribe any innocence to such a man that puts himself in such a situation. See a prior example of the heroin drug addict mother, for example. Prior answer. This backdrop leads me to my main question. Now I'm arguably in the top 1% of looks, and I'm probably also in the top 1% of IQ, so the following question I'm going to ask you is completely hypothetical.

[8:59] That said, as you are a philosopher, I believe you see tremendous value in hypothetical questions.

[9:03] Hypothetical Scenarios and Principles

[9:03] My question is, how much do principles matter in a scenario like this? Oh my God, man. All right. If a man is below average looking, let's say, as well, he also has a below average income, below average salary. For the sake of argument, let's just say the man is an elephant man, if you are unaware what an elephant man is. I actually played the doctor in the play, The Elephant Man, the Anthony Hopkins character in the movie. I played him on stage. so I know the story very well.

[9:30] Anyway, back to my question, if a man is well below average, or for example, you can take the extreme example of an elephant man, such a man would understandably find it extremely hard to get a wife. My question is, should a man in such a position choose principles over the most important goal of man and arguably everyone's life, regardless of whether they admit it or not, which is to have children? Such a man would have very limited choices in regards to women, especially in the 21st century where even good-looking guys struggle to get women. Such a man may very likely be presented with a choice to have children, with a single mom or to take an example but in this case a very realistic alternative a prostitute, no man desires to date or especially marry and have kids with okay i'm going to give you like another half page here's this long question a prostitute but at the same time no woman wants to date men at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder especially if he is also physically unattractive short and or in an extreme example disfigured as a result of war or genetic defects my question is should such a man choose to follow principles and remain lonely and childless or reject principles by having children with a prostitute this is why i said this question is hypothetical because it is easy as a guy who is good looking like me or a successful guy like you steph oh i like how he says i'm not good looking to follow principles in choosing spouses but can we blame man in such circumstances for not following principles.

[10:46] I find the question wearying, I'll be frank. I find these kinds of questions completely wearying. Like, who do you care what somebody, what do you care if somebody dates? Like, who somebody dates? What does it matter? What do you care? Some dumb, ugly guy can go and have kids with a single mother. Okay, so what do you care? It's not force. It's not fraud.

[11:15] So, I'm trying to understand why this would be important to you. When you look around the world at the massive, endless violations of the non-aggression principle characterized in child abuse and politics and war and fiat currency and debt and so on, I mean, this is just massive, right? And if the most pressing moral question that you can act upon in your life is how do ugly men get laid, I don't know what your priorities are. I always try to figure out, like, a little bit, you know, I mean, if I am a really good philosopher, then I'm like that genie, right? Like you can, the genie, well, except if I don't grant wishes, I answer questions. So you get one rub at the genie. You get one quote question of the oracle, so to speak, right? And this is your question? People at the complete, you're concerned about the reproductive habits of people at the complete opposite end of the dating spectrum. Why? If.

[12:21] And I've never said that it's immoral. I don't think I've said that it's immoral to date a single mother. You know, maybe she's learned all of her lessons. She's beyond wonderful. The kids are very young. The ex is out of the picture, and she's smart and beautiful and has gone to therapy and learned her lessons. And, you know, maybe you're infertile and you can't have your own kids, but you really want kids to raise kids. So, I mean, there could be situations wherein it's fine, understandable. I mean, not common, obviously.

[12:57] So, I don't understand, since this isn't something that you will ever face, and it's not a violation of the non-aggression principle, and there's nothing you can do about it anyway, why on earth would this be your one question of the oracle or the genie?

[13:13] Addressing Obscure Moral Questions

[13:13] Let me sort of reiterate this. so you're the top one percent in looks and intelligence great fine so you have all the choices in the world on who to date good for you i mean great and it's nice to have those options although option paralysis is a real thing now you can't force people to date or to not date because that would be a violation of the non-aggression principle i mean we're just talking like unattached people and so on, right? Affairs are a different matter because they're breaking a vow. So you can't force people to date or to not date. So why, when you get your sort of one kick at the can and one question of the genie, why would you bring up people at the complete opposite end of the choice matrix, whose decisions you cannot change, whose dating habits you cannot affect, In fact.

[14:11] And who's, if you morally condemn them for whatever reason, they won't listen and won't care. That's what I find. It's the question behind the question, which is why is this question your one kick at the can? Why would you care?

[14:25] You know, everywhere I go around in society, I see great people, I see good people, I see okay people, and I see the detritus, the dregs of trash planet, right? And the idea that I'm going to spend a lot of my intellectual time and or energy trying to figure out the compromises that people with very few choices have to make while still be considered moral in some abstract sense, I just don't understand why this would be a focus of yours. Come on, man. Come on. You're smart. Right? I'll take it you would. Top 1%. You're smart. So, given that you're smart, why are you wasting time worrying about this stuff? It's just bizarre to me. I don't follow it. Why would you care? There's so much that you need to do from a moral standpoint to help out the world in terms of bringing truth, reason, virtue, UPB, peaceful parenting to the people in your life, the people in your environment, the people in your circle. There's so much that you need to do in the world to bring morality to the world, that mucking about with, well, you know, there's a guy who's got these massive cysts or tumors on his face. You know, I mean, what's the morality of him dating a low quality woman? Like, the hell?

[15:42] Why on earth would this be anything that you would spend any particular time, thought, or energy on? Now, it's true, I, of course, have done presentations on the truth about single motherhood and so on, but that was a very under-discussed topic.

[15:58] And I'm not gearing my presentations for the bottom 5% of intelligence, success, and attractiveness. What I want to do is to teach my listeners about the value of holding out for a high-quality woman, for, I mean, a variety of reasons that are too obvious to go into here. So if there's a guy who's, I don't know, got some bizarre physical deformity, I guess he's going to have to date who he can date. Why you would spend your short and precious intellectual energies on the question of how the dullest and ugliest people in the world date is completely incomprehensible to me.

[16:44] Importance of Prioritizing Moral Issues

[16:45] They'll figure it out, they'll do what they're doing, assuming it It doesn't violate the non-aggression principle. What they're doing is voluntary. You know, maybe some guy who's really ugly and dull will have to date a single mother. What do you care?

[17:02] Moral or immoral in this context or in this way. So in general, I guess my question would be, what is the reason for the question? It's such an obscure, irrelevant question. People I don't hang out with, whose culture I don't participate in, who are not part of my world, are going to have to make decisions I can't influence in any moral way. And that's my one rabbit, the genie. That's the question that's most burning for me. So I don't know. I mean, look, if you have a brother who has this issue, that's one thing. But then you need to tell me that. Because otherwise, the question looks bizarre. And when the question looks bizarre, I'm not particularly motivated to answer it, if that makes sense. I just want you to sort of understand what it's like on the receiving end of your philosophical inquiries.

[18:01] I mean, the last guy about Bitcoin, yeah, he wants to figure out how to get the knowledge of Bitcoin across to people and all of that. I get that, and that's cool. So that's pretty clear. But why do you care how dull and ugly people get their dates? Why would that be the one kick of the can you get for asking a question? Because it doesn't make any sense. Doesn't make any sense. And even if, let's say you have a brother who is dull and ugly, well, he's probably not going to listen to you anyway, right? Because as you say, his drive is to reproduce, right? Right. And having children is the rank creativity of the average, which is not any kind of put down. It's just the fact that most people can't write novels, but they can raise children. And that's noble and a great thing. So I don't I don't understand why you're asking the question, because it's just so irrelevant to the practical needs and goals of philosophy. I, you know, just so everyone knows, I view myself very much as a doctor in the middle of a massive health catastrophe.

[19:19] And when people come to me and say, how can I help you with this massive health catastrophe, some plague or something like that? Fantastic. I would absolutely take my time, talk to people about how to help out with the plague because many hands make light work.

[19:38] I view myself as like I'm in an ER, people are coming in, limbs shredded, sick, coughing up blood, keeling over, children malnourished. There's just this conveyor belt of health horrors coming through. And then somebody pulls me aside, and instead of saying, how can I best help with the health horrors? They say, okay, well, let's say that this, that, and the other in a town on the the other side of the world in one in a million chance in another dimension and i'd be like do you not see the broken bleeding bloody starved people around like why are you asking me these.

[20:21] Focusing on Practical Philosophy

[20:21] Theoreticals that you can't act on in worlds that you don't visit like why why would you ask those questions, rather than saying, how can I help you with the plague? How can I help spread philosophy, reason, virtue, UPB, and peaceful parenting in the world? So if there is something personal about this, I think you should be honest about that because otherwise the question doesn't make any sense, right? If someone asks me about some one in a zillion theoretical ailment or whatever, when I'm in the middle of trying to, in this analogy, right, when I'm in the middle of trying to help this major health disaster that seems to be escalating, and they don't say, my brother in the next room has this disorder, then the question is just annoying. I'm not saying you're annoying. I'm not even saying the question is innately annoying. I'm just saying that I'm I'm kind of annoyed by it. And if you understand the medical analogy, I think you can see why. Help me help the world. Don't muck about with how the elephant man gets dates.

[21:33] Discrediting Philosophy with Irrelevant Questions

[21:34] That discredits philosophy and makes you look really, really dissociated and out of touch. If there's something more personal, of course, you can email me, call in at Thanks everyone so much. I look forward to seeing you in the community.

[21:48] Conclusion and Community Support Appeal

[21:48] Help the show out. Please, please, please at slash donate. And also, you can join or slash freedomain. Thanks. Bye.

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