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Author Topic: Catherine Flick spreads FUD on bitcoin and dual use  (Read 5079 times)
matonis
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February 06, 2012, 06:56:45 PM
 #1

Regarding the video post from genjix on Catherine Flick http://bitcoinmedia.com/catherine-flick-bitcoin-and-the-dual-use-dilemma , Irdial of London asked me to post his unedited reply to the video so I post it below:

Quote
This is an appalling presentation on many levels. It betrays what I can only describe as a very restricted world view, taking into consideration a narrow and blinkered perspective. It’s useful as a sounding board for people with a better understanding of the topic, and so I welcome it as a springboard.

Ethics is not “about helping good people make good decisions when the best decision isn’t always clear.” Here is a good definition of what it actually is: “Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics

Ethics is therefore, not about ‘helping good people’.

What is good and bad in subjects like money is interpreted differently from person to person and country to country. People like Catherine Flicks display demonstrably unethical and immoral thinking in the case of Bitcoin and money and exchange, since she advocates the use of force to control human beings who are interacting with each other voluntarily.

The observation that it is unethical to use force to control people’s private financial transactions is not an opinion. People who advocate the control of others by force and by default can be demonstrated to be immoral and unethical from first principles and logic.

These people are the Statists, who rely on hand waving, generalizations, rules of thumb, received wisdom, poor logic, fear-mongering and whatever irrational motivation is to hand to make their case for the immoral and violent control of other people.

The approach Ms Flick has taken to examine Bitcoin is completely wrong. There is no such thing as ‘the Dual Use Dilemma’ in relation to Bitcoin. This is language carried over from the debate about nuclear technology, where nuclear reactors, which can be used to produce goods for medical examinations and killing cancerous tumors have a ‘dual use’ of also being able to supply fissile material for explosives. Using this term in the context of Bitcoin is an attempt to impart a feeling of imminent danger to Bitcoin, in the same way that FUKUS is trying to do with Iran and its peaceful and perfectly legal nuclear programme; ‘Its not a threat now, but it may be in the near future’.

Bitcoin, like any technology, is neutral. It is a discreet piece of software that can be fully examined without a questionnaire of its users. It is literally like a hammer or any other inert object. If she was undertaking a simple survey of bitcoin users, then this approach would be the correct method, but she is attempting to discuss ‘the Dual Use Dilemma’ of Bitcoin, and this is her error. What people use it for does not in any way change what Bitcoin is. Bitcoin is neither ethical nor unethical.

Think about it this way. If Flics was examining hammers, and surveyed a set of people on them, she might get carpenters and burglars in her survey sample. Burglars use hammers to steal. Carpenters use hammers to build. She could create pie charts and type out their responses and give a talk on her academic results, without actually touching upon hammers at all. This is exactly what she has done with Bitcoin.

She would say that burglars using hammers to steal is, “rather worrying” and then say that carpenters do good work with hammers. None of this has anything to do with hammers as a tool, and yet she would offer that the regulation of hammers is a possibility that is reasonable, rational and perhaps desirable. No one with any sense would advocate the regulation of simple tools, and yet, because Bitcoin is a simple tool that can transmit ‘money’ it is immediately assumed that the State must have something to do with it. It simply does not follow.

Since people insist on conflating Bitcoin with money, ‘The Ethics of Money Production’ by Jörg Guido Hülsmann:

http://mises.org/books/moneyproduction.pdf

is worth buying and reading. Money is a good like any other. As is true with hammers and saws, there is no reason whatever to expect that money should not be manufactured by private individuals and it is entirely correct and beneficial for the public that it should not be regulated by the State, or anything other than market forces.

The problem with discussing Bitcoin as a form of money is that it is not money at all… but this is a digression. Bitcoin, whatever it is, is neutral, just like guns and hammers and all tools are neutral. You as a human being can take actions with it that are either ethical or unethical.

No one has the right to tell you what you may or may not do with your Bitcoins or your goods. If you are trading voluntarily, inside mutually agreed terms and not harming or defrauding other people, then no one has any sort of moral claim against you or your property.

If you do not accept this, then you, by extension, accept that the State (for example) has a claim on the things you own and do, and they have a legitimate reason to control you and your possessions and transactions, wether you act through voluntary exchange or not.

This is the fundamental difference between people who advocate that the State should regulate everything and the people who have a complete understanding of the true nature of human beings and right and wrong.

We, the ethical people, do not want to enforce our will and personal beliefs upon others. The Statists on the other hand, are hell bent on controlling everyone, in every area of their lives in every thing that has been invented and which has yet to be invented.

It is clear who the ethical people are in this equation, and more than that, as a purely practical matter, the State ruins everything it touches. Just look at the built in 2% inflation rate of Sterling as an example. It is designed to steal two percent of everyone’s stored wealth year on year. The absolute last thing that any new invention needs is the corrupting and destroying hand of the state upon its neck.

Academics like Catherine Flicks are used to justify the intervention of the State in everyone’s affairs by spreading FUD through their poorly designed studies and briefings. In the age of the internet however, these presentations can be refuted wherever they appear, both by inline commenting and hyperlinking.

Bitcoin and the systems that are sure to evolve from it and run in parallel with it are now an inevitable reality that is going to permanently disempower the Statists and dismantle the violent ‘society’. One day, Bitcoin will seem as natural and beneficial as sunshine, and the good of it, untouched by the State, will be apparent to all.

Founding Director, Bitcoin Foundation
I also cover the bitcoin economy for Forbes, American Banker, PaymentsSource, and CoinDesk.
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February 06, 2012, 07:40:33 PM
 #2

Irdial is a good read.  he understands Bitcoin and is right about Flick's presentation.
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February 06, 2012, 07:48:44 PM
 #3

I left this on the bitcoinmedia site:

Surveys like the one Catherine created can influence the psychology of people’s minds. What if I substituted “Bitcoin” with another phrase?

1.) Do you think it is good or bad for Catherine Flick to donate to hate or terrorist groups?
2.) Do you think it is good or bad for Catherine Flick to donate to legal political or other organizations?
3.) Things that Catherine Flick can do for good?
4.) Things that Catherine Flick can do for bad?

Asking questions like this can unfortunately associate Bitcoin with “bad” subjects, just like how Catherine Flick can be associated with these negative subjects.

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February 06, 2012, 07:52:08 PM
 #4

Catherine is a fan of bitcoin, and she was innocently asking a question. What I took for her talk was about what our individual decisions should be and how they influence bitcoin's development. We don't exist in a bubble, and our individual ethical decisions help push bitcoin as a cause for good.

She wasn't arguing in favour of an authority. Not at all.

BTW is Irdial lonelyminer? He should email me if he wants to write an article. Or anyone for that matter.

My reply there:

-----------------------

You make a good point, and I can totally understand what you’re saying. But ethics is more than ‘being good’. Ethics is about helping good people make good decisions when the best decision isn’t always clear.

There are hundreds of small ethical decisions everyday that build up to outcomes. Catherine wasn’t talking about bitcoin’s anthropomorphic morality, but about the people driving bitcoin forwards. The community.

There are many small decisions now about bitcoin’s future that can have massive future ramifications if bitcoin becomes big. Computing, the internet and web itself are an empowering tool simply because of those early engineers who had the prescience to design it that way, understanding the future impact such tools would have.

Their ethical decisions are a gift to us today. And a valuable and humbling example to follow.
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February 06, 2012, 07:53:57 PM
 #5

Catherine Flick seems like a nice lady.  I think people are just fine tuning bitcoin and why it should exist and debating it with Catherine's arguments.  In addition, libertarians are also very passionate about individual freedoms.

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lonelyminer (Peter Šurda)
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February 06, 2012, 10:21:58 PM
 #6

BTW is Irdial lonelyminer?
No. Also, I try to avoid discussing ethics.
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February 06, 2012, 10:46:41 PM
 #7

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The observation that it is unethical to use force to control people’s private financial transactions is not an opinion. People who advocate the control of others by force and by default can be demonstrated to be immoral and unethical from first principles and logic.

Stopped reading right there. Ethics is subjective by nature, first principles (axioms) are always unprovable and often arbitrary, even more so in ethics. Furthermore, humans and systems created by humans are not mathematical constructs and binary logic need not apply.

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts. Some opinion may hold true given a certain set of axioms but that doesn't make it an absolute truth outside that system, no matter how much you wish it to be true.
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February 06, 2012, 11:00:20 PM
 #8

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The observation that it is unethical to use force to control people’s private financial transactions is not an opinion. People who advocate the control of others by force and by default can be demonstrated to be immoral and unethical from first principles and logic.

Stopped reading right there. Ethics is subjective by nature, first principles (axioms) are always unprovable and often arbitrary, even more so in ethics. Furthermore, humans and systems created by humans are not mathematical constructs and binary logic need not apply.

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts. Some opinion may hold true given a certain set of axioms but that doesn't make it an absolute truth outside that system, no matter how much you wish it to be true.

We might find that we can agree on some axioms then it would be straightforward logic from there.

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February 06, 2012, 11:05:06 PM
 #9

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The observation that it is unethical to use force to control people’s private financial transactions is not an opinion. People who advocate the control of others by force and by default can be demonstrated to be immoral and unethical from first principles and logic.

Stopped reading right there. Ethics is subjective by nature, first principles (axioms) are always unprovable and often arbitrary, even more so in ethics. Furthermore, humans and systems created by humans are not mathematical constructs and binary logic need not apply.

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts. Some opinion may hold true given a certain set of axioms but that doesn't make it an absolute truth outside that system, no matter how much you wish it to be true.

We might find that we can agree on some axioms then it would be straightforward logic from there.

Right on!

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February 06, 2012, 11:10:16 PM
 #10

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This is an appalling presentation on many levels. It betrays what I can only describe as a very restricted world view, taking into consideration a narrow and blinkered perspective. It’s useful as a sounding board for people with a better understanding of the topic, and so I welcome it as a springboard.

This shows a serious problem with the Bitcoin community.  Someone posts something (even someone from the Bitcoin community in this case) that is not 100% positive or an ad for bitcoin and they get jumped all over.  The presentation was not FUD, or if it is, we have reinterpreted FUD to be anything we do not like.  

I watched the presentation (mostly because of this post, not the original post on bitcoinmedia.com) and have found it to be reasonable and mostly interpreting results of a poll taken here on this board.  It is certainly not 'appalling' as the quoted person has said.  She has opinions but is mostly responding an interpreting a bunch of other peoples views.  


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February 06, 2012, 11:24:40 PM
 #11

Quote
This is an appalling presentation on many levels. It betrays what I can only describe as a very restricted world view, taking into consideration a narrow and blinkered perspective. It’s useful as a sounding board for people with a better understanding of the topic, and so I welcome it as a springboard.

This shows a serious problem with the Bitcoin community.  Someone posts something (even someone from the Bitcoin community in this case) that is not 100% positive or an ad for bitcoin and they get jumped all over.  The presentation was not FUD, or if it is, we have reinterpreted FUD to be anything we do not like.  

I watched the presentation (mostly because of this post, not the original post on bitcoinmedia.com) and have found it to be reasonable and mostly interpreting results of a poll taken here on this board.  It is certainly not 'appalling' as the quoted person has said.  She has opinions but is mostly responding an interpreting a bunch of other peoples views.  

To be honest I did not think her presentation was FUD until I read Irdial's response.  In particular this paragraph stood out for me:

Quote
Think about it this way. If Flics was examining hammers, and surveyed a set of people on them, she might get carpenters and burglars in her survey sample. Burglars use hammers to steal. Carpenters use hammers to build. She could create pie charts and type out their responses and give a talk on her academic results, without actually touching upon hammers at all. This is exactly what she has done with Bitcoin.

She would say that burglars using hammers to steal is, “rather worrying” and then say that carpenters do good work with hammers. None of this has anything to do with hammers as a tool, and yet she would offer that the regulation of hammers is a possibility that is reasonable, rational and perhaps desirable. No one with any sense would advocate the regulation of simple tools, and yet, because Bitcoin is a simple tool that can transmit ‘money’ it is immediately assumed that the State must have something to do with it. It simply does not follow.

If more people in legislation thinks like Flicks, then it is likely that bitcoins will be more and more regulated.  Libertarians seem to be able to spot these types of statist ideas like an eagle's eye.

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February 07, 2012, 12:05:17 AM
 #12

You make a good point, and I can totally understand what you’re saying. But ethics is more than ‘being good’. Ethics is about helping good people make good decisions when the best decision isn’t always clear.

define "good".

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February 07, 2012, 02:33:37 AM
 #13

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts.

Is that an opinion?

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February 07, 2012, 04:23:32 AM
 #14

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The observation that it is unethical to use force to control people’s private financial transactions is not an opinion. People who advocate the control of others by force and by default can be demonstrated to be immoral and unethical from first principles and logic.

Stopped reading right there. Ethics is subjective by nature, first principles (axioms) are always unprovable and often arbitrary, even more so in ethics. Furthermore, humans and systems created by humans are not mathematical constructs and binary logic need not apply.

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts. Some opinion may hold true given a certain set of axioms but that doesn't make it an absolute truth outside that system, no matter how much you wish it to be true.

I agree completely, I really want someone to prove to me as a matter of fact that ethics exists and that there is such a thing as objective morality but I haven't found one single person that can do that.

Btw bitplane, could I perhaps get you interested in this thread I wrote on another forum? It goes into how to bring about a voluntary society upon realizing that ethics are subjective and "rights" an illusion: http://board.freedomainradio.com/forums/t/34237.aspx

You seem like a likeminded person so I'd really appreciate your opinion.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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February 07, 2012, 04:24:54 AM
 #15

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts.

Is that an opinion?

He is merely stating that there is no proof to support a conclusion to the contrary therefor not an opinion. I'm sure if you can prove as a matter of fact that ethics aren't just based on opinion he will admit he was wrong.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
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February 07, 2012, 04:37:13 AM
 #16

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts.

Is that an opinion?

He is merely stating that there is no proof to support a conclusion to the contrary therefor not an opinion. I'm sure if you can prove as a matter of fact that ethics aren't just based on opinion he will admit he was wrong.

Ok, I'm sure you (hazek) are familiar with this argumentation:

Universally Preferable Behavior in a Nutshell (by Stefan Molyneux)

Below, please find a summation of the core argument for morality.

Reality is objective and consistent.
“Logic” is the set of objective and consistent rules derived from the consistency of reality.
Those theories that conform to logic are called “valid.”
Those theories that are confirmed by empirical testing are called “accurate.”
Those theories that are both valid and accurate are called “true.”
“Preferences” are required for life, thought, language and debating.
Debating requires that both parties hold “truth” to be both objective and universally preferable.
Thus the very act of debating contains an acceptance of universally preferable behaviour (UPB).
Theories regarding UPB must pass the tests of logical consistency and empirical verification.
The subset of UPB that examines enforceable behaviour is called “morality.”
As a subset of UPB, no moral theory can be considered true if it is illogical or unsupported by empirical evidence.
Moral theories that are supported by logic and evidence are true. All other moral theories are false.

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hazek
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February 07, 2012, 04:43:33 AM
 #17

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts.

Is that an opinion?

He is merely stating that there is no proof to support a conclusion to the contrary therefor not an opinion. I'm sure if you can prove as a matter of fact that ethics aren't just based on opinion he will admit he was wrong.

Ok, I'm sure you (hazek) are familiar with this argumentation:

Universally Preferable Behavior in a Nutshell (by Stefan Molyneux)

Below, please find a summation of the core argument for morality.

Reality is objective and consistent.
“Logic” is the set of objective and consistent rules derived from the consistency of reality.
Those theories that conform to logic are called “valid.”
Those theories that are confirmed by empirical testing are called “accurate.”
Those theories that are both valid and accurate are called “true.”
“Preferences” are required for life, thought, language and debating.
Debating requires that both parties hold “truth” to be both objective and universally preferable.
Thus the very act of debating contains an acceptance of universally preferable behaviour (UPB).
Theories regarding UPB must pass the tests of logical consistency and empirical verification.
The subset of UPB that examines enforceable behaviour is called “morality.”
As a subset of UPB, no moral theory can be considered true if it is illogical or unsupported by empirical evidence.
Moral theories that are supported by logic and evidence are true. All other moral theories are false.

Yes of course, unfortunately UPB is invalid as I show here: http://board.freedomainradio.com/forums/t/34084.aspx (my OP isn't as clear as it could be but if you read all my posts you'll see exactly why it's invalid)

Stef makes the preposterous mistake of pretending that preference = requirement which is the same as if I claimed 2+2=5 but also 5=4, as soon as he does that he renders his whole argument invalid by his own standards.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
hazek
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February 07, 2012, 04:50:58 AM
 #18

But real quick:

“Preferences” are required for life, thought, language and debating.
That is false. In order to live it's not merely preferred to breathe, drink, eat ect, it is required. Same goes for anything else. As soon as you have an subjective goal(staying alive), you also have objective requirements(breathing, drinking, ect). Without a goal you merely have a subjective preference. Subjective preferences != objective requirements.

Quote
Debating requires that both parties hold “truth” to be both objective and universally preferable.
According to who? You? Unless your subjective goal is to be objectively correct than your statements about what constitutes to a debate is merely your own subjective definition.

Quote
Thus the very act of debating contains an acceptance of universally preferable behaviour (UPB).
Nope, I could be debating with you with an alternate goal in mind(trolling) and a 3rd party observer could still reasonably conclude we are having an debate. Btw look at politicians on TV having a debate, does your definition apply to them? No. But they still call it a debate.

Quote
Theories regarding UPB must pass the tests of logical consistency and empirical verification.
The subset of UPB that examines enforceable behaviour is called “morality.”
As a subset of UPB, no moral theory can be considered true if it is illogical or unsupported by empirical evidence.
Moral theories that are supported by logic and evidence are true. All other moral theories are false.

Therefor UPB is invalid.

And there you go. It's all just Stef's opinion, nothing less, nothing more, unfortunately.

My personality type: INTJ - please forgive my weaknesses (Not naturally in tune with others feelings; may be insensitive at times, tend to respond to conflict with logic and reason, tend to believe I'm always right)

If however you enjoyed my post: 15j781DjuJeVsZgYbDVt2NZsGrWKRWFHpp
majamalu
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February 07, 2012, 06:10:35 AM
 #19

Quote
Debating requires that both parties hold “truth” to be both objective and universally preferable.
According to who? You? Unless your subjective goal is to be objectively correct than your statements about what constitutes to a debate is merely your own subjective definition.
Quote
Thus the very act of debating contains an acceptance of universally preferable behaviour (UPB).
Nope, I could be debating with you with an alternate goal in mind(trolling) and a 3rd party observer could still reasonably conclude we are having an debate.

In that case you'd be trolling, not debating, and that can be proven. Of course, a 3rd party observer could still conclude that you are debating, but he would be wrong. The important question is: Are you basing your arguments on logic and/or empirical evidence? If so, then you are debating. You are free to call "debate" to a mere exchange of insults, for instance, but you'd be wrong.

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February 07, 2012, 06:37:40 AM
 #20

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The observation that it is unethical to use force to control people’s private financial transactions is not an opinion. People who advocate the control of others by force and by default can be demonstrated to be immoral and unethical from first principles and logic.

Stopped reading right there. Ethics is subjective by nature, first principles (axioms) are always unprovable and often arbitrary, even more so in ethics. Furthermore, humans and systems created by humans are not mathematical constructs and binary logic need not apply.

All ethics is based on opinions, not facts. Some opinion may hold true given a certain set of axioms but that doesn't make it an absolute truth outside that system, no matter how much you wish it to be true.

Wow, a thinking person, at bitcointalk no less. You must get flamed and called a troll frequently during your ramblings here.

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