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"There Will Be Many Things You Did Not Predict": Jordan Peterson Critiques Bitcoin at Bitcoin 2022

The famous public intellectual warned the Bitcoin community about the dangers of predicting the future.

"There Will Be Many Things You Did Not Predict": Jordan Peterson Critiques Bitcoin at Bitcoin 2022
Shutterstock cover by Tony Norkus

Key Takeaways

  • Jordan Peterson offered some mild criticisms of Bitcoin at Bitcoin 2022 this afternoon.
  • Peterson expressed worry that something as revolutionary as Bitcoin would almost necessarily include both positive and negative consequences.
  • Nevertheless, Peterson expressed positive sentiment about decentralization of power and control more generally.

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So far at Bitcoin 2022, Jordan Peterson seems to be the first major voice to offer a challenge to the “unbridled enthusiasm” that permeates the Bitcoin community. Rather than harsh criticism, however, Peterson offered cautious warnings about attempting to predict the future.

Peterson On Bitcoin

The clinical psychologist drew a packed audience to the main stage this afternoon for his fireside chat at Bitcoin 2022 in Miami.

Jordan Peterson started his talk by noting the powerful potential of Bitcoin. However, he also said that if Bitcoin does ultimately prevail in the long-run over all other currencies, replacing existing monetary structures and central banks, then it might have unintended consequences.

Peterson said he worried that changing the basis of currency and the monetary system would come with a whole host of consequences that are difficult to predict now—and that not all of these consequences would be purely good, or even conceivable. After all, he went on, Bitcoin is an experiment, and a not so “humble” one, at that.

Moving the control of the money from the hands of the government and politicians also means that the voters represented in that nation would also, in a sense, lose some control. “We don’t actually know what would happen if the money is decentralized,” he pondered.

He also warned that such a powerful creation as Bitcoin, if it did take primacy, could become irreversible. Peterson wondered out loud whether or not that would be a good thing. Ultimately, the idea that something as impactful as Bitcoin would be purely beneficial did not seem likely, he said. 

Peterson emphasized, though, that he fundamentally favored free markets and minimal centralized authority and control. 

He called free markets an “existential necessity” and further argued that central economic planning was not conducive to a healthy society, pointing to the history of the 20th Century as evidence of the inefficiency of central planning. “Bitcoin, in principle, stops that from happening,” he said.

Peterson recently ventured into Bitcoin and has done podcasts with several prominent Bitcoin evangelists. His reputation grew rapidly in the past few years as a public intellectual, author, and YouTuber, with a background in clinical psychology. He first made major waves in his opposition to Canada’s C-16 in 2016 by arguing that the bill’s language prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity would result in a form of compelled speech.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC and several other cryptocurrencies. Crypto Briefing is a media sponsor of Bitcoin 2022.

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