October 3, 2021•666 words
I wrote a post last week about a concept of freedom which I later deleted. It was too obvious, direct, basic, simple, and I felt dirty afterwards. I like participating in current political trends sometimes with friends, but definitely try to avoid it on the internet. A friend once told me that if you find yourself arguing the same national talking points as everyone else, you’re too plugged in. Someone living their own life in their own world would hardly have any clue what the current trendy debates are. So I’ll aspire to this for myself.
Nonetheless, it’s impossible to shut out current events in recent months and years because it’s no longer abstract the way current events used to be. It used to be that what you saw on the news was far removed from what would actually play out in your life. Today, that gap appears to have all but disappeared. The more it gets closer to me, my home, and my family, the more incited I become to lash out and say something, and just be another annoying voice in the sea of endless internet voices. I’ll try my hands at another approach here that will hopefully make me feel not so dirty afterwards.
In cryptocurrency, there are largely two types of wallet software: there are wallets that download the entire blockchain to your computer (many, many gigabytes), and verify the integrity of every transaction manually and ensure the blockchain is, well, the chain it’s purported to be. Let’s call this a trustless wallet. And there is another type of wallet software that connects to a central third-party that has already downloaded the entire blockchain on their server, and instead conveys to you, “listen, I’ve downloaded this whole blockchain so you don’t have to, and trust me, everything looks good. Here’s your balance.” Let’s call this a trust-me wallet.
Now, if you want to be a fundamentalist and act in the crypto network the way the gods intended—fully trustless and decentralized—you would download a trustless wallet and thus wait like three days for the entire blockchain to be downloaded onto your computer. But after that initial cost, you now run on the network the way it was intended—not trusting anyone but the source of truth itself: the chain.
If you don’t have the time or space for that, and instead want a convenient solution in which you are ok delegating trust to another central, third-party source (which happens to be most people), then you’re likely to end up using a trust-me wallet. This is fine and functional, but is not the “true” use of cryptocurrency, and if 100% of people used a trust-me wallet, cryptocurrency would cease to exist.
The beauty of science, as with the beauty of cryptocurrency, is that it was designed to be trustless and completely decentralized. Nothing “counts” as science unless it’s confirmed (replicated) by all the nodes, just like a transaction in the cryptosphere doesn’t count unless it's mass-confirmed.
In today’s politicized science environment, most casual people run trust-me science clients which regurgitate science emanating from a central source. This is fine, so long as not 100% of people are running this software. You need unreasonable fundamentalists who play the game the way it was meant to be played: lacking central authority (decentralized) and replicable. Science at today’s scale is largely impossible to replicate by individual nodes like you or me. So in most cases we’re forced to pick a central authority and take their word for it.
This isn’t to say science emanating from a central authority cannot be true. It’s only to say that science emanating from a central authority is centralized, third-party science. That there exist fundamentalists in the cryptocurrency ecosystem who say, I reject all trust-me clients and want to run my own node to ensure the long-term integrity of the system, as unreasonable as it may be, is how the integrity of the system is preserved. Without them, these systems could not exist.