Dear Barely Sociable, here’s why Adam Back isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto (Video)

Near the end of his “Bitcoin – Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto” video, Barely Sociable has concluded that Adam Back must be Satoshi Nakamoto. The conspiracy theorist pointed out to circumstancial, professional, and behavioural hints that suggest that the British cypherpunk is most likely to have created Bitcoin.

Though in a previous article I’ve tried to dismiss the structure and form of Barely Sociable’s video, I felt like it wasn’t enough. In order to refute such strong claims, one must take each argument and deconstruct it. Because sometimes a flood of half-truths and extrapolated theories can sound credible if it’s packaged nicely, I felt like I needed to make an effort and produce a similar presentation which fills in some gaps in Bitcoin history that the conspiracy theorist has more or less intentionally ignored.

So if during the previous article I’ve taken a shot at demonstrating Barely Sociable’s biases, then in this video I’m tackling his theories in a more structured manner.

To complete this project, I spent about an hour taking notes on exact timestamps and statements, another hour and a half gathering information sources and recording the video (which is one-take), and about 12-14 hours editing the video.

Initially, I hoped that a video presentation would save me time and provide a friendlier way of understanding why Adam Back is most likely not Satoshi Nakamoto, and why Barely Sociable’s depiction of the Bitcoin scaling debate is incomplete and flawed.

After spending almost 20 hours working on this (I could have just written an article in about 6 hours), I just hope that you will find my presentation informative and entertaining. I can’t match Barely Sociable’s level because I don’t do videos professionally and I’m not a native English speaker to deliver the message flawlessly. Yet the content is most of the times more important than the form in which it is presented – and I’ve actually made an extra effort with the editing.

The final result is a one-take recording that I hope will complete Barely Sociable’s presentation of the events. It’s also longer than his presentation, but unscripted (I only took some basic notes, so everything else is improvised) and more detailed from a technical point of view.

Just keep in mind that everything makes much more sense if you watch Barely Sociable’s video first. I hate the fact that I must promote his otherwise shallow analysis, but my work is pretty referential and cites moments from his video before presenting counter-arguments.

My notes on Barely Sociable’s video

12:20 – “Gaslighting Gavin to waste his time while working on a sidechain solution”.

This is wrong, scaling Bitcoin wasn’t just a dichotomy between big blocks (XT) and Blockstream’s Liquid sidechain. At the time, SegWit and the Lightning Network were both being developed and turned out to be preferred by developers and the community.

12:48 – “A vast majority was in favor of increasing the block size”.

This is wrong, the devs favored SegWit over a hard fork and they cast their votes. There were some companies that wanted a hard fork, but it was because it suited their short-term needs and would also give them more control over the network on the long term (they can afford to run a full node in a big block version of Bitcoin).

13:02 – “I lean more towards Gavin having better intentions”. 

You say this, but at 24:09 in your video you acknowledged that Gavin purposely pushes a conman as Satoshi because he happened to have the same views on the block size. How does lying to the community imply best intentions? You’re contradicting yourself within 11 minutes.

24:14 – they revoked Gavin’s access for promoting a fraud who couldn’t sign the genesis block. It’s that simple, the developers didn’t want to deal with all the politics, cypherpunks write code.

24:49 – NDAs are anti-Bitcoin. Developers are always transparent about their work and intentions. 

13:15 – Why is the Reddit censorship relevant in any way?

It’s foolish to assume that censorship didn’t cause a Streisand effect for XT, which made more people check it out. It failed because the users rejected it, as anyone could run the client at the time.

Also, Reddit wasn’t the only platform – there was Bitcoin-talk, there was Twitter, there were lots of IRC channels and groups. Tweets from around the time are cited throughout the video, yet you claim that Reddit was the main hub. 

26:46 – Why the hell would Satoshi cite his own work if he wants to stay anonymous? 

28:10 – False, we only have Hal Finney’s e-mails and a few other odd ones. No e-mails from Szabo or Wei Dai, afaik.

29:57 – Bitcoin was written in C++, Adam Back codes proficiently in C++. So do lots of cypherpunks.

30:08 – Adam Back is the kind of guy who files patents and seems to be proud about his own work. Why would he suddenly give up on his habit?

31:10 – Why would Satoshi edit his own Wikipedia page to dox himself?

31:28 – British grammar and double spacing may just be part of Satoshi’s op-sec.

31:52 – Political message and the London newspaper. One is too common, the other one is part of the op-sec.

32:06 – The Hashcash and Bitcoin pages are basic HTML websites with nothing but basic text to explain how stuff works. The lack of graphics in the early phase proves nothing but more concern with the code than aesthetics. 

32:25 – All cypherpunks looked up to Hal Finney, he coded Phil Zimmermann’s PGP.

32:55 – Well, Satoshi never cashed in his Bitcoin so the idea of moving to Malta because he expected to receive money and wanted to avoid taxes is silly. Also, Wikileaks was a very hot topic in 2010 – it was all over the media and journalists were volunteering to investigate the leaked documents. Everyone was talking about it at the time, unlike today’s situation. 

33:08 – Maybe that Adam Back did mine bitcoins, in spite of his claims. Or maybe he just regarded it as an experiment that should prove itself until 2013, cypherpunks were exchanging ideas quite often. None of this proves that he could have been Satoshi. Other cypherpunks like Zooko have been into Bitcoin since the first month, yet they’re not Satoshi Nakamoto.

33:33 – He raised funds for Blockstream with a team of very competent developers. Also, Adam Back wrote a lot of code and is responsible for Confidential Transactions and other interesting cryptographic inventions. Just because he never wrote a line of code for Bitcoin Core doesn’t mean that he revealed his Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym to his investors. 

34:00 – Joining Bitcoin a day after people figure out how many bitcoins Satoshi Nakamoto owns? How does that make any sense?

34:46 – On April 18th 2019, Adam Back suggested that Satoshi needs Confidential Transactions. He basically suggested that his own invention (which was never implemented in the base layer, but was added to Liquid) can help with transaction privacy so Satoshi can sell part of his stash. Promoting your own work as a solution doesn’t mean that you are the creator of something. Actually, if Adam Back was Satoshi then he would have probably done a better job with privacy.

35:10 – How can you know about a bug from 2010 if you joined the forum 2 days ago? Well, anyone can read Bitcoin Talk threads without signing up. And 2 days are enough to research previous issues of Bitcoin, especially if the event took place only 3 years ago. At the time it was easier to learn the whole history than it is now, almost 12 years since the whitepaper was published.

36:30 – “Other currencies have faces to them”

Well, they’re not Bitcoin and aren’t as ambitious in being so decentralized and censorship-resistance. Known creators are single points of failure.

38:23 – When you say that “the entire community was in favor of increasing the block size”, you merely appeal to businesses like Coinbase, BitPay, and blockchain.info that would directly benefit from a more centralized Bitcoin that they can control. 

38:22 – Increasing the block size destroys censorship resistance, because a dangerous precedent is set and only a few businesses would become able to run a full node. 

Timestamps for my own video

00:00 – Introduction, context, disclaimers

2:50 – Who is Satoshi Nakamoto? Not Adam Back!

3:11 – Adam Back gaslighting Gavin about agreeing to increase the block size while actually plotting to deploy the SiDeChAiN

3:30 – The Bitcoin scaling debate was bigger than block size increase vs sidechain

4:00 – SegWit has been conceptualized in 2012-2013

4:43 – Hard fork vs soft fork

5:33 – The base layer is like a rock

6:25 – Lightning Network

7:05 – Why on-chain scaling is terrible for privacy

8:46 – Barely Sociable only mentioned Bitcoin XT, but selectively forgot about Classic, Unlimited, and SegWit2X

9:16 – Why small blocks are better for scalability, privacy, and cost

10:11 – Bitcoin didn’t even adopt the Liquid sidechain to such a great extent

10:34 – The average user won’t use Liquid anyway

11:48 – A vast majority was in favor of increasing the block size? Who is that majority?

11:58 – The only businesses that wanted to hard fork Bitcoin were the ones that benefited from it by gaining more control over the network

14:36 – Companies that support a more centralized Bitcoin most likely want to be your custodians, since you can no longer run a full node

15:00 – Big blocks destroy the value proposition of Bitcoin

16:00 – In 2017 devs wanted SegWit, not a big block hard fork

20:21 – Gavin was actually the dishonest one and Barely Sociable contradicts himself

23:07 – Gavin making statements under NDAs is against the Bitcoin spirit

23:38 – Charlie Lee signing the Litecoin Genesis block to show how it’s done

24:10 – Why does a video about exposing the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto include a long discussion about r/bitcoin censorship?

25:36 – Censorship of ideas would normally lead to the Streisand effect, especially when dealing with Gavin and Hearn

26:06 – Bitcoin XT did not fail because of Reddit censorship

28:30 – Why would Satoshi Nakamoto cite himself in the whitepaper?!

29:39 – Satoshi e-mails

31:11 – British English and double spaces

32:55 – Adam Back’s early patent filling is not Satoshi-like

34:27 – Adam Back is a great coder who wouldn’t have made mistakes that Satoshi Nakamoto did

34:50 – Why would Adam Back add his interest in digital cryptographic money on his Wikipedia page if he is Satoshi and wants to hide his involvement in the creation of Bitcoin?

35:25 – Adam Back talking about WikiLeaks doesn’t prove that he’s Satoshi

36:47 – If the basic HTML web pages of Hashcash and Bitcoin looked identical, it still means nothing

38:39 – Satoshi looked up to Hal Finney, and so did Adam Back

39:53 – Satoshi Nakamoto wasn’t a genius coder, he’s made lots of mistakes in the first version of Bitcoin

41:08 – 2010 inflation hard fork which resulted in a hard fork

42:00 – Adam back moving to Malta is irrelevant, the weather is actually nice there

43:20 – There are people who got into bitcoin and mined without being Satoshi… as well as people who observed Bitcoin since the early days and have had no direct involvement with mining.

44:40 – You can raise funds as the CEO of Blockstream

48:40 – If Adam Back joins Bitcoin-Talk a day after an article gets published about Satoshi’s BTC wealth, then he’s actually less likely to be Satoshi Nakamoto

49:48 – If Adam Back promotes Confidential Transactions with the argument that Satoshi Nakamoto might need them, it still doesn’t mean that he is Satoshi

50:36 – If Adam Back is Satoshi and he invented 

51:30 – If Adam Back knew a lot about Bitcoin on his second day on Bitcoin-Talk, it still doesn’t mean that he is Satoshi

53:51 – Coins with known leaders can’t ever be compared with Bitcoin

57:45 – Satoshi is best described by his code

58:30 – Why Bitcoin is the best chance that we have, but is not perfect

59:20 – Who is Satoshi Nakamoto today?

1:01:05 – David Chaum, Nick Szabo, and Wei Dai are most likely not Satoshi either

1:02:40 – If Satoshi sold his coins, there is enough market demand to buy them instantly

1:03:40 – Visa 2.0 is pointless, we need decentralization more than scalability 

1:06:00 – Closing notes

1:07:04 – Donate to Bitcoin Takeover

1:07:38 – Bonus: Eric Voskuil explains why Satoshi Nakamoto was not a professional programmer

1:10:29 – Samson Mow explains why Adam Back is not Satoshi on MCF 38

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Maybe one of these days I’ll buy myself a Raspberry Pi and run BTCPay Server on it so I get rid of this custodian. But first I want to invest more in the Bitcoin Takeover website: get reviewed transcripts for all podcast guests, get a better WP theme, and optimize all content. If a conspiracy theorist can get millions of views, then more informative content should get at least a small fraction of that.

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Written by Vlad Costea
I'm here for the freedom, censorship-resistance, and unconfiscatability. What about you?