The Great Bitcoin Debate: Brain Baffles Brawn, 'Grok' Baffles All

  • July 28, 2021
  • Robert Honeywill
  • 53


I freely admit a high degree of skepticism about Bitcoin. But I could be wrong.

Apparently it's not enough for investors to understand Bitcoin, they must "grok" it.

After researching the meaning of grok, I'm not sure if earthling believers really grok Bitcoin, or have been grokked by Martians.

Please join me on a journey into the fascinating world of Bitcoin believers.

But be warned, if you are an equity investor, you just might not be capable of grokking Bitcoin.

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Bitcoin: Investment Thesis

In his recent article, "Forget Bitcoin, DeFi Is The Next Game In Town," Clem Chambers writes:

Bitcoin and Ethereum are currencies or some such similar instrument. As such equity investors aren’t really cut out to grok them.

Undeterred, I set out to learn all there is to know about "grok," to give myself half a chance of grokking Bitcoin (BTC-USD). As luck would have it, I found this comprehensive dissertation in Wikipedia,

Descriptions of grok in Stranger in a Strange Land:

Critic David E. Wright Sr. points out that in the 1991 "uncut" edition of Stranger, the word grok "was used first without any explicit definition on page 22" and continued to be used without being explicitly defined until page 253 (emphasis in original).[3] He notes that this first intensional definition is simply "to drink," but that this is only a metaphor "much as English 'I see' often means the same as 'I understand.'" [3] Critics have bridged this absence of explicit definition by citing passages from Stranger that illustrate the term. A selection of these passages follows:

Grok means "to understand," of course, but Dr. Mahmoud, who might be termed the leading Terran expert on Martians, explains that it also means, "to drink" and "a hundred other English words, words which we think of as antithetical concepts. "Grok" means all of these. It means "fear," it means "love," it means "hate" – proper hate, for by the Martian "map" you cannot hate anything unless you grok it, understand it so thoroughly that you merge with it and it merges with you – then you can hate it. By hating yourself. But this implies that you love it, too, and cherish it and would not have it otherwise. Then you can hate – and (I think) Martian hate is an emotion so black that the nearest human equivalent could only be called mild distaste.[4]

Grok means "identically equal." The human cliché "this hurts me worse than it does you" has a distinctly Martian flavor. The Martian seems to know instinctively what we learned painfully from modern physics, that observer acts with observed through the process of observation. Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed – to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science and it means as little to us as color does to a blind man.[4][5]

The Martian Race had encountered the people of the fifth planet, grokked them completely, and had taken action; asteroid ruins were all that remained, save that the Martians continued to praise and cherish the people they had destroyed.[4]

All that groks is God.[6]

With this new found knowledge, and still in pursuit of understanding... oops, I should say grokking Bitcoin, I was excited to see announcement of an upcoming podcast, "Wall Street Breakfast: The ₿ Word", a description of the impressive cast, and promising to "demistify and destigmatise" Bitcoin,

Coming up tomorrow is The "B" Word launch. In the organizers' words: "A Bitcoin focused initiative that aims to demystify and destigmatize mainstream narratives about Bitcoin, explain how institutions can embrace it, and raise awareness around areas of the network that need support." The main event at noon ET will feature a live discussion between Cathie Wood, Jack Dorsey (who appears to have more than a surface-level understanding of Bitcoin) and Elon Musk (let's not even get started). Will Musk abandon his bearishness on Bitcoin as it relates to things like energy usage and block size (i.e. admit he was wrong)? Not likely. Or might the Technoking of Tesla announce the company has sold some of its $1.5B stash of bitcoin? Added?

Bitcoin: Clues to demystification from the star-studded panel

Cathie Wood per excerpts from blog dated July 21, 2021, together with author's comments -

Bitcoin is "social"... help nations that depend on remittances, such as El Salvador and Tonga... "That is social responsibility."

Author's comment - Solving the issues that cause dependence on remittances might be a more worthwhile objective than solving a remittance problem for 0.084% of the world's population. The Tongans are likely more concerned about being flooded by rising sea levels contributed to by the huge and irresponsible use of electrical energy to produce a meager 21 million Bitcoins.

...crypto can save people in hyper-inflationary environments from destruction of purchasing power," which can help people in authoritarian countries.

Author's comment - what about those in non-authoritarian countries, particularly those who bought around $65,000 price for Bitcoin and have seen their purchasing power and their "store of value" halved in a very short period?

Democratization and transparency... we have Bitcoin's DNA from that point of view

Author's comment: I guess I haven't been grokked by Martians and therefore don't have Bitcoin's DNA, so pardon me if I can't see what's democratic or transparent about Bitcoin. As I wrote in a recent article, "Bitcoin: There's Money In Muck, But Watch Your Step"... Bitcoin is nothing more than a bunch of digital characters generated by a bunch of shady characters." And what is transparent about the originator of Bitcoin?

Companies that didn't innovate enough... "Their products will go obsolete and the companies will be left with the debt."

Author's comment: Does that mean companies must show they are innovative by buying Bitcoin, or perish? It's a conference about Bitcoin after all.

Wood: Bitcoin's limit of 21M coins ever means its primary use right now is store of value. "Purchasing power will go up over time."

Author's comment: An unsubstantiated opinion, not a demystification.

...blockchain technology and artificial intelligence to change the world that we cannot imagine right now

Author's comment: Is the world so bad we are prepared to change it to something unimaginable?

Elon Musk per excerpts from blog dated July 21, 2021 together with author's comments -

...We have to watch for bitcoin's use of energy. "There appears to be a positive trend" in addressing Bitcoin's energy usage, Musk said. "Looks like bitcoin is shifting a lot more to renewables."

Author's comment: If little else, Tonga has lots of sunshine and wind. Musk did a great service setting up the world's largest battery in South Australia, largely solving a problem with intermittent renewables, and contributing to the advancement of green power. I believe Musk could be just the person to set up Bitcoin mining in Tonga using green wind and solar power, providing local employment and solving both the rising seas and the remittances problems for that country.

Musk said outside of Tesla (TSLA -1.0%) and SpaceEx (SPACE) stock, his only other holdings are BTC, Ethereum (ETH-USD), and Dogecoin (DOGE-USD).

Author's comment: What's all this focus on space and cryptos? Has Musk been grokked by Martians or is he a Martian stranded on Earth, looking for a means to get back home?

...And he'd lose money if bitcoin declines. "I might pump but I don't dump... I would like to see bitcoin succeed."

Author's comment: Yes, wouldn't we all like it to succeed if we had that much US fiat cash held in Bitcoin. I still don't grok how Bitcoin will succeed or what it will succeed at - I'm still not demystified about what will make Bitcoin successful, as promised by this blog.

Jack Dorsey per excerpts from blog dated July 21, 2021, together with author's comments:

"What inspires me most is the community driving it."

Author's comments: Really? An excerpt from my recent article linked above, "Remember the role of ratings agencies in promoting CDOs leading up to the collapse of that synthetic market and the onset of the Global Financial crisis ("GFC")? Well, as I stated above, there's money in muck and the race for fees is on again. History is repeating itself."... "So, in 2018 S&P considered Bitcoin did not pose systemic risk, only because it did not have a large market cap and was only held by small investors. But Bitcoin now has a huge market cap and more and more large financial institutions are being drawn in, like sharks to a school of bait fish. And yet, in these changed circumstances, S&P appears to be promoting Bitcoin rather than warning of the potential impact on the broader financial system it raised in 2018."

Current money systems aren't relevant in the current world, Dorsey adds, "especially when you look to countries in the developing world, like Nigeria."

Author's comments: So, for what's relevant to the world we should look to Nigeria, the place where a lot of very innovative money scams originate? I guess if you are a Nigerian scammer Bitcoin could be very relevant to your activities.

Dorsey emphasizes that bitcoin incentivizes innovation in the energy space. "Imagine all the unused energy that is being wasted every single day... How do we re-use what is currently be dumped on the ground and wasted? How do we implement that at scale?"

Author's comments: Musk will no doubt be delighted to learn Bitcoin could be the answer to the intermittency of renewable energy.

Dorsey sees his role as pushing for more decentralization. "My biggest focus right now is decentralized social media protocol," he said.

Author's comment: The conference promised to "demistify and destigmatise" Bitcoin. Is this something like CO2 emissions offsets? Destigmatise Bitcoin by offsetting beneficial actions to decentralize social media protocol.

While the bitcoin network is "beautifully designed as a protocol," it can be confusing for the average person, that's where there's the need for better entry through wallets, Dorsey said.

Author's comment: Dorsey is effectively saying no point in trying to explain Bitcoin to all you average people out there, you wouldn't understand. As a former boss of mine, a Stanford MBA and a great mentor would respond, "try me."

Dorsey's hope is that bitcoin leads to world peace.

Author's comments: Wow!!! How???

The B Word: Summing Up

Demistifiying and destigmatising Bitcoin -

I had high hopes "The ₿ Word" conference would demystify Bitcoin for me. It did not. I guess because I'm just an average person, I still do not understand, I do not grok, why anyone would pay more than $30,000 for a Bitcoin, unless it was because they believed they would be able to sell it for more than what they paid. That's the only valid reason I can come up with. For me, the conference did not demystify Bitcoin as a currency, an investment or as a store of value. My main takeaway from the conference is Bitcoin is not about money or investment, it is about bringing social justice to the poor, the disadvantaged, and the oppressed, and bringing peace to the world. Now who could possibly argue against that? But, if that is not enough to destigmatise Bitcoin for you, then just consider it could also be the answer to climate change by storing all that renewable energy currently, "dumped on the ground and wasted". I can't tell you how Bitcoin would do all these wonderful things, because that was not explained.

Bitcoin from an investment viewpoint"

As Clem Chambers says, if you are an equity investor you are not cut out to grok Bitcoin. So, if someone wants to sell you Bitcoin, run a mile, unless you're feeling lucky, the kind of lucky feeling you might get at a casino. If you are currently holding, sorry you grokking Martians, I should say 'hodling' Bitcoin, Sell! Sell! Sell! Unless of course, you too have that lucky feeling you might get at a casino.

Source: seekingalpha


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