When Taleb Swan Dives

Nassim Taleb, a long time critic of bitcoin, is drafting a paper on (against) cryptocurrencies. I was excited to read what a well-reasoned argument may be against crypto, but I was sorely disappointed.


I have nothing against the guy, and I am very far from an anything-maximalist. In fact, his books Black Swan and Antifragile lend him a instant halo of legitimacy. But while reading his (draft) paper, I was surprised by how it is infused with hubris and hyperbole, veiled with aggression, and punctuated by distracting inaccuracies.

Eg 1: “if we expect that… the value will be zero when miners are extinct, the tech becomes obsolete… then the value must be zero now.”

Eg 2: “We cannot expect a book entry on a ledger that requires active maintenance by interested and incentivized people to keep its physical presence, a condition for monetary value” (I’m not sure I understand the point here… maybe that’s my problem🤷)

Eg 3: “Transactions in bitcoin are considerably more expensive than wire transfers…. or ones in other cryptocurrencies, and orders of magnitudes slower than standard commercial systems… wait ten minutes [to pay for coffee].”


Reading his paper reminded me of this from one of my favorite writers, Morgan Housel at Collaborative Fund:

“Older generations also find it hard to distinguish technological progress from moral decline. The telephone killed the art of letter writing; email killed phone conversations; Slack killed face-to-face meetings, and so on. The traditionalists respond with rebellion. It can take a generation for a great new technology to reach its potential because it takes that long for the older holdout generation to move along.” (Source: What Always Changes)

Link to draft paper: Taleb’s website.



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I do business things and nerd things. Also crypto things. Twitter: @88crypt