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How Do We Address Experienced and Respected Crypto Skeptics?

2022-06-24

Disruptive technology does what it says on the tin: it disrupts. No matter your industry, it's natural to be protective when something new comes along. Many blockchain fans would be the same if a fresh technology threatened our sector and competed in functionality.

Being protective and defensive doesn't always come from a maligned place. Good-faith actors want to protect their users and community. Central banks, regulators, and financiers, in most cases, want to avoid risk and provide security. So when people ask me how I deal with trusted, respected professionals admonishing crypto, I try to walk a mile in their shoes.

Understanding someone’s view based on their experience and position lets me extract value from their criticisms. There’s no need to ignore them or take everything to heart once you’ve dug a little bit deeper.

Experience Is the Key to Understanding Crypto Criticism

In most skilled fields, influence rarely comes overnight. Academics spend decades researching. Athletes hone their skills over years of grueling training. Even in the technology world, we gain influence in our areas of expertise and practice. This leads us to develop unique skill sets focused on our individual pursuits, directly molding our worldview. Now, while we can cope with some level of adaptation, it won't always be a perfect fit.

For example, to be a world-class tennis player, you train for decades to swing with your shoulders. Now, if you suddenly try playing badminton, you might be unable to adjust your swing using your wrist and forearm.

Let's take the analogy further. The head of a central bank needs a strong background in traditional finance and banking. Their thoughts, methods, and beliefs are heavily influenced by their experience. And rightly so, as this is where hundreds of years of economic study have led us. A central banker needs strong convictions that current banking practices are the correct methods to deal with the economy. 

Predictability and stability are core parts of a central bank's DNA and power. New concepts, like cryptocurrencies, aren't part of the experience. So while they may understand some use cases (Central Bank Digital Currencies spring to mind), the risk associated with changing their approach is too high. Some skepticism is expected and normal.

Your Position Also Leads to Internal Biases

Everyone will have biases based on their position and self-interests. Taxi drivers see no problem with an increase in demand due to an influx of tourists to their city. However, the introduction of driverless cars is likely to turn them into skeptics – regardless of the fact that it’s an incredibly useful technology. People tend to vouch for things they like and bring them success, but show resistance to change when it affects them personally. 

Many in the banking and finance industry see crypto as a threat to their position. International transfers can be made quickly without intermediaries. Users can take out crypto loans instantly so long as they have sufficient collateral. 

Increased crypto uptake can therefore reduce profits in these areas and invoke costs when competing. Their jobs depend on their industry's growth, so they'll typically be skeptical of new challenges. This doesn't mean those highly-experienced, respected critics are detrimental and to be ignored. They are, of course, incredibly valuable due to their wealth of knowledge and experience. However, these circumstances and their positions don't make them experts in innovation.

In the end, we do often see increasing adoption from former skeptics. Whether that is due to an embrace of innovation or a fear of lost profits is, however, a discussion for another time.

How Can We Overcome Our Biases?

A great first step is to begin having conversations like the one we're having now. The world is a delicate system of checks and balances, and acknowledging it goes a long way. 

One group we can take inspiration from is the young. A good friend once told me to "Follow the young people. They're the future." When you see teenagers and young people using a new app or technology, they're usually onto something. Crypto has really been no different. You only need to look at Vitalik's age during the development of Ethereum to see this point in plain sight.

While I don't recommend jumping headfirst into everything your kid suggests, their views are still incredibly valid. Circling back to our original points, we need to consider everyone's expertise and position. Always ask for opinions from a wide range of people before drawing your conclusions.

The Answer? Listen and Understand

I'm not here to point fingers and tell people right from wrong. I’m encouraging a more nuanced view on these topics. There's a reason Binance doesn't fight with regulators: we understand the value in their experience and respect their position in society. So while respected figures rightly have an entitlement to their opinion, we should also look deeper at how that opinion has formed.