Friday, January 10, 2014

Bad Argument: Neglect to Mention, Revisited (How Crooks are Riding the Coattails of Bitcoin to scam people)

Do you ever hear something, accepted as "yeah, that's cool", only to realize later that you've been hoaxed or been told only half or less of the story? If so, you've been victim of "neglect to mention" bad argument.

The problem is with the modern tech devices such as smart phones and tablets, we often do "like" or "retweet" or "repost" without doing any fact-checking. I admit I sometimes do stuff like that, but I generally do it to cute-sy stuff like cute animals, funny pictures, and so on. I don't form opinions about something important, like money, based solely on one-sided info... Or I try to. And I've been hoaxed recently when I reposted that story about that alleged ex-marine waitress who got no tip because she claimed the family took her for a lesbian.  I didn't look carefully and later when it was revealed to be a hoax, I was embarrassed.

I vowed to fact-check stuff I repost or share or comment from now on. But apparently some people don't, as they've been influenced by half (or less) of the story.

Recently some celebrity / news / Bitcoin worshipper made the following comment in response to my opinion/rant about Bitcoin is too risky.
Forgive me K Chang. But Bitcoin has already been around since 2009 (5years). Even Sir Richard Branson And Lamborghini is taking Bitcoin payments.
Neither you or I have a crystal ball. But I would rather listen to Billionaires like Sir Richard Branson that have vision, rather than an opinion shot from the hip :-)
Nothing wrong with Lambourghini or Sir Richard Branson accepting Bitcoins... Except neither are true, or at least, not completely true.

Q: Is Sir Richard Branson accepting Bitcoins?

A: Sort of. Virgin Galactic, the $250000 USD spaceflight takes Bitcoin


Analysis: Well, that's not so impressive now, is it? Can you buy a Virgin Atlantic ticket with Bitcoin? Apparently not! I guess if you're a billionaire you don't care if you accept some Bitcoins and they become worthless... And the PR value alone (getting mentioned in every newspaper in the world) is worth it.

Q: Is Lambourghini accepting Bitcoins?

A: No. One Lambo dealer in Long Beach claimed to accepted Bitcoins for a brand new Tesla Model S. However, later they admitted they asked the payer to convert it into dollars first.


Again, the dealer is relying on the PR value, getting mentioned in every newspaper in the world (or at least the US) is worth it. Besides, they even made the guy convert the payment into dollars first. They will lose nothing. It's a publicity stunt, nothing more.

Later the commenter did a shifting goalpost, and claimed that it was all Lambo dealers in UK that's accepting Bitcoins, but further research got NOTHING, and the comment has produced no proof. Heh...

The commenter has made a fundamental mistake of not doing his/her own fact-checking, and fallen for the "sensational headline" soundbites, and then applied that mistaken impression as evidence to support a premise, that Bitcoin is NOT as risky as I claim it is.

I have a feeling that the commenter was sincere, but then s/he is a victim of "neglect to mention"... in that whoever told him/her about future of Bitcoin used those bits of info, and neglect to mention the not so sensational / impression bits.

But my point of that comment is actually not to point out how volatile Bitcoin value is, but instead, to point out how scammers and crooks are using the semi-familiarity of Bitcoin to aid their scam efforts, much like crooks back around 1898, used the Spanish American war to perpetuate their scam.

Scammers back then use the newspaper coverage of the war (which is obviously not as detailed as anyone would like) and spun that into their scam, with letters from 'soldiers' that claimed to have found treasures and needs help to get it back home, or some such.  The backgrounds will be incorporated into the letter, but the rest will be pure fiction.

Those letters were later copied by the Nigerians, resulting into the modern "Nigerian Prince" scam.

They use the semi-familiarity of their audience to make them stop checking for facts, and accept the rest of the story (i.e. the fraudulent parts) as true. And REPEAT IT to bazillion more people.

And that is how "they" got the commenter fooled... Newspaper headlines say it's true... Thought Stop.

Don't stop thinking. It makes you stupid.

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