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Why Barely Sociable’s “Adam Back is Satoshi Nakamoto” video is Bcash propaganda

Before revealing the identity of Satoshi, Barely Sociable spreads bcash propaganda for 25 minutes. Seems legit.

Sometimes the most efficient way to successfully attack your rival is to subject him to the public scrutiny of the masses. Especially if he is a shy and rather reserved middle-aged man who happens to lead the company that’s responsible for making your “big blocks hard fork” wet dream obsolete.

Barely Sociable’s video “Bitcoin – Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto” is nothing but a clever way of introducing a distorted narrative to clueless conspiracy theorists who most likely know nothing about cypherpunk culture or Bitcoin history.

It’s a justification for the technical and market failure of big block hard forks of Bitcoin, which basically implies that all of it happened because Blockstream CEO Adam Back is Satoshi Nakamoto – and therefore he could convince everyone else to support and invest in his sidechain project.

If you haven't watched the video, this is your chance. Everything that you are about to read is a spoiler which deconstructs the "Adam Back is Satoshi Nakamoto" conclusion.

The documentary’s conclusions are silly at best and disregard multiple events and breakthroughs that happened at the time. There is no mention of SegWit, a network upgrade (soft fork) which managed to safely increase the block size of Bitcoin without breaking consensus rules to split the network (hard fork). Likewise, there is no mention of the Lightning Network – a second layer scaling solution which has been conceptualized in 2015 and played a major role in the scaling debate’s outcome.

As a matter of fact, the entire 40-minute video is mostly a collection of arguments which frame Bitcoin’s scaling wars as a dichotomous battle between on-chain scaling through hard forks (XT, Classic, Unlimited) and Blockstream’s sidechain proposal.

The fact that Mr. Barely Sociable spends more time talking about censorship on the r/Bitcoin subreddit and making an apology for Gavin Andresen’s and Mike Hearn’s intentions than actually researching into Adam Back’s work reveals a lot about the video’s true intentions.

After a while, it becomes evident that “Bitcoin – Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto” is a political statement against the Bitcoin project’s development direction – and it just so happens that it echoes the arguments that Roger Ver has presented for years.

By the time documentary viewers have found out the conclusion about Adam Back being the designated Satoshi Nakamoto candidate, they will have already digested 25 minutes of big blocker propaganda. “Gavin Andresen was good, Adam Back and his Blockstream company are the bad guys who hijacked development and changed the narrative”.

And if Barely Sociable has picked the rather unlikely candidate Adam Back to become his Satoshi Nakamoto candidate of choice, this doesn’t make his story fair, accurate, or factual.

It doesn’t even matter if Mr. Back truly is the creator of Bitcoin. One could argue that this is a masterful attack that’s orchestrated to put extra stress and pressure on a cypherpunk who is otherwise known for being reserved, while also diluting Bitcoin’s value proposition by implying a central point of failure.

Who is Barely Sociable?

Barely Sociable has joined YouTube on March 27th 2019, but he hasn’t posted videos until 6 months later. He also runs a second account named Slightly Sociable which hosts a podcast, speaks with an American accent, and has been recognized by the Coin Spice journalist C. Edward Kelso as being a “former SoundCloud rapper”.

This connection is very relevant in the context, as Coin Spice is a pro-bcash website which is known for featuring pro-big block opinions. And if none of Barely Sociable’s 380.000 YouTube subscribers have figured out the identity of the pseudonymous speaker, the SoundCloud account has been deleted before the Satoshi Nakamoto reveal was even published, and a Coin Spice journalist has made a confirmed connection to a music account… then the BCH connection might run deeper.

During the first 2 months, Barely Sociable has posted videos about popular internet mysteries and conspiracy theories – 3 of his 10 early mini-documentaries being about Reddit stories.

But on November 19th 2019, Barely Sociable has posted his most popular video: “Dark Side of The Silk Road“. In it, he makes the first mention of Bitcoin and introduces an essential individual and angle that may link Barely Sociable to Roger Ver: Ross Ulbricht, aka the guy who received a double life sentence for running starting the Silk Road and operating the Dread Pirate Roberts account.

This is important because Roger Ver is known to exchange letters with Ross and is an outspoken supporter of the “Free Ross” cause. Bitcoin.com is even listed as a top donor to the campaign.

While this connection doesn’t imply any kind of early collaboration between Roger Ver and Barely Sociable, it does reveal a common interest. Combine this with the unlikely identification from the Coin Spice article, and we can assume that Barely Sociable is a member of the Bitcoin Cash community.

The Satoshi investigation series started on January 18th 2020 with the video “The Most Elusive Identity on the Internet, Pt. 1“. This debut was pretty reasonable, presented already-known arguments and introduced some facts about cypherpunks and their origins (with an evident focus on Chaum, Finney, and Szabo). Upon watching it, nobody would suspect that Satoshi would later be revealed as Adam Back.

It’s the second part, published on February 7th 2020, which begins to introduce wrongful facts. First of all, Barely Sociable says that Satoshi Nakamoto “premined” his coins – which is technically and semantically untrue because his presumed bitcoins were fairly mined after the launch of the network (and not before it, as the “premine” implies).

Secondly, the narrator argues that altcoins like Ethereum and Litecoin thrived in spite of having well-known creators, so Bitcoin wouldn’t be hurt if Satoshi revealed himself. Which is false, as neither of the projects chosen as examples are as successful and ambitious in their scope as Bitcoin. It’s a fake equivalence that was most likely inserted to normalize the subsequent “reveal”.

In the coming 3 months, Barely Sociable has kept on teasing the reveal on his YouTube page. And on May 11th 2020, he finally published the controversial “Bitcoin – Unmasking Satoshi Nakamoto” – the 40-minute glorification of Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin XT and big blocks, which presents the kind of conclusion that is means to further damage the Bitcoin project and its development.

In hopes that I’d find more information about Barely Sociable, I’ve looked at the Reddit accounts that posted his video. Unfortunately, the accounts don’t reveal much. Albin Nyden posted it in r/btc and r/videos, while r/JelloBrickRoad is responsible for promoting the content in the r/cryptocurrency subreddit. On r/bitcoin, it was a low-karma account named Number1ess that posted the video. I could probably undergo the process for each of his videos and look for patterns and links to the bcash community, but I’ll give Barely Sociable a free pass for now. There is plenty to analyze from his video anyway.

Why reveal Satoshi’s identity now?

It’s really no coincidence that the video got posted the day after the Bitcoin halving and scrutinizes Adam Back’s involvement in the Bitcoin project. After the BTC mining rewards were cut in half, the hashrate has also taken a ~30% plunge. It’s very likely that some miners no longer found their activity profitable due to electricity cost and low ASIC efficiency.

In the Bitcoin network, it takes 2016 blocks (~2 weeks) until the mining difficulty readjusts. So until this event happens, unprofitable miners can choose between running at a loss, shutting down operations, or temporarily migrating to another chain. Therefore, this can be regarded as an opportunity for minority chain BCH.

According to Bitinfocharts, the BTC halving has helped BCH regain the hash security that it has prior to its earlier April 8th halving. The difference is not great (only ~3% of the hash that BTC lost went to BCH), but it truly matters to a minority chain.

The only way to make miners stay on a particular chain is to give them proper incentives. So if more users do transactions and buy amounts of the network’s native cryptocurrency, then more fees are collected by the miners, the coin’s price goes up thanks to the demand, and consequently the miners sell their freshly-mined coins faster and more profitably.

It makes a whole lot of sense to push a campaign against BTC at this time when the difficulty readjustment is a week away, the halving press coverage has reignited interest in Bitcoin, and there are millions of people who have no idea about how the scaling debate of 2014-2017 took place.

Essentially, Barely Sociable’s documentary is conveniently-useful and well-timed. Through a 40-minute video he tells his viewers “Adam Back is Satoshi Nakamoto, but he’s the bad guy of the story because Bitcoin was supposed to scale with big blocks and that’s also Satoshi’s original vision”. And if Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn are the good guys for pushing the XT project, then the “red-pilled” viewers will discover that XT has been merged into Bitcoin Cash.

Ignoring these facts and assuming that Barely Sociable has no idea about the halving and the momentum to onboard clueless newbies is simply foolish. Furthermore, not suspecting him of being a member of the BCH community is likewise naive. He basically echoes the same arguments that Roger Ver has been spouting for years.

Why Adam Back?

For years, Adam Back has been perceived as the enemy of the big block hard fork camp. As the CEO of Blockstream, he raised capital to hire some of the most talented Bitcoin developers to work on projects that preserve the network’s decentralization. Therefore, it can be argued that he helped make big blocks unnecessary and rudimentary in comparison with Blockstream’s more sophisticated scaling solutions.

But as an individual, Adam Back is more inclined to follow the “cypherpunks write code” mantra. Though he attends conferences and joins panel discussions, he doesn’t get into heated debates. He doesn’t talk much about his private life, mostly shows interest for the technical discussions, and is the exact opposite of altcoin CEOs.

This makes him the perfect target for harassment and public scrutiny. The fact that he also has the proper credentials and interest to be a worthy Satoshi Nakamoto candidate is a great bait for politicians and law-makers who may investigate him on the basis of these claims.

Yet a cypherpunk like Satoshi Nakamoto would definitely know better than to put the headline of the local newspaper in the Genesis Block, use British grammar and double spaces to delineate sentences, and mention himself in e-mails and the whitepaper. And these arguments aren’t even compelling enough.

This is what propaganda looks like: a sketchy reveal after more than 25 minutes of spoon-feeding viewers with half-truths and distorted facts.

Yet it all makes more sense when you realize that Roger Ver & co have experimented with the “We’ve got Satoshi Nakamoto on our side” narrative for a while. They legitimized Craig Wright’s status on the basis of Gavin Andresen’s testimony, and agreed to look the other way when counter-evidence started to emerge.

The angle didn’t work out for them. Bcash only looked more centralized in decision-making, scammy, and distant from Bitcoin’s philosophy. Newbies might have been fooled by the scheme, but the miners and major businesses stuck with the real Bitcoin.

And for years, Roger & co have pointed out to the fact that Adam Back has only joined the Bitcoin project after BTC hit the $1000 mark in 2013. The “Roger Ver has been around for a longer time and is the first investor in Bitcoin projects” argument has been an instrumental part of the anti-Blockstream and pro-hard fork propaganda.

But what if the narrative gets reversed to put more burden on Adam Back? Why keep on discrediting him when you can put him in the spotlight so the unwanted attention wears him out? And in the whole process, why not make it look like Bitcoin development does have a single point of failure and is still coordinated by the creator?

These arguments dilute the digital commodity value proposition of Bitcoin and make bcash seem a lot more decentralized in comparison. If enough people buy into this narrative, then Mr. Barely Sociable will definitely make a new video to introduce his viewers to the “real vision” that wasn’t perverted by VC money. And the video might benefit bcash in a more noticeable way.

Bcash’s last resort propaganda

We shouldn’t forget that bcash is a minority chain that failed to secure support from miners, traders, and users. Most people who do use BCH do it for purely ideological reasons – because otherwise they could get the same results with altcoins like Litecoin and Dogecoin, which precede the invention of Bitcoin’s contentious forks. Bcash can’t survive in the absence of proper incentives, so it needs to gain traction by any means necessary.

Trying to expose Blockstream’s CEO to public scrutiny (a phenomenon that happened to Dorian Nakamoto in 2014) may be one final attempt to push the big block narrative.

Barely Sociable is trying to make up a narrative about a perverted Bitcoin creator who surrendered his early principles to VC money and decided to centralize the project by moving transactions to a sidechain that makes him and his investors money. He abandoned his original vision that Bitcoin can scale on-chain, expelled the well-meaning developers, and flooded the space with opinion censorship and corporate greed.

In reality, Liquid mostly serves exchanges and big traders that need more privacy, quicker settlements, and lower fees. Regular users will keep on using the base layer and eventually move microtransactions to the Lightning Network when the fees increase. In the future, many more sidechains will exist to serve different purposes, and Bitcoin remains a decentralized base layer for which anyone can run a node and which serves as the foundation for lots of interesting inventions.

Also, building a fee market is essential for the Bitcoin network’s long-term sustainability and censorship resistance. If miners don’t earn attractive rewards from discovering new blocks, they will have to collect transaction fees to keep the operations profitable. Anyone who thinks that “instant” 0-conf transactions made through SPV wallets that trust the few existing nodes and for which negligible fees are paid is what Bitcoin should look like is delusional or doesn’t get it.

As for Adam Back, he’s done a great job as the CEO of Blockstream. He hired some of the most prolific developers, supported the release of remarkable research and open-source project, and facilitated the creation of tools and workarounds that big blockers would have never conceived. He’s definitely too smart to write the headline of a London newspaper in the genesis block, which confirms his own claims that he is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

I’ve done this research and made these connections so you don’t have to. If you have anything else to add, feel free to contact me on Twitter or via e-mail. And next time someone cites Barely Sociable’s video as evidence for knowing the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, send them this article to put an end to this nonsense.

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

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Faust

    May 15, 2020 at 10:04 PM

    I have no background or experience in the bitcoin world, just got interested in it through Barely Sociables Silk Road video and then the “who is” series dragged me here.

    All I can say is that this article absolutely does not read unbiased either and if Barely Sociable is spreading propaganda- which could be true, I have no idea- he does a lot better job at hiding his biases and intentions than this article does theirs. So I would recommend a rewrite.

    • Vlad Costea

      Vlad Costea

      May 16, 2020 at 1:33 AM

      His video starts with 25 minutes of unnecessary and twisted facts that build a convenient narrative. It’s only after these 25 minutes that he actually gets to the actual “reveal”. You can say that this is a way of building tension and momentum, but in reality it selectively points out some facts while ignoring others. Barely Sociable’s approach is binary: it’s the well-meaning XT developers (Gavin Andresen & Mike Hearn) against the greedy supposed creator who turned against his initial principles. In reality, many community events happened and developers who don’t get mentioned at all (like Peter Wuille and Greg Maxwell) have come up with new scaling solutions to avoid the network split (namely SegWit).

      My approach is clearly more direct than his because I’m honest in my understanding of the events. Therefore, I won’t do the suggested rewrite. You either get it and use my article to discover new facts that Barely Sociable has selectively ignored or you keep on assuming that I’m the bad guy in this story. Unfortunately, I don’t do mysterious videos that are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat – I just write and do it as frankly as I can.

    • Avatar

      btcfacile

      May 16, 2020 at 5:00 PM

      Totally. Some supposed proof are jokes: like there is a supposed link beteween Barely Sociable and BCH because he is a former soundcloud rapper (seriously?!) or because him and Roger talked about Ross. If Vlad is honest, tell the full story to your readers: Roger think ross is innocent and must be free, Barelly think he is guilty and the defense group of Ross is full of liers. See? Like that they don’t sound to be some kind of friends, right? All this article is like that.

      • Vlad Costea

        Vlad Costea

        May 16, 2020 at 5:56 PM

        I respect your right to criticize part of my argument, but that bit doesn’t invalidate to which you’re pointing does not invalidate everything. “All the article” is not like that, it actually explains that important bits of information were purposely left out to create a narrative.

  2. Avatar

    Confused

    May 16, 2020 at 7:31 AM

    If your article is intended as a rebuttal and reveal of biases in Barely Sociable’s documentary/videos, it’s not going to do much. As you pointed out, most people who watched those videos are likely new to Bitcoin and all the history – how else would it be so positively supported if there are major events not being covered and facts being twisted?

    But while you mention these missing facts (SegWit comes up twice, other programmers, the soft-fork vs the hard-fork, etc), you do not explain them. There’s no time or consideration given to this new information, simply that this information exists. If your intention is to reach out to those newbies, then just throwing this at them while declaring it makes the entire video debunked is counterproductive. You need to give some context, some information on why these facts or how these facts change the narrative. What does SegWit do? Why does it matter that it came about? What’s the Lightning network? When and Why and How does it work?

    Right now you’re writing for an audience that already knows these facts and likely agrees with you. That’s not a bad thing, persay, but it does limit the impact of who you’re writing for and why. Is it to fill the same space with the same thoughts, or to help others understand a complex situation better?

    • Vlad Costea

      Vlad Costea

      May 16, 2020 at 2:46 PM

      I agree with you, but there’s only so much I can do in one article. My goal here was to point out that his analysis is flawed and suspiciously similar with Roger Ver’s rhetoric. Anyone curious enough to discover the entire context will find great sources on the internet. Or should I also do a long YouTube documentary? 😂

      • Avatar

        Exciting

        August 2, 2020 at 7:33 AM

        If you feel so empassioned about your point and stop such propaganda, I say, why the heck not. History is written by winners, if the YT video is winning and you do claim that your narrative is the true history of the world, then fight for it. Or if you are too lazy to do so, then at least put a little effort by citing sources nad linking these video explaining your history of Bitcoin. What made BS’ video essay is how accessible it is, while your rebuttal article doesn’t ellocate things well. The association with Bcash just because of the author’s account history is a red herring.

        • Vlad Costea

          Vlad Costea

          August 4, 2020 at 9:20 PM

          Your argument is likewise inconsistent and conveniently ignorant to facts. I’ve deconstructed his arguments and showed how they’re all tiny pieces of speculation that are meant to look like overwhelming evidence when you put them all together, yet you complain about accessibility.

          I’ve cited my sources, he cited his own, feel free to believe whatever you want to.

          Also, the fact that he framed the Bitcoin scaling debate as XT vs Liquid is ignorant, short-sighted, and something only a bcasher would do.

  3. Avatar

    I'm also confused

    August 6, 2020 at 8:36 PM

    I love how this reads more like a conspiracy than anything Barely Sociable has said. You say only a bcasher would be ignorant and short-sighted, but wouldn’t that description fit someone new to bitcoin even more? His channel is about mysteries so it’s only natural that his goal in writing about the history about the scaling debate is related to the damn mystery.

    • Vlad Costea

      Vlad Costea

      August 7, 2020 at 5:12 AM

      His video essay is barely historical. It’s the intellectual equivalent of saying that World War 2 was started by Japan when they bombed Pearl Harbour, and then focusing only on the events that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You may present some facts, but you disregard the bigger picture and context of events.

      What Barely Sociable has done was to frame the Bitcoin scaling debate as a false dichotomy – when in fact it wasn’t all that simple and the events span across almost 4 years. Then he built his conclusions based on statements made at the time. The scope of research is purposely narrow and ultimately misleads and misinforms. If you claim that he is new to Bitcoin (which he is not, you don’t just get recognized by a bunch of BCH journalists), then I have added pieces of context to his work. The fact that we also disagree on his conclusion is only natural.

So, what do you think?

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