Saturday, May 28, 2022

James Woods Trolls Bitcoiners on Twitter, But Does He Have a Point?

James Woods Trolls Bitcoiners on Twitter, But Does He Have a Point?

Controversial Hollywood star James Woods has engaged Bitcoin fans and enemies in a Twitter debate. Bitcoin, he claimed, enabled criminal activity and its supporters are overly-sensitive to criticism.

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The 70 year-old star of Shark, Salvador and Ghosts of Mississippi — who’s best known for his bad-guy portrayals and provoking Democrat supporters on social media — opened with the following:

Woods’ 756,000 Twitter followers include a wide selection of Bitcoin fans and regular people. Several agreed with him, while others pointed out ransomware is more likely to victimize the non-tech savvy than people who actually own cryptocurrency.

Criticisms displayed the usual misunderstandings of how Bitcoin works, describing it variously as completely untraceable, a Chinese conspiracy, or “like collecting Beanie Babies”.

Woods was happy to engage the crowd, responding to an accusation that he might have an ulterior motive:

“(I’m) old enough to spot a Ponzi scheme when I see one,” he replied to one Bitcoiner who suggested his advanced age might be the issue.

“I’m not against #bitcoin. For you! Just personally uncomfortable with the idea of losing one’s net worth to a mouse click from the Dark Web.”

But the vocal conservative/libertarian noted he’s no fan of the fiat system either, writing: “Feel the same way about the Fed, too! Anything of value managed by a cabal is not for me. I’ll take things that have real value, thanks.”

Woods also compared Bitcoiners to alchemists, before tweeting out his coup de grace:

This final post prompted the longest debate. However it didn’t completely prove Woods’ point — Bitcoiners certainly defended their positions, but very few were rude or impolite. On the contrary, most attacks seemed to come from the anti-digital currency side.

Could Woods Actually Be Right?

Woods’ critical take on Bitcoin isn’t new. In May 2017 he compared it to a Ponzi scheme, tweeting “If Bernie Madoff were reincarnated as an algorithm: #Bitcoin”.

Some within the cryptocurrency community have raised the topic too. Strong Bitcoin proponents like Chris De Rose and Joshua Unseth have at times questioned whether it may be a “naturally-occurring Ponzi”.

World Bank policy researcher Kaushik Basu also argued in a 2014 paper Bitcoin fit the “standard definition of a speculative bubble” that benefited early investors — but added “Bitcoin is not a deliberate Ponzi”.

Woods did make a valid point, though: some Bitcoiners (and devotees of most new technologies) don’t handle criticism well:

The above tweet, as well as being ad hominem, is not a debate-winner by any stretch. Bitcoiners also have a bad habit of using price gains as an argument to “prove” Bitcoin’s viability.

While those who bought and sold at the right time did make impressive gains, it’s not Bitcoin’s purpose — and mentioning price only fuels further warnings about Ponzis and sudden losses.

Even a true believer could easily have gone all-in at $1,200 USD in November 2013, before crashing out at $200 some time in 2015. If price wasn’t a good defense for those two years, then it isn’t now.

Perhaps the best response to ill-informed attacks on Bitcoin comes from Roger Ver, who says “the best thing about Bitcoin is no-one’s forcing you to use it.” If you don’t like Bitcoin, then it’s simple — don’t hold any.

Do you agree with any of James Woods’ comments? Share your opinions below.

Images via Twitter, Wikimedia Commons

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