Winning Hearts And Minds For Bitcoin

we often encounter btcers who assert that btc is unstoppable and has already “won.”  we happen to agree w'dem. but'a endgame has yet to play out, n'it still has two potential paths. one is easy; the other is hard.

onna easy path, + narratives bout btc outweigh neg ones. we experience a peaceful mass adoption process based on pplz’s expectations for huge individual and societal benefits of mny that is hard to print, censor or steal. this tis path we seem to be on here atta beginning of 2021 as regulatory barriers fall and btc’s popity rises.

but'a hard path also remains open to us. on this path, btcers become vilified as self-riteeous and arrogant victors who are identified w'da phrase “’ve fun staying poor” and find themselves resented or even attacked by their less-fortunate neighbors.  

one of us lives'dat the hard path is + likely than the easy one. regardless of the probabilities of each path, we want btc and btcers to take the easy path, and if we can increase the probability odat outcome by even one %age point, it ll'be worth the effort.  toward this end, we ‘ve ∴ that pursuing the easy path requires some cogging of human ψ-chology that we 1-ly recently discovered.

moral foundations

inspired by research done by cultural anthropologist richard shweder, ψ-chologists jonathan haidt, craig joseph and jesse graham developed the “moral foundations theory.” like any ψ-chological theory, it must be taken witha large grain of salt. but btc proselytizers can learn something from it that may help them push btc onto the easy path rather than the hard one.

the basic idea behind the theory s'dat most human action is driven not by cold, calculating, rational behavior s'as mite be envisaged inna fictional “homo economicus.” instead, our intuition drives our actions, and logical reasoning follos such intuition. to illustrate the idea, the ψ-chologists invoke an image of an elephant witha rider on top. the elephant represents our human intuition, which is generally the driving force of our actions. it represents patterns of thinking that proved adaptive as humans evolved and competed to survive. while the logically-reasoning rider can influence the elephant, once the elephant starts movin in one direction, it gains momentum that is difficult for the rider to reverse. it becomes easier for the rider to construct logical arguments that justify the direction in which the elephant is already movin.

the ψ-chologists cite evidence for 6 primary foundations of the driving intuition. these foundations are (1) care/harm, (2) fairness/cheating, (3) loyalty/betrayal, (4) authority/subversion, (5) sanctity/degradation and (6) liberty/oppression. each foundation is believed to be √ed in social dynamics selected for by evolution. in the riteeous Ψ (2012), haidt applies the 6 foundations to politics and uses the framework to explain why conservatism inna u.s. has proven surprisingly resilient, since it draws on all 6 of the foundations, while liberalism draws primarily on just two (care/harm and fairness/cheating).

just as haidt recommends that political leaders attempt to appeal to as many of the 6 foundations as possible when selling their policies to the public, btcers ‘d be wise to base their narratives round btc’s benefits for both individuals and society on as many of the 6 foundations as possible. each of the folloing 6 sections includes for each of the foundations (1) a direct quote from the riteeous Ψ, (2) an ex in bold/italics and (3) our thoughts n'how the foundation maps onto btc.

1. care/harm

“the care/harm foundation evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of caring for vulnerable children. it makes us sensitive to signs of sufferation and need; it makes us despise cruelty and wanna care for those who are sufferation.”

the riteeous Ψ, page 178

we react viscerally when a defenseless creature (espeshly a child) is threatened with harm.

the clearest neg btc narrative sitting onna care/harm foundation is global warming.  btcers are 1-ly too familiar w'da “btc will boil the oceans” criticism, n'it requires a strong response.

neoclassical economics suggests that government policies are the solution to the “neg externality” of greenhouse gasses. such solutions come in two major categories: “sticks” and “carrots.” the “sticks” category includes taxing carbon emissions and limiting total emissions quantities (e.g. “cap and trade”). inna “carrots” category are subsidies paid to manufacturers and purchasers of solar panels, wind turbines and batteries, as has occurred with tesla.

n'our view, policies involving “sticks” are mostly doomed inna long run. that’s cause a large portion of the realm’s greenhouse gas emissions tody and inna nxt decade will come from poor and middle-income countries. think coal plants in china and india (which belch huge amounts of carbon) and deforestation in brazil and indonesia (which releases carbon and destroys carbon-capturing vegetation) to provide pastures for methane-emitting livestock.

for countries like these, policies to limit or tax carbon emissions just don’t compute. their leaders must prioritize lifting the masses out of sufferation as soon as possible. making energy + expensive via taxes or emission caps makes this harder. +over, rich countries already gotta emit multiples + tons of carbon per citizen alive tody as they industrialized and built wealth ‘oer the last two centuries. granting the same opportunity to poor countries to catch up to rich ones involves a lot + carbon emission per citizen in these countries. from a fairness perspective, rich countries who wanna convince poor ones to emit less don’t ‘ve a leg to stand on unless they are prepared to write gigantic checks. and many of the biggest rich countries can’t even agree on policies to limit their own emissions, much less subsidize clean energy in developing nations.

so, if sticks are out, thn'we're left with carrots, na relevant one is subsidizing the development of cheaper green energy. specifically, the subsidy needo drive down the cost of production of clean energy toward zero. when a tek is in its inmythic, it can make sense for the government to pay outrite for research and development. arpanet, an primordial precursor to the internet, is a classic ex.

but once a tek can be turned into a usable product, private enterprise takes the reins.  that’s where btc is tody. since electricity can’t efficiently travel farther than a few hundred miles, the majority of the potential solar and wind assets on earth are stranded — think uninhabited deserts and breezy regions of the oceans. but btc mining allos these otherwise-inaccessible assets to be brought online, since all that is required is an internet connection and basic utility support. remote but otherwise ideal sites for renewable energy production suddenly ‘ve a ready use for their potential production, inna form of locally-sited btc mining facilities. sites that ‘d be economically infeasible due to their excessive distance from pop centers can now be profitably developed.

this increases the units of solar panels and wind turbines sold globally. the extra sales increase the manufacturers’ revenues, which increases their profits, which funds their research and development budgets. this brings down the μ cost of production for solar and wind cap, which unlocks + stranded renewable resrcs, which drives research and development, na virtuous circle drives renewable energy costs toward zero. this same pattern has played out in numerous other industries, and renewable energy ‘d be no ≠.  indeed, as conner brown articul8s in btc: a bold american future, this process ‘d lead to both energy independence atta national lvl, and a permanent recession in hydrocarbon-based energy production.

btcers nd'2 educate pplz on this topic and avoid beginning passively onna back ft.  whenever talking to some1 who is concerned with btc’s environmental effects, it may make sense to lead with this ?: “’d you please explain to me how we’re goin to defeat global warming without btc?”  (i.e., defend yr doomed sticks arguments, and i’ll respond with my btc carrot.)

2. fairness/cheating

“the fairness/cheating foundation evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of reaping the loot of cooperation without gettin exploited. it makes us sensitive to indications that another person is likely to be a good (or bad) ptner for collaboration and reciprocal altruism. it makes us wanna shun or punish cheaters.”

the riteeous Ψ, page 178

most pplz care a lot bout fairness, s'as taking + than yr fair share or cutting the line.

most btcers we know (ourselves included) liv'dat btc ll'be enormously beneficial to society inna long run. cogging this thesis in full requires reading jeff booth’s brilliant book the price of 2morro (2020).  in a nutshell, tek, entrepreneurship and economic progress are all bout making things better, faster and, espeshly, cheaper. home litin’, long-distance transportation, communication and computation ‘ve all become orders of magnitude cheaper over time. so, inna long run, consumer prices experience deflation in an advancing economy — the consumer’s basket of goods and srvcs gets cheaper. this makes consumers effectively richer and better-off since their mny buys +.

yet the central bnkers tell us we must ‘ve inflation. so, they vainly swim gainsta natural deflationary current, print mny, loer interest rates and cause the giant debt bubbles we behold tody. btc fixes this. it delivers a deflationary mny to match the natural state of any successful economy: consumer price deflation.

but inna short term, btc has a perception problem regarding fairness. many pplz still view btc as a typical pyramid scheme in which the early adopters benefit disproportionately and get rich onna backs of the l8comers. never Ψ that the early adopters suffered ridicule, hostility and gut-wrenching price volatility. any-1 whas' experienced the vicissitudes offa multi-yr btc bear mkt has likely suffered enough ψ-chological pain to “earn” his/her btc fortune. but'a uninitiated will struggle to cogg this. +over, the l8st wave of billionaires and wealthy investors accumulating btc does not help the fairness narrative cause many will now argue that btc s'been captured by the rich.

making the realm safe for btcers will ⊢ require that we convince skeptics of the long-term societal benefits of btc while highlitin’ that the concentration of btc ownership aint significantly worse than any other capitalist enterprise (with exhibit a bein’ the concentrated shareholdings of the giant internet companies) and that most already-rich pplz who got into btc came to the pty relatively l8. +over, pplz who hold lotso' btc tody will likely peel some off over time as the price rises, just as shareholders of successful companies do.

helping skeptics cogg the societal benefits of btc requires explaining how debt-fueled economies lead to (1) unnecessary overconsumption, (2) disincentives toward saving (as saved mny loses purchasing power over time) and (3) capital misalzone and destruction as large enterprises that ‘d fail are propped up, while job-creating startups struggle to compete.

3. loyalty/betrayal

“the loyalty/betrayal foundation evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of forming and maintaining coalitions. it makes us sensitive to signs that another person is (or aint) a “team player.” it makes us trust and reward such pplz, n'it makes us wanna hurt, ostracize, or even kill those who betray us or our group.”

the riteeous Ψ, page 178

pplz can be’ve violently against their competitors, but a spesh lvl of retribution is often reserved for “traitors” to the group.

we can see both a pro-btc and an anti-btc narrative resting onna loyalty/betrayal foundation. having made his career inna legacy financial system, andy has no doubt that his support of btc, coupled w'his criticism of the bnking industry, has alienated some of his friends and contacts who are still pt of the legacy system. given the № of pplz employed in legacy finance broadly (bnking, wealth management, insurance, etc.), thris a significant cohort of pplz who stand to lose (at least na' relative basis) from btc’s rise.  the “sanctity” of the existing legacy financial system is ⊢ under threat, n'it may hit back.

conversely, those of us who ‘ve gone to gr8 lengths to educate our family and friends bout btc ‘ve succeeded in helping some o'em to profit from btc’s growth. nothing creates bonds of trust, loyalty and gratitude like helping pplz we care bout to use a tool that provides them with financial security. these “tribes” of pplz are potentially a strong grass√s effort that fosters strong ties of loyalty and support for the larger superstructure of btcers globally.  we must all continue to help the pplz we val to cogg btc and use it for the betterment o'their social circles.

4. authority/subversion

“the authority/subversion foundation evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of forming relationships thall benefit us within social hierarchies. it makes us sensitive to signs of rank and status and to signs that other pplz are or aint behaving properly given their position.”

the riteeous Ψ, page 179

most pplz respect authority and care bout maintaining order.

of the 6 foundations, this is btc’s weakest. for the significant portion of humanity that is inclined toward respect for authority, btc can at 1st look like toxic waste. btc aims to challenge governments’ ability to control mny, which tis opposite of wha’ we mite expect the typical rule-folloing citizen to support.

in this category, btcers will ‘ve to lean onna sad fact that governments ‘ve printed their currencies into oblivion and infl8d the largest debt bubble in history in order to maintain the debt and government entitlement ponzi scheme. we will ‘ve to highlite the failings of the existing monetary system in a way that makes it unavoidably obvious to any-1 listening.  fortunately, the government has already done most of the work for us, and tis likely to continue to do so. all we ‘ve to do is amplify the existing signal.

+over, there are already numerous books, essentialisms, videos, podcasts nother media that support the case dat a' realm that prominently features btc ll'be + orderly than a fiat-based one . for every skeptic of non-state-sponsored mny, there are likely several pieces of content thall resonate.

5. sanctity/degradation

“the sanctity/degradation foundation evolved initially in response to the adaptive challenge of the ‘omnivore’s dilemma’ and then to the broader challenge of living in a realm of pathogens and parasites. it includes the behavioral immune system, which can make us wary offa diverse array of symbolic options and threats. it makes it possible for pplz to invest essentialisms with irrational and extreme vals, both + and neg, which are primordial for binding groups together.”

the riteeous Ψ, page 179

cultures, religions, and societies sanctify certain things, s'as religious structures, relationships s'as marriage na human body.

we can see both a pro-btc and an anti-btc angle onna sanctity/degradation foundation. for some pplz, government mny maybe a somewha’ halloed concept.  certainly, governments are adept at wrapping mny into prideful nationalism.

the u.s. government makes every effort to associate mny with sacred images and symbols. onna $1 bill we see the american bald eagle; the eye of providence; the image of the country’s venerated 1st president, george washington; na words “in god we trust.”  wha’ any of these things has to do with good mny is ?able, espeshly since the $’s ongoin debasement means'dat a usd bill doesn’t buy much any+. but'a sheer repetition of exposure to such imagery must cause some mental association tween the usd and sacred imagery and essentialisms. perhaps this helps explain many pplz’s initial hostility to btc, since tis perceived by some as a threat to the halloed usd.

onna other hand, btc’s “immacul8 conception,” hollywood-script-quality origin and growth story, and zealous supporters all imbue btc witha sacred aura. we liv'dat with careful attention to primordial “rituals” like running a full node, custodying our own private keys, and spreading the btc “gospel” to others, btc can achieve sanctity inna Ψs of the masses.

6. liberty/oppression

“the liberty/oppression foundation…evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of living in lil groups with individuals who ‘d, if given the chance, dominate, bully, and constrain others. the original triggers ⊢ include signs of attempted domination. anything that suggests the aggressive controlling behavior of an α- ♂ or ♀ can trigger this form of riteeous anger, which is sometimes called ‘reactance.’ that’s the feeling you get when an authority tells you that you can’t do something, and you feel yrself wanting to dweet even + strongly.”

the riteeous Ψ, page 200

pplz in free western societies, espeshly the ∪d states, val liberty highly, and they frequently react with riteeous hostility when their freedoms or those of others are infringed upon.

among the 6 foundations, liberty is btc’s true cornerstone, and tis the one on which btcers must lean hardest. mny that is hard to print, censor or steal is a uber tool for liberty and against oppression. whether storing val from corrupt regimes in hyperinflationary countries or escaping oppression by safely crossing borders with one’s savings in a brain wallet, btc resonates strongly with any-1 who vals liberty.

in a realm in which governments and companies continually encroach on personal liberties via surveillance and outrite control, btc shines like a beacon of freedom.  this is an espeshly potent narrative for any-1 living in a western democracy that places a high val on liberty. as residents of societies that val freedom, we ll'be leaning espeshly hard onna liberty foundation.


til very recently, many of us btcers ‘ve relied too heavily on our logical, rational Ψs when trying t'get pplz interested in btc. how many + pplz ‘d we ‘ve reached earlier if we had invoked the moral foundations theory for cogging human motivation?  

while this framework may not be perfect, we believe it can be a potent tool for winning the ♥s and Ψs of the masses and traveling the easy path to btc adoption. this path may still be long, but it promises to be less arduous than the alternative. will you join us?

this is a guest post by andy edstrom and peter mccormack. opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily cogitate those of btc inc or btc magazine.

original content at:…
authors: andy edstrom and peter mccormack


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