I get that, for some reason, the Guardian has chosen to take a stand against bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Reading some of its recent headlines, you can clearly see its editorial policy:
The currency of the far-right: why neo-Nazis love bitcoin
Make a fast million from bitcoin? I don’t want any more damage to my soul
Bitcoin biggest bubble in history, says economist who predicted 2008 crash
Missed the bitcoin boom? Five more baffling cryptocurrencies to blow your savings on
Blockchain isn’t about democracy and decentralisation – it’s about greed
But, to be fair to the Guardian, these are all opinion pieces.
However, this week, it went one better and started outright lying and misquoting major institutions.
Here is the opening of the article I’m talking about (emphasis mine):
Governments should consider offering their own cryptocurrencies to prevent the systems becoming havens for fraudsters and money launderers, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund said referring to the fast-growing fintech industry.
In truth, there was no mention of fraudsters or money launderers in Christine Lagarde’s speech. You can read it here.
In fact, there was no bashing of cryptocurrencies at all. Lagarde’s speech was about how central banks could move with the times and adopt their own digital currencies.
However, that doesn’t fit within the Guardian’s agenda. And so it mixed real quotes in with its own lies and passed them off as truth.
It’s a classic propaganda technique. Just change the truth a little bit so it fits your agenda better and then promote the new truth you have created.
This goes one step further than the way media institutions usually control the narrative.
The usual way is simply to only report one side of the story. Or only quote the people who are expressing the opinions you want to promote.
When an incident happens, news groups interview many different people and only choose to broadcast or quote the ones that support the institution’s chosen narrative.
Many times, this isn’t even intentional. It can be done almost subconsciously. And these institutions are aren’t even lying. They are simply choosing to report the story the way they see it.
It’s not so much lying as bias. But it has the same effect. It is still misrepresenting the truth.
That’s why, if you care about getting any truth in your news coverage, it’s important to get news from many different sources and from many different sides of the political spectrum. I have written about this before.
Political tribalism is currently responsible for much of the narrative control we see today.
Different media organisations decide on their political slant and then everything they publish is tainted by and filtered through this lens.
Although it’s not just media organisations that do this. People do it too. As ad man Dave Trott highlighted in an eye-opening blog post this week.
He wrote about Dennis Hof, who was elected to Congress in Nevada in the recent midterms.
Hof was a pimp who owned five brothels. He had also been dead three weeks on the day of the vote.
From Trott’s blog:
His body was found by porn star Ron Jeremy and a prostitute who worked for Hof.
So why would the people of Nevada elect a dead pimp?
Because the law in Nevada is, if they die, the winning candidate is replaced by a member of their own party.
So Dennis Hof would be replaced by a Republican, that was all the voters cared about.
They preferred anyone, even a dead pimp, to a Democrat.
Jennifer O’Kane, who had been repeatedly raped by Hof, said “No Democrat was going to win, that’s just politics.”
That’s what’s happening in America: the Montagues and the Capulets.
Nobody is really listening to what any of the candidates are saying, no one cares.
Policies won’t change anyone’s mind: Republicans just hate Democrats and that’s that.
It’s like gang warfare, the Bloods versus the Crips, on a national scale.
This is why in his latest book, Enlightenment Now, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker described political tribalism as, “the most insidious form of irrationality today.”
So I guess it would be easier to understand the Guardian’s lies if it were reporting on a political issue.
But blockchain and cryptocurrencies have both fans and foes from all sides of the political spectrum. That’s what makes the Guardian’s policy so confusing.
Especially as it is pushing its agenda so strongly that is now outright lying and misquoting people. I can’t really get my head around it. But I thought it was worth highlighting.
What is probably of more importance is what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokeswoman actually said in her presentation.
She was arguing the case for a digital currency created and controlled by central banks.
From her presentation (which I have to admit was very well written):
Central banks might design digital currency so that users’ identities would be authenticated through customer due diligence procedures and transactions recorded. But identities would not be disclosed to third parties or governments unless required by law. So when I purchase my pizza and beer, the supermarket, its bank, and marketers would not know who I am. The state might not either, at least by default.
Anti-money laundering and terrorist financing controls would nevertheless run in the background. If a suspicion arose it would be possible to lift the veil of anonymity and investigate.
This setup would be good for users, bad for criminals, and better for the state, relative to cash. Of course, challenges remain. My goal, at this point, is to encourage exploration.
She talked a fair bit about how this new digital currency would be “semi-anonymous”, which is an oxymoron. As you can see in the above excerpt, it would be nothing of the sort.
But still, she was enthusiastic about the prospects for moving from the payment systems we have today into more efficient, faster and cheaper ones. Powered by cryptocurrency.
She sees the central bank as taking over the back end of financial transactions and private companies running front of house:
Putting it another way: the central bank focuses on its comparative advantage—back-end settlement—and financial institutions and start-ups are free to focus on what they do best—client interface and innovation. This is public-private partnership at its best.
So, it’s clear that the IMF doesn’t really “get” why people like bitcoin so much – it’s not the convenience it’s the control. Or rather, the lack of control financial institutions have over it.
But, what’s also clear is that these financial institutions are warming to the idea of cryptocurrencies – even if the Guardian isn’t.
Until next time,
Editor, Exponential Investor