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Why Bitcoin Needs Its Critics: A Conversation With Noelle Acheson

Co-hosts Sheila Warren and Michael J. Casey are joined by Noelle Acheson, head of Market Insights at Genesis, take a couple of crypto-critical essays and dissect them, as an effort to listen to the community’s critics and weigh the value of their analysis.

Listen on:

On this episode

You can think of this week’s episode as a nod to what crypto people call the “no coiners,” an effort to listen to the community’s critics and weigh the value of their analysis.

This episode is sponsored by Unique One Network, Mimo and Quantstamp.

To do so, “Money Reimagined” co-hosts Sheila Warren and Michael J. Casey are joined by Noelle Acheson, head of Market Insights at Genesis. (A trading company, Genesis is owned by CoinDesk parent Digital Currency Group.) The trio take a couple of crypto-critical essays and dissect them.

At a time when cryptocurrencies seem to be under attack, especially from government officials, it’s tempting for people in the crypto community to drop into defensive mode, which mostly translates into dismissive mode.

Whether it’s criticisms of bitcoin’s energy usage, complaints about illicit activity through crypto, or people pointing out how many outrights scams are run through this technology, the industry’s response is typically to mock the critic for their ignorance or hypocrisy in ways that can sound to outsiders like whataboutism.

Sure, sometimes it’s warranted, as with Crypto Twitter’s response to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) claim earlier this week that a crypto-based financial system would be run at the “whims of some shadowy, faceless group of super-coders.” Some memes were acutely on point; many others were just downright hilarious.

But often the knee-jerk dismissiveness backfires against the community. It can come across as cult-like, a failure to embrace and learn from criticism and a reluctance to consider the views of others. This is not how you bridge divides and expand adoption.

So, in its own humble attempt to take a more reflective stance, “Money Reimagined” takes a look at two noteworthy criticisms of the crypto space.

One is a thoughtful essay entitled “I, Token: The untold story of the hole in Bitcoin's heart” from Brett Scott, an essayist who explores the intersection of money and society, often with the bent of an anthropologist. The piece argues that bitcoin enthusiasts fail to imbue the cryptocurrency with true meaning because they focus on the “function” of bitcoin (what it does) and not its structure (what it is). Along the way, he makes some compelling points about the difference between “price” and “value.”

The other is a blog post by International Monetary Fund staffers Tobias Adrian and Rhoda Weeks-Brown, in which they argue cryptoassets are not viable for governments to explore as alternatives to state-run currencies.

We hope you enjoy listening.

Image credit: Stanislav Gvozd/iStock/Getty Images Plus, modified by Coindesk

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