It is not big news. I am advocating for crypto diversity (I am involved with Beam a new crypto coin that is based on Mimblewimble) and find it funny to assist in this oftentimes, very verbal battle between Bitcoin Maximalists and Post Maximalists.
But lately, I did see the level of debates going very low between both parties. And when my two good virtual and talented friends, Giacomo Zucco and Ferdous Bhai, call each other names on Twitter, I asked myself the following question: which philosopher could help to rebuild a rational debate? And here he is. I give you Karl Popper.
About Karl Popper and his Uncertainty
Well, Popper had an extraordinary life, I mean a paradoxical one. In the private field, I really don’t know and don’t care. However, in a scientific manner, his vision led him and thus me to a certainty, that is, uncertainty.
At the commencement stage of new quarrels between the Ancients and the Moderns in the cryptospace, meaning between the Maximalists and the Post-Maximalists, let me introduce you to the scientific untruth which leads us to humility and rhetorical questioning:
Is it complicated, painful, or silly to be sure of nothing, to have no substantial grounds to stand on? Well, no. Karl Popper’s approach leads us to this postulate when it comes to epistemology. And by epistemology I mean the examination of the truth in science.
Before Popper’s time, we all thought a scientific theory was true, for the theory is perpetually “verified.” For instance, we can consider some white swans without being absolutely certain of observing a black swan. This example is not chosen randomly, since indeed for a long time we believed all swans were white until we came across a black one.
This idea is profoundly evolutionary in the philosophy of science.
Popper became the “bête noire” of the positivist science which, since David Hume, since the eighteenth century, took it for granted an exact science when this one was a verified science. This approach led scientists to talk for years about the Ether for example (not talking about the cryptocurrency here), this substance was supposed to fill the space and thus the void.
Too many assumptions were formulated on the ether, and were all verified since the paradigm of emptiness was unthinkable — but precisely “verification n’est pas raison” and it was necessary to accept later: the ether did not exist.
Popper has consequently replaced this reassuring vision of science — it is true every time, so it is true — by a concept infinitely more disrupting that could be paraphrased as follows: it is not invalidated, so it is not false, or it is temporarily true. This is Popper’s criterion of refutability, in other words, the freedom of refuting or not a scientific narrative, to question its empirical truth.
Yes, you must be free to refute a scientific fact to turn the statement into science according to Karl Popper. In another word, to be “science,” it must be refutable and even uncertain. Certitude is the enemy of science. Quite a bomb, no? Popper as the father of the agnosticism in the science? Well, not exactly. Let’s review another example.
Freud vs. Einstein according to Popper
My Dad will be thrilled to read the following lines (he’s a Freudian shrink). Psychoanalysis? According to Popper, this “science” is irrefutable. Freud’s theories are impossible to verify. Why? Freud based his vision, his approach on a specific conception of the human psyche, of the unconscious. And these elements are absolutely impossible to verify. I mean, if we are Freudian everything is well, but if we are Lacanian, Freud’s approach will show some significant resistance. But, one thing is sure (sorry Karl), according to Popper this type of approach was not provable, thus no scientific.
On the other hand, Popper held Albert Einstein and his theory of general relativity as the very incarnation of the science. Einstein had called all his peers to try to invalidate his remarks. He considered that his conclusions could be held valid if and only if nobody succeeded in denying them. Einstein lived without the help of absolute truth.
Uncertainty in the cryptospace
Now, what the heck with the cryptospace? Well, this is an easy one. We assist in a real quarrel since a couple of years and more frequently between the Pros Only-Bitcoin and the Pros-Crypto-Diversity. In another word, a real war is happening under our eyes between Bitcoin Maximalists and Post-Maximalists. The first category is made of crypto pioneers and late jumpers who believe in Bitcoin and in Bitcoin only. For them, “hors du Bitcoin, point de salut”. For the others, Bitcoin is the holy canon but due to some limits regarding usability, scalability and yes, let’s say it, concerning privacy, there’s a need and space for altcoins. And by the way, Beam is one of them.
If you are an active observer on Twitter or on Reddit, you witness this old-as-the-world-itself battle, between the Ancients and the Moderns.
Popper could help here to play the game for his vision can help both Maximalists and Post-ones to check their scientific truth by offering their respective peers to scientifically deny it. Then and only then, the cryptospace would be able to move on, far from insults, far from fake news. As a result, it can demonstrate to the world that this ecosystem is not only a bubble but a real agora where scientific statements are debated and refuted on a daily basis.
 In French, a person or thing that one particularly dislikes.
 In French, verified doesn’t mean it’s true.
 In French, besides Bitcoin, there’s nothing.
Special thanks for Moriah Khalili for the proofread.