It is quickly becoming normal to not question some of the established crypto projects. This is incredibly unhealthy.
While it may not be comfortable to have our favourite investments challenged, if we lose the practice of being critical, demanding excellence from the projects dominating the space, expecting clarity and precision from whitepapers and mission statements; if we fail to call out the inconsistencies or potential oversights of these projects because learning about these things is hard work and can make us feel uncomfortable, then we are doing ourselves and the cryptosphere a giant disservice.
This habit of denying all uncomfortable news or opinion isn’t just reserved for the crypto projects themselves, but even the media outlets, blogs and content aggregators.
An extreme example:
A few weeks ago I found myself scrolling through my Reddit feed, which is now mostly just crypto-related news, memes and opinions. One post caught my attention. Something about cryptocurrency regulations in the US. I clicked on the link.
Immediately my ISP sent a warning indicating that the site I was about to visit was likely malicious and that I should not continue to load the page. The warning specifically alerted me to the presence of malware on the site. I quickly closed the tab and returned to Reddit. Curious, I checked out the user who posted the link. Their entire Reddit post history was one long stream of realistic-sounding headlines and coin speculation posts which ALL linked back to this apparently malicious website. Almost one every hour on most of the major crypto subreddits. There wasn’t a single post that did not include the link.
I then did some further research and discovered that the site was blacklisted by Norton Security services as a malware gateway.
I’m not a cybersecurity expert, but with the abundance of scams, rorts and shady business that have been picking up steam in the last few months I considered myself lucky that my ISP recognised the site as dangerous and allowed me the opportunity to avoid a potential hack. I thought I should warn the community that this user was likely using Reddit to spam opportunities for spreading malware.
I reported the user to Reddit support and to a number of the admins on the major channels. Finally, I decided to make a post on r/CryptoCurrency. I called the user out by name and mentioned that they were spamming links to a malicious site and that people should be careful.
The response was shocking. There were those who upvoted for visibility and said a quick thanks. But there were a surprising number of people who immediately accused me of spreading FUD.
Like, really surprising.
Here I was simply trying to bring people’s attention to a threat to their online security, people who are likely trading in cryptocurrencies themselves, and apparently, I am a FUD spreader!?
I even got private messages from people accusing me of spreading FUD for Reddit Karma or financial incentive. How that is even possible, I have no idea. One person even threatened me saying “You should really watch your back from now on.”
A less absurd, though equally worrying example:
I recently published an opinion piece about Power Ledger. I was clear from the start that I did not consider myself an expert in crypto or energy markets and I was looking to learn, but I had some pretty prescient questions concerning their vision and model (questions I must admit, that remain largely unanswered). You can read the article here.
Again, because I wasn’t singing praise but instead demanding excellence and explanation, I immediately was accused of spreading FUD. I was accused of being affiliated with competing brands, of being ‘jealous’ I did not buy in at the right time. But mostly I was just too stupid to understand the product so I resorted to spreading FUD.
This was all insane to me.
We need to be clear about what FUD is. Decryptionary defines it as “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. FUD is any information that is supposed to create feelings of fear, uncertainty, doubt and other negative emotions.”
With this definition, a warning about malware, or a critical opinion piece about your favourite coin might induce some feelings of FUD. You might become fearful of Reddit, or uncertain and doubtful about a product you have already invested in.
However, before crypto, before online forums, as far back as the 1920’s FUD referred to an intentionaldisinformation strategy.
The difference is in the intentionality.
Somewhere along the way, in this haste to drive Lambos on the Moon, we dropped the significance of the intention behind the information we consume. We just believe that if something makes us feel good, it’s true. If it makes us feel bad, it has to be false. If someone doesn’t buy into the hype of our favourite coin, they are an idiot.
In the study of logic, something is necessarily true if and only if it cannot be otherwise.
So, we need to make something clear. If your reaction to some news or an opinion is either fear, uncertainty, or doubt, that does not mean that the news or opinion is necessarily false. Similarly, it does not mean that that information is intended disinformation strategy designed to make you fearful. Of course, sometimes this may be the case and we do need to apply some critical thought, but it is incredibly unhealthy to assume that every time you feel fear, uncertainty, or doubt creeping in, the stimulus you are engaging with MUST be false by definition and intended to deceive. FUD is in the eye of the beholder.
The tendency to treat uncomfortable information has a name in psychology, it’s called confirmation bias. It is the tendency to interpret all information that comes to us in a way that simply reaffirms our pre-existing beliefs. If something can be understood as confirming what we already believe to be the case, it is welcome news. If something is a little more ambiguous, we can bend and stretch it to make it positive and thus confirm our biases. If something is just too strongly contrasting what we already believe to be true then it simply discarded as false.
Ask yourself, ‘could what I am reading be true, even some-what true? What reasons do I think it is/isn’t? Is this worth further investigation?
This is a space in which being informed and educated is unquestionably the best way we can prepare ourselves to make better decisions. Some people out there are simply asking genuine questions — questions that need to be asked — and they are immediately shut down and cast aside as ‘FUDsters.’ We are all at different levels in terms of our knowledge and experience of the cryptosphere. Some people need the basics answered without being slammed. Some people will think that the answers they are being given to the basic questions are still not convincing enough. Some people will find faults, concerns or possible future problems with our favourite coins.
The stupidest thing we can do is not listen to these people or shun them as ‘FUDsters.’ If on the odd chance they are ill-intentioned and just trying to panic the market, if we have taken the time to become educated and apply a little critical thought, what they are spouting is nothing to panic about. But if they are legitimately pointing out a potential problem or concern, burying our heads in the sand benefits nobody, especially not us!
Learning to deal with information that causes a FUD reaction within us is important.You can read our 14 Stages of Emotions When Trading for some tips.