The following is a postscript to my essay, Szabo is Not Satoshi.
Many readers of my essay Szabo is Not Satoshi took the opportunity to “get me” by pointing out that nobody thinks Nick is Satoshi, that he has denied it outright and that therefore my essay was pointless.
Although I noted in the post that he has indeed denied it, I think it’s totally incorrect, perhaps even disingenuous, to claim that he doesn’t have a disproportionate influence on the credibility of certain narratives in Bitcoin because of the ongoing suspicion that he might be its creator or that he had at the very least a big influence on its origins.
That, and simple historical interest, are why I wrote it.
Now, I believe I’ve discredited that argument sufficiently but I’d like to point out in this essay several examples from real people that better show what I meant when I argued about the importance of the Szabo/Satoshi question. Szabo’s rumored direct or indirect ties to Satoshi have been and currently are being used to promote a specific agenda, right or wrong, and it’s worth being aware of so you’re able to think for yourself instead of outsourcing your thinking to others.
While I don’t want to comment on that agenda in this series of essays because I want them to be of interest to all people interested in Bitcoin, BCH, BTC or cryptocurrency in general, I do find it strange that prominent people in Bitcoin who claim that “Satoshi is not God” or that private key signature is the only thing that matters often so readily cash in on the Szabo/Satoshi myth when it serves their purpose.
We’ll begin first by looking at Bitcoin’s court-jester, Charlie Lee, who argued against Segwit 2X on the grounds that “Nick Szabo is the closest we have to Satoshi, if not Satoshi himself,” and he didn’t support the hard fork:
I noticed this also. In my opinion, Nick Szabo is the closest we have to Satoshi, if not Satoshi himself. With Nick and all of Bitcoin Core devs against Segwit2x, why are people still pushing for this hardfork that will split the chain? https://t.co/5jRvNMaK5n
— Charlie Lee [LTC⚡] (@SatoshiLite) November 8, 2017
Charlie is an influential figure in Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency world. He’s not some fringe, anonymous theorist making wild claims that Szabo is Satoshi. He’s using his platform to push the idea as justification for his position in a very controversial discussion about scaling Bitcoin.
People who argue that my essay was premised on a non-issue are wrong here. When I wrote the following:
Although people rarely say it outright, there’s a subculture in Bitcoin that really wants to believe he is Satoshi because it lends more credibility to their position, despite the fact that he has denied it.
I was not speaking about theoretical people that I can imagine existing but have no evidence for. I was speaking about popular, influential “thought leaders” in Bitcoin cashing in on the Satoshi/Szabo issue. This has real consequences for the development of Bitcoin. If Charlie Lee is willing to push Szabo as evidence for something like Segwit 2x, others will as well.
But whichever side you’re on, you should have to provide actual evidence that Nick is Satoshi in order to argue that his opinion AS Satoshi or AS someone who laid all the foundations for Bitcoin matters.
Another well known figure in Bitcoin, Vijay Boyapati, has argued the latter, as has developer Tuur Demeester and others quoted below:
11/ Satoshi Nakamoto built on the ideas pioneered by Szabo and Back to create the first truly scarce digital good: bitcoins.
Nakamoto’s invention would never have been possible without the reframing of the seemingly simple concept of scarcity.
— Vijay Boyapati (@real_vijay) August 23, 2018
Satoshi said Bitcoin was an implementation of Nick Szabo’s Bitgold concept. Sometimes I wonder if he’d better kept the name. pic.twitter.com/Df5rTFGyjj
— Tuur Demeester (@TuurDemeester) January 22, 2018
Nick Szabo the guy that invented bit gold that satoshi implemented and called bitcoin calls Ver and Jihan jokers. https://t.co/2xS2ehUZb1
— /r/Bitcoin (@RedditBTC) September 20, 2017
Collectivism in English refers to socialism and similar ideas. Satoshi was most likely of the Austrian school of economics, favourin free market capitalism. Nick Szabo invented the Bitcoin (Bitgold) concept and you can read hi views on the philosophy behind Bitcoin.
— 🧐 Bitcoin Gent! 🧐 (@BitcoinGent) September 24, 2018
Though they are not directly claiming that Nick is in fact Satoshi, they’re arguing that Nick basically invented it with BitGold and Satoshi simply put his ideas into practice. They’re doing this to push a particular view of Bitcoin without having to reference what Satoshi himself actually said. In other words, though they don’t actually say it, “Szabo” here is essentially a substitute for “Satoshi.” He’s the “credential” for the “Bitcoin is gold,” “small blocks + Lightning” narrative that has taken over BTC.
Readers will have to refer to my essay on the subject for the full outline of why I think this is incorrect, but suffice it to say here that Wei Dai provides solid evidence against this and Nick Szabo’s own views on scaling Bitcoin clash directly with the well known views Satoshi had on scaling the protocol. There’s simply little reason to think he was involved in Bitcoin directly or that his writings had any important influence on its development.
Unfortunately, I think this evidence will be ignored by the people cited in this essay because it is much easier to stand on the shoulders of an authority figure than on the merit of one’s own arguments. The Szabo/Satoshi myth persists — and quick Twitter and Reddit searches can tell you how popular it is — because it is useful for pushing a particular view of Bitcoin, but I hope this essay has offered some clarity on the question to people in both BTC and BCH.
Szabo’s positions should be evaluated on their own, without reference to his unproven and baseless direct or indirect ties to Satoshi.
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