The usefulness of idiots.

I do more than my fair sharei of idiot-bashing on these pages, always looking for humour while milking the lolcows and bathing the unbathed. While it may appear that my tone is typically along the lines of “boohoo they’re ruining everything but just wait until Bitcoin,” by no stretch of the imagination do I want to live in a world devoid of such simpletons, even if I do want to live in a world where it’s harder for them to breath. But even under the current regime of voter-demanded forms for registering your typewriter and licensing your pet cat, there’s usefulness to be found… if you just look hard enough.

The most obvious use, and the one I most frequently explore, is the use of las idiotas as fodder for punishing half-baked ‘thinking’ and pretenders with ‘ideas’ by making an example from which others might learn. This is the education component that only idiots can provide and that I seem to be so unusually adept at translating ; for your benefit as much as my catharsis. Non-WoT Bitcoin ‘shartups‘ are exceptionally practical in this endeavour and the value of their scorched corpses is at least equal to the value of the VC dollars they burned.ii

Idiots are beneficial in other ways too. Not only are they like the kid who ignored the warnings, walked on thin ice and crashed right through into the frigid waters below, they also provide a darkness against which to contrast the light. For a competition among a lightbulbs to see who can emit the most lumens is infinitely more challenging for the participants than a competition between a lightbulb and an old growth forest in the dead of winter.

For an example of this, look no further than Tiger Woods, who was dominant if not peerless when he was the only professional golfer to also be a professional athlete. But then he inadvertently kickstarted an entire generation of health-conscious swingersiii that nipped at his heels until they caught and surpassed him, to the point where he’s now barely an also-ran. In Bitcoin terms, this’d be like a debate between two #bitcoin-assets regulars on the one hand and an assets regular with a redditard on the other hand. If the entire world were full of people as intelligent and capable as those in #b-a, La Serenissima would be a drop in the ocean instead of the last bastion of civility it is.

This is true not only in political and social domains, but, if I may be so bold as to platonically cleave them for the purposes of this discussion, in financial ones as well. As Buffett observed in his 1988 Shareholder Letter :

EMT [Efficient Market Theory] was embraced not only by academics,iv but by many investment professionals and corporate managers as well. Observing correctly that the market was frequently efficient, they went on to conclude incorrectly that it was always efficient. The difference between these propositions is night and day. […]

Yet proponents of the theory have never seemed interested in discordant evidence of this type. True, they don’t talk quite as much about their theory today as they used to. But no one, to my knowledge, has ever said he was wrong, no matter how many thousands of students he has sent forth misinstructed. EMT, moreover, continues to be an integral part of the investment curriculum at major business schools. Apparently, a reluctance to recant, and thereby to demystify the priesthood, is not limited to theologians.

Naturally the disservice done students and gullible investment professionals who have swallowed EMT has been an extraordinary service to us and other followers of Graham. In any sort of a contest – financial, mental, or physical – it’s an enormous advantage to have opponents who have been taught that it’s useless to even try. From a selfish point of view, Grahamites should probably endow chairs to ensure the perpetual teaching of EMT.

See, Buffett wasn’t always as senile as he today. He has a point here ! And one that applies to investing as well as anything else.v From a competitive standpoint, the longer our opponents stick their heads in the sand or their fingers in their ears, the longer we have to build a robust parallel system. Remember, 2/3 of all the bitcoins that will ever be discovered have already been mined. They need us a hell of a lot more than we need them. Besides, when you’re working from deontological causes, what’s the rush ?

So while we’re here and having fun, if the Electronic Frontier Foundation can have hilariously named chair positions for noble causes, why can’t we ?

I hereby propose the founding of the La Serenissima Chair for The Promotion of Fiat Currency and Totalitarian Police States.

___ ___ ___

  1. Ok, I admit that there’s no such thing as ‘fair share’ in praxis, quite contrary to what the lazy statists will tell you, but I didn’t mean it literally, yo ! What I really mean is ‘from each according to his ability to each according to his ability and who gives a shit about needs.’
  2. Though I suppose value can be a bit subjective, mebbe the VC derps disagree.
  3. Golf club swingers, that is, though I suppose Tiger’s filandering has probably inspired some of the extra-marital variety as well.
  4. Incredibly enough, I had a ‘personal finance’ professor who suscribed to the scripture of EMT… and this was in the last 10 years ! To make matters worse, he wasn’t even a full-time prof, protected from inflicting upon the world his many and several delusions, he was a professional ‘investment broker/adviser’ type who managed the wealth of goodness-knows-who and had them pay for the privilege. It should perhaps also come as no surprise that we was a proponent of ‘socially reponsible investing.’ Such teleological ethics, some people.
  5. Growing up, I was fortunate to have found two sports with relatively small competitive pools : golf and badminton ; the former in summer, the latter in winter. Had I focused my athletic energies on hockey or soccer, I would’ve never been successful at the same level and to the same extent. Parents of young children would do well to consider the wisdom here. It doesn’t matter so much matter what month your children were born in, whatever Gladwell says, as much as where you focus your child’s efforts.

6 thoughts on “The usefulness of idiots.

  1. William Dunne says:

    Of course it should be someone who is pushing for the “mainstreamisation” of bitcoin who is relatively high profile, so I think I would be just in nominating the Winklevii conglomerate for the “Totalitarian Police States” chair.

    • Pete D. says:

      The lightningrodishness of the Winklederps is pretty much all used up by this point. John Oliver might be a better nominee. Or mebbe even Obama himself, since he’s pretty much just a YouTube celebrity anyways.

  2. […] with the darkened idiots, we may as well make the most of it […]

  3. […] the tall walls of mine While we’re cleaning the guillotine, let’s shag this useful idiot for all he’s […]

  4. […] again, idiots have their uses, particularly when they so readily serve up their own heads as an example to the entire world. As […]

  5. […] Further Addendum (July 13) : As if reading my mind (or my blog), Matthew Brown popped out of nowhere today and passed along the “Fintech and Blockchain World Expo 2016″ Exhibitor Package. How does USD$ 2`500 for a general admission pass and USD$5`000 for a basic booth strike you ? A bit rich ? Hey, no one said that lolcow was getting cheaper to milk. […]

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