Boy in Corner wearing Dunce Cap

\ˈkriptō,dən(t)s\

noun

A person(s) who, usually via interview, vlogging or media, is presented (by agency or of their own volition) as an expert or educated in the field of Cryptocurrency, Blockchain or Smart Contract technology but in reality lacks any training, credentials or academic knowledge about these new, revolutionary technologies, who then proceeds to verbally regurgitate nonsense and misinformation, about cryptocurrencies, without verification, validation or even a vetting process.

I want to talk about a phenomenon that I have witnessed in the Cryptocurrency space since I first got involved back in 2012. Unfortunately this phenomenon is not isolated to just the Crypto Space, in fact it’s origins may be rooted in the earliest of man’s communications and collaborations.

This phenomenon is not new and there have been extensive studies about it. This very dangerous phenomenon actually has a name; the Dunning Kruger Effect. In short, the Dunning Kruger effect is a cognitive bias of illusory superiority in which individuals are unable to asses their personal ability. i.e. The less you know about a subject, the more likely you are to speak as if you are an expert!!!!

As crazy as this seems, this is real. It actually works in reverse too; The more an individual knows about a subject (especially as that person becomes an expert in the subject) the more likely they are to NOT speak as an expert. The expert individual becomes so aware of the downfalls or problems of a particular subject that he becomes increasingly adverse to speaking out on the subject. In addition, as we gain expertise, we are more able to see just how little we know about a subject and hence we refrain from speaking out on the subject as an expert. It’s a paradox.

dunning-kruger effect in graph
dunning-kruger effect in graph

So Ironically the more a person talks… the less you should be listening. LOL, oh man… too funny!! It’s actually only funny until you realize it’s true.

So why does this matter, why am I even talking about this?

We are at a time when anyone can set up their own media dissemination entity for almost free, e.g. Youtube Vlogger. Then with the clever use of “click-bait” titles, that person can grow their Media Entity to thousands (if not millions) of subscribers, almost overnight, and pedal misinformation all day long. These new entities become powerful influencers and quite dangerous if their information is wrong or malicious.

To make maters worse, no one is vetting these new information portals or their progenitors. No one is checking to see if the so-called “experts” are actually qualified or even sane. Adding further complexity and confusion is the fact that in the cryptocurrency space, who is even qualified to do the vetting of the experts in the first place? There are literally only a few thousand cryptocurrency experts on the entire planet and even those guys get it wrong from time to time.

Compounding this insanity, news media will interview anyone in the finance business (hungry for more “clickbait”) about cryptocurrencies because journalists think “Well, cryptos are just money. Let’s ask a banker”. This is sooooooo wrong. Even if it were right, shouldn’t we be weary of talking to anyone in finance and listening to anything bankers and wallstreet guys have to say? I mean, didn’t we learn anything from 2008? #InsolvencyMuch #FractionalReserveBanking

Here are some classic examples of historical Dunning Kruger Effect on max (mostly paraphrased).

The Beatles, shown here during a press tour for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in May 1967, could have been a smashing success for Decca Records, but Dick Rowe dropped the ball.
The Beatles, shown here during a press tour for “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in May 1967, could have been a smashing success for Decca Records, but Dick Rowe dropped the ball.

In 1962, Dick Rowe, an executive at Decca Record declined to sign The Beatles saying “guitar bands are no longer hot”. https://history.howstuffworks.com/historical-events/10-worst-decisions2.htm

Rackham scraped together $5,000 by borrowing some money and selling some real estate parcels.[4] With great uncertainty and against the advice of others, (the president of the Michigan Savings Bank infamously told Rackham, "The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad,"
Rackham invested $5,000 into Ford in 1903. Trying to dissuade Rackham, the president of the Michigan Savings Bank infamously told Rackham, “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad,”

The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.” – -The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value. - Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French military strategist, 1911. He was later a World War I commander.
Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value. – Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French military strategist, 1911. He was later a World War I commander.

Here we see the preeminent Marshal Ferdinand Foch, a famous french military strategist scoffing at airplanes. This is no different to the politicians or bankers who scoff at cryptocurrencies.

CryptoDunce: warning signs

So how do you know you are watching a CryptoDunce. It’s actually not that difficult… they are usually being interviewed LOL. Seriously though, if we are getting information/advice from persons answering crypto related questions here’s at least some of what we want to see (FYI at least 30% of the criteria on this list should be met):

  • A Computer Science Degree
    • It’s not totally necessary but it is comforting… cryptocurrencies are, after all, a software protocol. You think a banker can read software?
  • Working on verifiable projects in the cryptocurrency space – REAL PROJECTS!
  • Have been in the Cryptocurrency space for at least one full up-and-down-cycle, but the longer the better.
  • The individual can prove they have personally held cryptocurrencies (by signing a message to a wallet address) dating back at least 3 years, preferably 6 years.
    • THIS ONE IS IMPORTANT!! ^^ You can’t trust anyone’s advices or opinions in crypto if they don’t/haven’t used or transacted crypto. Good or bad. i.e. You can’t critique a whopper if you haven’t eaten one!!
  • Can answer some of these questions without hesitation:
    • In POW who creates the problem that miners solve?
    • What is that problem?
    • Who verifies the answers (if any) to that problem?
    • How is consensus achieved in POW?
    • Juxtapose risk in POW vs. POS?
    • Who is Martin Malmi?
    • Who is Gavin Wood?
    • Who is Eric Vorhees?
    • Who is Trace Mayer?
    • Where was Bitcoin first promulgated to the public?
    • How does Bitcoin solve for the Byzantine Generals Problem – Philosophy and mechanically?
    • What is Proof of Burn?

Ok, so that gives us somewhere to start. A person who comports to the full list above is no doubt a CryptoExpert. Now, you will have to do your homework a little and continue to build similar criteria to determine expertise but this is a great starting point.

CryptoDunces giving their “expert opinion” on cryptocurrencies.

In finishing up, for fun, I compiled some videos of the big names on wall street who share their opinions and advices on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies. This is pure, quintessential Dunning Kruger. As you watch this, think about the criteria list above and if these guys have the required knowledge to answer questions about cryptocurrencies.

Final Note: This concept of the CryptoDunce can be applied to all facets of information dissemination.

In the near future I will begin doing critique videos for these CryptoDunces.

Here’s a fun little youtube interview of Dr. Dunning discussing Dunning Kruger Effect with The David Pakman Show