I came across Ryan Selkis’ tweet below and it blew my mind that not a single institution came to mind. Since I couldn’t think of one I asked my dad. The best he could come up with was his local butcher. Then he muttered, under his breath, “I’m skeptical of those guys…” Can you name one? It wouldn’t surprise me if you can’t easily name an institution you trust. Our blank answers reveal an uncomfortable reality we live in a world we do not trust.
We are numb to this reality subconsciously but still consciously believe in trust: when you read the tweet, your brain tells you, “I could probably ring off a few” then your heart immediately follows, “oh fuck I can’t name a single one”.
Trust is Subjective but Let’s Talk Objective
We are born with an inherent understanding of what it means. While trust does not need to be defined, it is worth applying a framework around which we can discuss its’ relevance. Let’s agree we can rate trust in institutions on a spectrum from 0–10, our trust meters. Zero represents no trust and 10 being perfection.
Try to rank a few examples of your choice and you will discover your scoring system is fuzzy at best. Your answers will be adjusting as they attempt to find equilibrium. This is expected as trust is subjective making it easier to qualitative and harder to quantitate. This is an important distinction when it comes to rating trust in purely quantitative objects.
Calibrating our Trust Meter
We all subconsciously calibrate our trust meters from birth to death in order to better understand the world around us. We all use it in grade school to separate friend from foe. In its basic form, trust acts as a binary. Our experiences naturally shape and refine our trust meter. And what started a binary becomes a complex matrix containing categories and rating gradients. You might trust your best friend to bail you out of jail but that doesn’t mean he’s the guy you trust to answer your question on astrophysics.
The goal for us all is to refine our trust meter to fit reality as closely as possible. He who achieves this will objectively have a better life.
Our ability to accurately place a person on the trust meter becomes an increasing determinant of the quality of our lives as we mature. But what happens when we have miscalibrated trust meters? Adults today have a tendency to start at neutral-mistrust and work their way upwards. Children have a tendency to start at neutral-trust and work their way down. However you choose to characterize why this happens (e.g. age to cynicism correlation, jaded through time, mankind is evil, etc.), the end result is we have no institutions that score a 10, 9, or 8 on the trust meter.
Scarcity of High-Grade Trust
Modern life is inundated with low scoring inputs (<5 trust scale). Almost all masquerading as worthy high scores. We have an abundance of fakeness, think photoshop; bullshit, think clickbait; lies, all politician; and scams, trillion-dollar bailouts. We filter through so much garbage on a daily basis it saps our time and energy. The silver lining is we have acutely developed bullshit detectors.
Our blindspot is our severely under-developed ability to identify trusted gold standards. The opportunity cost of misclassifying a high trust gold standard for low trust comes at an extraordinary premium. But how is that possible? Shouldn’t high trust be blatantly obvious? High trust institutions are hard to identify often because we never see them. Boasting loudly is antithetical to building trust, that’s slowly changing. Trust is easily destroyed through the creation of cheap fake news which goes viral more often than real news.
Our trust meters are heavily weighted with 1–5 score inputs and lacking in scoring inputs from 5–10. That is a tragedy. So here is the only institution we have all have heard of which hides like an elephant in plain sight that is poorly misjudged and libeled to death: Bitcoin.
The Last Symbol of Trust
99% of people immediately classify Bitcoin with a low trust score. Before you prematurely label it, consider the opportunity cost of passing on a 10. With the world on quarantine, “I have no time” is no longer an excuse. I have no doubt you’ve heard Bitcoin is a scam, a Ponzi scheme, used only by nefarious actors — all libel. Stop reading easy bake headlines crafted by others and look at Bitcoin in the raw yourself.
The good news is we all have finely calibrated bullshit meters. Use your lack of trust to your advantage and play devil’s advocate with Bitcoin. Call bullshit, question everything. In Bitcoin circles there is a motto: verify don’t trust. Do it yourself, for yourself, doubting Bitcoin at every level. The answers you will find are all rooted in absolute math and universal logic.
The content is everywhere. All you need to give is your time. The entire Bitcoin codebase is publicly available for review. If that’s too technical, read The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous or the Internet of Money by Andreas Antonopoulos. If reading isn’t your cup of tea, watch the Joe Rogan interview with Andreas Antonopoulos.
If you find yourself saying any of the below, you might need to call bullshit on yourself:
- “I stopped looking because it was too difficult to understand.”
- “So and so said this one thing about Bitcoin is bullshit.”
- “There is so much negative news it has to be bullshit.”
- “I too busy during Stay at Home quarantine. Just don’t have the time.”
If you make an honest attempt to prove Bitcoin is bullshit, you might just discover what a true 10 looks like. I personally believe Bitcoin is our last institution of trust. I challenge you to find out for yourself.