Changing your mind is usually a wonderful thing. If we never did it, we’d never learn.
The following five public figures changed their minds in a big way about the world’s first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
1. Brian Kelly, CNBC contributor and currency investment advisor
In 2013, investing correspondent Brian Kelly said on CNBC’s Fast Money that he was trying to buy bitcoins on Mt. Gox in order to cash in on the “tulip mania.”
A year later, Kelly has shifted his views. He even made a video about how cryptcurrencies are created by making one himself:
“I created my own bitcoin-like currency, Nautiluscoin, as an experiment. I wanted to learn about the technology and create awareness about digital currencies.”
He’s just published a book called The Bitcoin Big Bang (selling for Bitcoin, of course) and recently said,
“Bitcoin is the most important innovation in the history of money.”
2. Mark T. Williams (a.k.a. Professor Bitcorn), finance teacher at Boston University
Dubbed “Professor Bitcorn” in 2013 after he predicted that Bitcoin would trade for less than US$10 by June 2014, Mark Williams had much more to say about cryptocurrency than just dire price predictions.
He said that Bitcoin was “smoke and mirrors,” and that:
“To assume currency can be computer generated, run in a decentralized manner and outside of the central banking system and controls is farcical and economically dangerous.”
After being proven wrong (the Bitcoin price in June was well, well above US$10), Williams was surreptitiously quoted in a Wall Street Journal piece as conceding,
“The probability of success is low, but if it does hit, the reward will be very large.”
3. Peter Schiff, CEO at Euro Pacific Capital
In 2013, investing legend and sound money advocate Peter Schiff also said that bitcoins were reminiscent of tulip mania, and that he didn’t foresee them ever becoming a “source of commerce.”
Then in May 2014, his precious metals company began accepting bitcoins for payment. When he was called out about the sudden change of heart on CNBC, he said,
"I certainly want people who own bitcoins to buy precious metals.”
4. Don Tapscott, author, founder of The Tapscott Group
The tech culture analyst Don Tapscott never publically denounced Bitcoin. He did so privately; and recently confessed to such in a room of students in Toronto:
“I used to think [Bitcoin] would never fly. Now I think it’s not only going to fly as a currency, but the underlying blockchain technology will be part—a core part—of the next generation of the Internet.
It’s going to radically transform not just commerce. . . but many of our institutions in society.”
5. Joe Weisenthal, former executive editor of Business Insider
Joe Weisenthal recently left his post at Business Insider, where in a 2013 article he titled “Bitcoin is a Joke,” he said that there was no future for Bitcoin because it doesn’t have the “intrinsic value” of the U.S. dollar. He argued that Bitcoin was hopeless because it had no aggressive military to make others use it. Yup, he really wrote that.
And then Weisenthal, too, changed his tune in a later post entitled “I’m Changing My Mind about Bitcoin,” saying:
“It's wrong to say that Bitcoin has no value. There's prima facie evidence that this is untrue.”
And finally, there’s an entire organization that deserves an honorable mention. The Mises Institute, whose tagline is “Austrian Economics, Freedom, and Peace,” is home to many scholars, some of whom were once sure that gold and silver were the only kind of sound money that could ever exist.
But then in 2013, the Mises Institute posted a QR code on its website and began gladly accepting Bitcoin as donations. Young scholars of the Mises Institute now write regularly about how cryptocurrency fulfills all the standards of sound money: homogeneity, divisibility, non-counterfeit-ability, scarcity, portability, and durability.
One Thing in Common
Most of the people on this list made one common thinking error in their original judgment of Bitcoin: they believed that value is assigned by a third party, as opposed to originating in the mind of the individual.
And each of them came to realize that Bitcoin has value not because an “authority” declares that it does—fiat—but simply because people are willing to trade goods and services for it. And that, after all, is the simple definition of money.
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