What is a proud college dropout, world traveler, Ayn Rand devotee, and son of an international arms dealer doing artfully, doggedly defending bitcoin as a form of cash? Not even out of his 20s, Derek Magill is many times wiser than his chronological age lets on. In fact, he’s arguably the most important apologist around when it comes to bitcoin cash (BCH). Through rational arguments, funny retorts, solid philosophical foundations, he’s developed quite a following. He’s even started his own think tank, The Nakamoto Studies Institute, to document BCH’s importance in monetary history. News.Bitcoin.com caught up with the troll slayer for an exclusive interview.
News.Bitcoin.com (BC): You waded into litecoin for a while, hoping to find a crypto sans excessive fees and mempool nonsense, right? I remember you posting a schematic or something, explaining how it worked to your grandfather. Derek Magill (DM): That’s correct. I gave up on the cryptocurrency community not long after I got my first bitcoin in 2013. I bought bitcoin here and there over the years, but I never liked what I saw as indefinite utopianism in the space — that kept me away from participating. The events leading up to Mike Hearn’s famous exit piece made me glad I’d stayed out of it at the time. But I started getting excited again in early 2017.
I liked the fact that, at the time at least, the Litecoin community was committed to litecoin being usable for real-world commerce. There were problems with litecoin’s value proposition from the start that I was aware of (mostly in the fact that the ‘silver to bitcoin’s gold’ analogy sounds nice but is nonsensical), but I hoped it would be able to come out from bitcoin core’s [BTC] shadow as the developers and the community took BTC down a road that seemed increasingly irrational. And in a way, I think I was vindicated for a time. Litecoin grew in price and volume incredibly in mid-to-late 2017, I think in large part because people needed a more reliable way to transfer value than BTC. But when it became clear to me that the Litecoin roadmap was little more than testing ground for BTC’s roadmap, right around the time BCH got off the ground I traded my Litecoin for BCH, which I now think has the only serious chance of challenging BTC’s roadmap. Frankly, Litecoin is still one of my best investments though, funny enough.
Argumentum ad Rogerum
BC: Your favoritism of bitcoin cash has turned toward advocacy. Is it important BCH proponents be versed in apologetics? DM: Long term, no. You should be able to be philosophically illiterate but still be able to transact with BCH and get value from it. In the short term, I have been totally surprised by the effectiveness of the Core madness, and I suspect the more reasoned arguments we can deliver on the BCH side to counter that will be valuable. That’s why I’ve spent so much time writing. I do think in general BCH/BTC need more communicators, philosophers, writers, salespeople, marketers, and creatives. Developer-only culture is the reason we got into this mess to begin with.
BC: One of the first viral essays you wrote about BCH was to separate its more charismatic advocates from the cryptocurrency itself, Argumentum ad Rogerum. Why is that important? DM: That really had two goals. On the one hand, I think Roger Ver is a hero for the work he’s done, and what is being done to his reputation by idiotic internet losers and a handful of genuinely mean people is disgraceful. I wanted to counter that.
On the other hand, and related directly to your question, I think it’s a very bad sign for investors if the success of Bitcoin is said to rest on a tiny handful of good or bad actors. The simple fact is that Roger could be a total scammer charlatan and it wouldn’t change my evaluation of Bitcoin Cash. I wanted to point out the stupidity and hypocrisy of making everything about Roger and show how it is not an argument at all. Core’s obsession with the personal character of Roger and others as arguments against Bitcoin Cash is frankly more revealing about their own warped views of Bitcoin than BCH or Ver.
Nakamoto Studies Institute
BC: The Staggering Lies and Scams of Bitcoin Core is a definitive polemic of its subject matter. What drove you to write it? DM: That was a fun one to write. I suppose it was directly inspired by a rather unlettered rant Saifedean Ammous left me on Twitter about how BCH is a scam run by sociopaths and criminals, the same old nonsense you hear all the time.
More broadly though, it was just this question of “scam” in general. You hear it all the time that BCH is a scam but very little evidence is ever given besides the fact that Roger Ver sold some firecrackers on Ebay once and Jihan Wu is from China. Meanwhile, there’s a good deal of evidence that a lot of bad things have been done by people in the BTC community that might be relevant to potential investors.
I wanted to make a roundup of the ones I considered most egregious — the puffed up lawsuits against Bitcoin.com by people who claim to be anarchists, the false advertising on Bitcoin dot org that went on for months and months, and the imaginary victims, they claim are ‘deceived by BCH,’ but whom they can never point to, are just a few. These are evil, evil acts and they should be brought to light, especially when their perpetrators are constantly pretending they have some kind of moral high ground. Maybe more importantly, as Roger himself as said, the propaganda and censorship was effective. BTC became a cult, and if we want to prevent that from happening in BCH, speaking out fast and effectively will be one step to doing so. BC: Your advocacy has bloomed to starting an online Institute. It’s attracted at least one of the founders of the original idea. In fact, he’s left (or was booted), and has said he intends to collab with you. You’ve described it as a fork. What are your hopes for the Nakamoto Studies Institute? DM: A lot of the lies in the Bitcoin world today can be addressed by returning to Satoshi’s writings. I want to create the world’s best archive of his writings so that you can easily search them by keyword.
For example, if you want to find Satoshi discussing Moore’s Law (he does) or ‘micropayments’ (he does that too), you’ll be able to click a link and find all the times he mentioned those terms. I think that’s powerful intellectual ammo for people who want to defend themselves against Core propaganda and who want to push the development of Bitcoin in the right direction.
Satoshi is not God, of course, but nor are the Core developers (they seem to have forgotten that). Satoshi’s writings are a good reminder to the world of that fact. It’s a good check against the 1984-style rewriting of Bitcoin’s history they’ve been attempting recently.
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Images via the Pixabay, Dominic Frisby’s Financial Game Show.
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