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Author Topic: Emotional Arguments  (Read 5256 times)
Timo Y
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December 27, 2010, 02:49:44 PM
 #1

The Bitcoin community is doing a good job of selling Bitcoin using rational arguments.

Unfortunately, I don't believe rational arguments are going to convince non-technophiles and non-libertarians (the majority of the population).

My experience so far: When I try to explain the benefits of Bitcoin to friends and relatives, in the majority of cases I get a strong negative emotional response.  

This response is almost automatic, knee-jerk like.  There seems to be something at the very core of Bitcoin that bothers "normal" people, something irrational (when I ask them to be specific about their objections, they become irritated or change the subject).

When I try a rational response, it doesn't work. Even if the rational part of their brain agrees with me.  

I think we need some snappy emotional counter-arguments that we can throw at people pre-emptively.  

So here are some emotional objections I've heard:

* Scam!
* Ponzi scheme!
* Name calling. (You are an idiot for falling for something like this! ; Another one of your harebrained Utopian ideas! ; You are clueless because you are no banker!)
* Proof of work is a waste of energy!
* If there is no guarantee, it must be worthless!
* If I can't touch it with my hands, it must be worthless!
* Economic inequality is unfair! Everybody should be issued an equal amount of BTC!
* OMG Deflation! Bad!
* No regulation against speculators? I lost half of my pension because of those bastards!
* Nobody in charge? That's anarchy! Nothing ever succeeds without a strong leader!
* Money Laundering! Kiddie Porn! Gambling! Drugs! Terrorism!
* I hate tax evaders!
* Capitalism/money is evil!

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December 27, 2010, 03:00:54 PM
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Try explaining the true nature of the US federal reserve note and see if you get any more rational responses.  Most people just don't understand how fiat currencies actually work.

"It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

-Henry Ford

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 27, 2010, 03:02:32 PM
 #3

Don't try to convince people who don't want to be convinced. Waste of time and energy. Just show them, if they are interested they will ask further.

Focus on the positive aspects, easy and safe.. and micro-transactions. Don't compare with their bank account, but with their wallet. Small change that is easy for spending.
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December 27, 2010, 04:51:37 PM
 #4

Bitcoin is a weird idea. It's like trying to explain to them the concept of cryonic.

Both ideas are really good idea, but it's so strange that people have a higher level of skepticalism.

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December 27, 2010, 05:27:14 PM
 #5

The Bitcoin community is doing a good job of selling Bitcoin using rational arguments.

Unfortunately, I don't believe rational arguments are going to convince non-technophiles and non-libertarians (the majority of the population).

My experience so far: When I try to explain the benefits of Bitcoin to friends and relatives, in the majority of cases I get a strong negative emotional response. 

This response is almost automatic, knee-jerk like.  There seems to be something at the very core of Bitcoin that bothers "normal" people, something irrational (when I ask them to be specific about their objections, they become irritated or change the subject).

When I try a rational response, it doesn't work. Even if the rational part of their brain agrees with me. 

I think we need some snappy emotional counter-arguments that we can throw at people pre-emptively. 

So here are some emotional objections I've heard:

* Scam!
* Ponzi scheme!
* Name calling. (You are an idiot for falling for something like this! ; Another one of your harebrained Utopian ideas! ; You are clueless because you are no banker!)
* Proof of work is a waste of energy!
* If there is no guarantee, it must be worthless!
* If I can't touch it with my hands, it must be worthless!
* Economic inequality is unfair! Everybody should be issued an equal amount of BTC!
* OMG Deflation! Bad!
* No regulation against speculators? I lost half of my pension because of those bastards!
* Nobody in charge? That's anarchy! Nothing ever succeeds without a strong leader!
* Money Laundering! Kiddie Porn! Gambling! Drugs! Terrorism!
* I hate tax evaders!
* Capitalism/money is evil!

I like your goal to market bitcoins in the right way.

It should be a good balance of emotional and rational points, but I agree the emotional aspect is critically important at the first contact.

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December 27, 2010, 05:46:03 PM
 #6

Let me try :

* Scam! 
- to the benefit of who ?
* Ponzi scheme!
- bitcoin price can go up, or down.  I'm aware of that.
* Name calling. (You are an idiot for falling for something like this! ; Another one of your
harebrained Utopian ideas! ; You are clueless because you are no banker!)
- Am I worse than a banker according to you ?
* Proof of work is a waste of energy!
- No more than electric house heating.
* If there is no guarantee, it must be worthless!
- gold has no guarantee, it must be worthless ?
* If I can't touch it with my hands, it must be worthless!
- you"re right.  Let's get rid of the whole internet economy.
* Economic inequality is unfair! Everybody should be issued an equal amount of BTC!
- You say it is worthless and now you're angry because you don't have any !?
* OMG Deflation! Bad!
- Oh my god, prices are falling.  I'll be able to buy more stuffs.  Help me !
* No regulation against speculators? I lost half of my pension because of those bastards!
- You'd better blame your pension manager.  Have you authorized him to speculate with your pension ?
* Nobody in charge? That's anarchy! Nothing ever succeeds without a strong leader!
- Yeah...  Internet for instance is regulated by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.  Everybody knows that.
* Money Laundering! Kiddie Porn! Gambling! Drugs! Terrorism!
- you forgot global warming and AIDS.
* I hate tax evaders!
- What have they done to you ?
* Capitalism/money is evil!
- You're right.  Let's go live in the mountain, in a cave or in the forest.  Let's eat only what we hunt or fish.
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December 27, 2010, 07:16:38 PM
 #7

* Economic inequality is unfair! Everybody should be issued an equal amount of BTC!
- You say it is worthless and now you're angry because you don't have any !?

I wish that had been written 48 hours earlier.  It would have been the perfect response in a conversation I had.

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December 27, 2010, 07:56:48 PM
 #8

Can we brainstorm positive emotional arguments?  Maybe:

* Get back at the bankers and megacorporations that robbed us blind and drove the economy over a cliff!

* Bitcoin is The People's Money-- created by YOU, controlled by YOU.

* Use bitcoin and tell (PayPal/your credit card company/the foreign currency exchanger) you're tired of paying outrageous fees just to send YOUR money to somebody else.

More?

How often do you get the chance to work on a potentially world-changing project?
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December 27, 2010, 07:59:12 PM
 #9

You need to avoid getting into confrontational situations altogether. Don't challenge people's assertions but compliment their ideas and work them into the argument. Get them to comply voluntarily with your POV.

Funnily the same thing happens with Esperanto. Read this article,
http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/reactions.htm
Claude Piron details why it happens and how best to counteract that knee-jerk response of something alien or different.

You won't win over people by refuting all their points and destroying their argument. You win over people by tactical persuasion and gentle massaging through small steps to your POV.

In the NK-war, Chinese successfully on a wide scale were able to get American POWs to denounce their own governments and write long essays on the ills of capitalism. They did this by establishing small voluntary compliance tests for the POWs to reach. Because the soldiers weren't forced towards these small tests and passed them voluntarily, the person sees it as part of their self-image. You rework their self-image to fit the behaviour desired. One method used was holding 'competitions' for the best essay on capitalism- sometimes pro-capitalist essays won but more generally it was the anti-capitalism ones. Slowly soldiers would begin to bias towards anti-capitalism and so would their peers (social proofing). Each time the Chinese would then raise the bar, until they had soldiers shouting down the mic at other Americans on the front-line extorting the wonders of communism and the ills of capitalism (voluntarily).

This was not a few odd cases, but a widespread successful attempt.
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December 27, 2010, 08:03:22 PM
 #10

People don't see the credit card/PayPal processing fees since they don't pay them directly.  You need to tell them that everything would be 3-5% cheaper if paid for with Bitcoin.  Also, tell them that they are in control of their own money and don't need the sanction of a bank or the government to receive payments from whomever they want.

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." --Gandhi
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December 27, 2010, 08:52:26 PM
 #11

In the NK-war, Chinese successfully on a wide scale were able to get American POWs to denounce their own governments and write long essays on the ills of capitalism. They did this by establishing small voluntary compliance tests for the POWs to reach.

It couldn't possibly be that these relatively impoverished and mostly uneducated young american men, having left a situation engineered by the USA in which they were in danger of killing and being killed and now in a situation run by the Chinese in which their lives were relatively safe, with the time and encouragement to reflect rationally on their circumstances became somewhat more skeptical about the benefits of capitalism and warfare.

Liberal attitudes tend to be correlated with more education and I don't think that's just due to indoctrination by "liberal educators".

Back on topic: Emotional argument is a bit of an oxymoron.

Gavinandresen's slogans are good. About the bankers - I think it's always a case of "I want less corruption or else a larger share of it"

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December 27, 2010, 11:50:24 PM
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In the NK-war, Chinese successfully on a wide scale were able to get American POWs to denounce their own governments and write long essays on the ills of capitalism. They did this by establishing small voluntary compliance tests for the POWs to reach.
It couldn't possibly be that these relatively impoverished and mostly uneducated young american men, having left a situation engineered by the USA in which they were in danger of killing and being killed and now in a situation run by the Chinese in which their lives were relatively safe, now with the time and encouragement to reflect rationally on their circumstances became somewhat more skeptical about the benefits of capitalism and warfare.

Liberal attitudes tend to be correlated with more education and I don't think that's just due to indoctrination by "liberal educators".

- Statement.
- Statement.
- Statement.

You need to backup your claims. Much of what I said is common psychology:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot-in-the-door_technique
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compliance_(Psychology)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Low-ball
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_proof

The Chinese situation is a commonly raised example of these techniques in action.
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December 28, 2010, 06:43:41 AM
 #13

The Bitcoin community is doing a good job of selling Bitcoin using rational arguments.

Unfortunately, I don't believe rational arguments are going to convince non-technophiles and non-libertarians (the majority of the population).

My experience so far: When I try to explain the benefits of Bitcoin to friends and relatives, in the majority of cases I get a strong negative emotional response.  

I would like to add a slightly different take on this problem.

I was one of the early adopters of Linux back in 1995 - and the parallels of the early open-source community and the current libertarian / open-currency movements are very similar.

Back in the mid-90's, you were almost literally seen as crazy for suggesting that a business use an OS that you downloaded for free that some kids built in their spare time. For those of you that came to the IT world in recent years, its hard to explain how kooky they thought we were. Moreover, its stunning to appreciate how revolutionary and how wildly successful we were.

Back in the day, I was one of the founding members of the local LUG (linux users groups) in my area. We always had a deep debate in the community of those who wanted to evangelize vs those who saw that as a waste of time.

Those that wanted to evangelize constantly wanted to do things like organize "Linux Install Fest" where we would go teach convince people at the local library to use linux, etc.

I always argued that it was a waste a resources. While I was never against people choosing to go evangelize linux (afterall we are all free to do what we want), I argued that our efforts would be better used in just making linux a better OS. So, grandpa didn't need to know anything about linux, or even know that it was what was powering his email system.....

In someways I see a parallel argument here. The best thing to convince people about bitcoin is simply to see something that *works*. So in lieu of spending countless hours trying to convince someone that Ben Bernanke doesn't have super powers, just go spend a few BTC somewhere. The furthering along of a viable marketplace is a more immediate and ultimately more helpful thing than "changing someones mind".

Let's admit it, many of us are idealist that after understanding the fraud that is modern banking, feel philosophical compelled to try to find a solution. Sad to say, but 99% of the population doesn't act that way....they only "do what the herd is doing"....and trying to fight that in my experience is pointless. Better to just design a system where suddenly he finds it easier to use to buy his mp3 files with and forgo the philosophical arguments.
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December 28, 2010, 07:13:51 AM
 #14

My experience so far: When I try to explain the benefits of Bitcoin to friends and relatives, in the majority of cases I get a strong negative emotional response.  

This response is almost automatic, knee-jerk like.  There seems to be something at the very core of Bitcoin that bothers "normal" people, something irrational (when I ask them to be specific about their objections, they become irritated or change the subject).

When I try a rational response, it doesn't work. Even if the rational part of their brain agrees with me.  

Do the people you are talking to generally disagree with you on big things? State power in particular?

I don't know if what you need is an argument about bitcoin here. If they want the world to stay the same and you want to improve it then you might need to talk to them about the fundamental issues first. You also might find that you get no where with that and that these people will not be on your side.

Sorry, lots of speculation in there, it may not apply.

Play Bitcoin Poker at sealswithclubs.eu. We're active and open to everyone.
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December 28, 2010, 08:21:08 AM
 #15

The Bitcoin community is doing a good job of selling Bitcoin using rational arguments.

Unfortunately, I don't believe rational arguments are going to convince non-technophiles and non-libertarians (the majority of the population).

My experience so far: When I try to explain the benefits of Bitcoin to friends and relatives, in the majority of cases I get a strong negative emotional response. 

I would like to add a slightly different take on this problem.

I was one of the early adopters of Linux back in 1995 - and the parallels of the early open-source community and the current libertarian / open-currency movements are very similar.

Back in the mid-90's, you were almost literally seen as crazy for suggesting that a business use an OS that you downloaded for free that some kids built in their spare time. For those of you that came to the IT world in recent years, its hard to explain how kooky they thought we were. Moreover, its stunning to appreciate how revolutionary and how wildly successful we were.


Yeah, I remember those days fondly.  I installed linux onto a 486-66 for my great-aunt Jane (she was 80 at the time), and she literally couldn't tell the difference until she tried to take it to a computer shop to upgrade, and the techs literally responded with a "WTF?"

My great-aunt was never a good example of an "Aunt Tellie" however, since she retired in the 80's after a 30 year career as a programmer for the feds (she used punchcards intended for a computer the size of a warehouse that she never actually saw in person) and before that she was one of the first female privately licensed flight instructors in the country during the 30's.

Quote

Let's admit it, many of us are idealist that after understanding the fraud that is modern banking, feel philosophical compelled to try to find a solution. Sad to say, but 99% of the population doesn't act that way....they only "do what the herd is doing"....and trying to fight that in my experience is pointless. Better to just design a system where suddenly he finds it easier to use to buy his mp3 files with and forgo the philosophical arguments.

Hmmm, an MP3 downloading site.  Has anyone done this one yet?

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 28, 2010, 08:21:48 AM
 #16

I think it is a mistake to compare Bitcoin to Federal Reserve Notes. (The old argument that states: "Dollars only have value because we all ACT like they have value, so you can do the same with Bitcoin!")

This is actually a flawed position, since dollars have failed as a store of value and are viewed by most people as a fraud from the start.

But more than that, let's keep in mind that the only reason dollars are being used in the first place is due to the use of force. As soon as that force stops warping the market, the dollar instantly disappears. (You'd have to eliminate legal tender laws.)

Therefore, comparing Bitcoins to dollars is tantamount to claiming that Bitcoins will also never work without force and/or fraud.

I'll explain in more detail...

----

Imagine that everyone in the world used gold, and that you were the one person on earth who had the power to control that gold.

For example, maybe you could magically disappear it from people’s pockets and move it into your own, and then spend it yourself, leaving them without the gold that they previously had.

You could snap your fingers and create more of it; perhaps double the supply. (That would be good for you—but bad for everyone who stored their savings in gold!)

Or maybe you would have the sole monopoly over the supply, and everyone who wanted some would have to get it from you, first. You could even loan it out at interest, even though, in that situation, there would be more gold owed to you than was even circulating on the earth!

...That is the power of the Federal Reserve.

On the news recently I saw a headline that said, “420 Banks Demand One-World Currency.”
I realized that when they say the word “Currency”, what they actually mean is, "hundreds of millions of people's savings manipulated by a few powerful men."

Think about it. The gold example, above? That’s what a fiat currency is: a moral wrong. It’s a terrible power—not even possible under an actual gold-based system—that gives a few bankers the power to bankrupt entire nations, under the guise of “policy.”

Who could ever advocate centralizing that kind of power, once they realize what it really means? Imagine if there was a news article that said, "420 Business Leaders Demand One-World Dictatorship"—it would just look ridiculous. But "420 banks demand one-world currency" doesn’t sound so harsh, does it? The average, public school-educated Joe might think the bankers know what they're doing better than he does. That’s why the media cultivates the image of "the financial wizards" over at the Fed, so that people see them as experts, managing a system that most people find "boring" and can make no sense of. Monetary policy is viewed through the lens of the media as a realm of experts instead of its proper station: the realm of lies.

Normally, a person will not value a piece of paper in the same way that people value gold. If you offered me an average piece of paper or a piece of gold, I would choose the gold every time.

So, what if you wanted a large group of people to suddenly choose to use your paper instead of using gold? Given that such a thing would normally never happen on its own from natural market forces, what are some of the things you would have to do for that to happen? (Keeping in mind the vast power at your disposal, if you are successful...)

— You could start out by holding their gold for them, and using the paper as claim tickets. That way, the claim tickets will come to be valued psychologically by the people who use them on a day-to-day basis. This is how the banks started out.

— You could pass a law requiring all taxes to be paid in your paper claim tickets.

— You could pervert justice by using the Force of the State. For example, by forcing people to accept paper as real money when they sue over the issue in court. By ruling that all payments in dollars are legal and binding, and that no other remedy is available in the court of law, people would be forced to resort to extra-legal remedies—or to give up their claim to their gold.

— You could act incrementally, over decades. You could create situations where events you wish to transpire would be forced to a head at some future time. For example, promise to redeem all the paper tickets in gold, but then start printing paper tickets. (Forcing a future devaluation that the people might not otherwise have allowed to happen.) This was the actual cause of Nixon closing the gold window in 1971, which was in itself merely the consequence of something that happened 4 decades prior. The same could be true of the devaluation of gold from $20 to $35 that occurred during the reign of FDR.

— You could act suddenly in times of great national emergency, and simply confiscate all of the gold. Many people are shocked to hear that this happened in the United States, but it did. Everyone used to have it, didn’t they? Now it’s locked in a giant vault and guarded by guns, isn’t it? How on earth did that happen? It was forcibly confiscated during a time of great national emergency. (As the people now holding it hypocritically and continually try to convince us of its inherent worthlessness.)

— You could make people feel stupid if they like gold, and use punitive tax consequences against those who invest in it, and create a national attitude against it.

— The lie we tell ourselves is that the very existence of such an evil power (monetary policy) can be “managed.” That giving such a terrible power to any entity is acceptable or moral, just because we think the “experts” with the control will mostly manipulate it in our favor (and who even believes that anymore?)

— It can be seductive, though, if you get a bunch of inflation and boom time for the first decade or two, before the cycle swings the other way into Depression. The bull markets of yesteryear were not real wealth, but merely misallocation and distortion, to the benefit of corrupt elites, to be paid for later in poverty and tears by the masses of innocent people who worked their whole lives for their savings, only to wake up “penniless on the continent their fathers conquered.” (Jefferson.) That doesn’t mean that nothing good happened in our economy during times of boom (or that everything during the coming Depression will be bad.) But it does mean that the economy was warped and perverted, by powerful men, to the benefit of some and to the detriment of those who had actually worked for it.

BTW I'm a big fan of Bitcoin, and I think it has an important place in everything that is now happening. My only point here is that I think it's a strategic mistake to promote Bitcoin by comparing it to Federal Reserve Notes.

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December 28, 2010, 08:25:26 AM
 #17

Fellowtraveler, your posts are too long.  And for the most part, you're also preaching to the choir here.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 28, 2010, 08:43:22 AM
 #18

Don't try to convince people who don't want to be convinced. Waste of time and energy. Just show them, if they are interested they will ask further.

Focus on the positive aspects, easy and safe.. and micro-transactions. Don't compare with their bank account, but with their wallet. Small change that is easy for spending.

I agree with BioMike. You wont be able to convince some people even if you had the most flawless and simplest logical reasoning. As you said is an emotional response.

I have been trying to promote bitcoin everywhere, all my facebook contacts know about it, etc... but I know that only a frew will find it intersting. Some people only take the effort to understand something new if its something big enough, if a lot of people is using it. Until then, no matter what you say, this people will reject it. Bitcoin target now is early adopters, people willing to try something new. Dont despair, its normal and it happens with everything new.

This is why mainstream media works. If something is broadcasted in mainstream media a lot of people is willing to accept it because they believe is the norm, because mainstream media is followed by a lot of people. They dont really care about its validity (to a point). I personally believe is a mix of two psicological reasons:

1) People is lazy and dont want to think, dont trust their own judgement, or both, so they rely in the masses to make decissions for them. If a lot of people is trusting it, it must be ok, right? And if the masses go wrong they wont really be embarrassed because everybody was fooled.

2) We all like to feel like we are part of a group. We all are a insecure in some way (some more, some less) and some people know how to use this insecurity by making us feel good by making us feel part of a group, of something greater. This is why all the TV's sell their brands, or why the radio commentators speak like a brother even when they are rich bastards talking to poor people. They have to make you feel part of a group, so once they have the emotional attachment, you will believe what they say and it will be hard for you to refuse it because they give you false emotional confort.

This came longer than expected. Basically, keep talking about bitcoin but dont despair. Its normal that only early adopters join. I thin bitcoin is doing great as a community. Now we only need more and more business accepting bitcoins.
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December 28, 2010, 12:13:58 PM
 #19

Gotta save your effort for when it's really needed. As long as Bitcoin keeps growing, as it is now, there's no need for evangelizing. Just let time take care of Bitcoin's success automatically.

If the difficulty level drops twice in a row, that would be a signal that the tide has turned and that active promotion has become desirable.
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December 28, 2010, 03:35:00 PM
 #20

If the difficulty level drops twice in a row, that would be a signal that the tide has turned and that active promotion has become desirable.

Difficulty doesn't necessary correlate to the popularity of bitcoin.

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