e$: Financial Field and Ground, Gullibility and Education (was Re: [gsc] Freedom is the Submission to Authority.)

R.A. Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Wed Oct 24 18:12:45 PDT 2007

Hash: SHA1

So, after thrashing moving boxes in and out of a U-Haul van, and into
Public Storage, and a couple of Red Bulls too many, and before the
Inevitable Double Hawaiian Pizza For Dinner, I see the following on Venkat
and Company's Gold-Silver-Crypto list...

At 9:55 PM +0100 10/24/07, Darren Rhodes wrote:
>JP's arguments have been based on his lack of ability to distinguish
>between _property_ and _title_to_property_.

I get this with internet bearer transactions. The engineers -- okay,
venerable cryptographers, as well, (who will remain nameless) :-) --  can't
figure out how  an "online" transaction (you have to check that a
functionally anonymous blind-signature token has been double spent) can
still keep the asset in question in bearer form. Something, like title to
property, which is actually dependent on the anonymity and acceptability of
the certificate signifying that property's control, and not whether,
"offline", I hand you a glop of bits without anyone in the middle or not.

It's sort of one of those financial "field and ground" problems that a
high-school-educated messenger at DTC, or at least a state-school
baccalaureate margin clerk, can answer without a second's thought. It's who
controls the asset (anybody? nobody? who knows? who cares? the trade clears
without identity; it is thus anonymous, thus in bearer form, QED), not the
data structure (a linked list of m-of-n where m=n hashes) used to
authenticate that asset's transactions with, that determine its ownership.
A list of blinded hashes is pretty much orthogonal to identity, and a list
of transactions linked to an account in which biometric identity had to be
produced in order to transact at all, is, heh, identical to identity.

Something this state-school philosophy baccalaureate former entry-level
"administration clerk" at an investment bank (also to remain nameless) saw
and understood around day three of hanging out on the cypherpunk list, and
is still arguing with Renowned Cryptographers To Remain Nameless about to
this very day. Put it this way, the word "cash" in "digital cash" pretty
much guarantees that the asset must be in bearer form, and any
cryptographic protocol would make any asset using that protocol a heh,
bearer asset, don't say that too fast.

I think it was Nick Szabo (I should check the archives someday) who said,
blind signature protocols are bearer transactions, and I thought, well,
yeah, sure, they have to be, don't they, and then I was off to the races
for a good ten years -- if not still trying, in my, um, now legally
prodigal dotage, to drag the old milk wagon 'round the track in my mind
every morning...

BTW, I would put engineers (and, heh, cryptographers, paradoxically) on
that list we've been compiling of masters of the universe including doctors
and lawyers who are susceptible to scams.

It's like those Duke PhD psychologists, the guys with the funny card deck,
and the "psychics" that scammed them blind in the 1950's. There's one born
every minute. Notice that Uri Geller, the world-famous spoon-bender who in
the end was pantsed and swirlied on the Tonight Show by Johnny Carson
(himself a magician who had a magical "craft" for TV in the same way that I
have a face for radio :-)) in the 1970's, is now doing actual TV magic act
with Whatzizname, the mind-freak guy, with no claims whatsoever of the
"paranormal". It was either Carl Sagan, or Douglas Hofsteader, or The
Amazing Randi, or somebody, who wrote a very interesting article about how
"psychics" would know how to "sniff" using a blindfold as well as the best
mentalist could, and how if you just put something like play-dough, or
something, over their eyes so they couldn't look down their nose past a
blindfold, they would immediately lose their "psychic gift"...

Another example of the gullibility of the overeducated, the private
twin-engined aircraft called the Beach Baron, or some such, nicknamed
"doctor killers", because book-smart surgeons (and dumb-as-rocks scions of
American political "royalty" who seem to pass, as usual, on charisma
instead of little grey cells...) can buy them out of petty cash, pass the
all the exams with, heh, their eyes closed, fly them into a cloud, and
auger them into, say, Long Island sound off of Martha's Vineyard, with
surprising regularity.

I think it has to do with too many of them thinking that the ersatz
"manufactured" experience we now call "education" is actually the real
stuff. We now have two or three generations of the more-or-less
manditorially college-educated, who, to a large extent, are pretty much
manufactured fools, and fools whose manufacture was produced by the lowest
bidder at that. I know, I was one of 'em; probably still am. :-).

The word education, BTW, comes from "e duco" or some such, taken from the
(latin translation?) of one of the Socratic dialogues in which Socrates --
ever the Platonist ;-) -- taught an illiterate slave boy (one imagines
Socrates leering all the while, or at least Plato leering when he wrote
it...) how to compute the area of a triangle, or something. "Socrates" said
that we already know everything, and education was a process of "drawing
out", ("e duco"), the information that is already there... Right.

See? Book-smart, Plato was. Education is experience. Plato says so, right
here in this 2,000-year-old book, so it must be true. One presumes
Socrates, the original self-made genius, might have known better, but we
have to take Plato's word that he didn't...

Which brings me around to something interesting. It seems to me that most
real knowledge is advanced by people, like Socrates himself, who were,
shall we say, orthogonal to the education experience. Benjamin Franklin,
Isaac Newton, Einstein, a famous cryptographer or two, made huge strides in
their respective fields without any specific training in the field itself.
Whit Diffie was not a certified degreed cryptographer when he figured out
what became public key cryptography, but he was sure as hell a
Cryptographer with a capital "C", all right. Not for nothin' is his PhD
from the same outfit that "graduated" Einstein with a PhD for major
contributions to knowledge on the basis of work done, shall we say,
elsewhere. Do not pass go (to class), do not collect $200 (or write a
dissertation), go directly to, okay, not jail, exactly, but certainly the
cells of the Scholastic Experience, so to speak.

Okay. I'm hungry, and the Red Bull's wearing off, or at least hasn't had
its second wind yet...


Version: PGP Desktop 9.0.6 (Build 6060)


R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah at ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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