It is not a truth for anyone who has been around the digital asset space for some time that almost every project, except the industry’s magnum opus bitcoin, manages to build effective public relations to sell their decentralized project in name only ( DINO). This is no surprise as the tens of billions raised in recent years have had to go somewhere and they certainly haven’t gone to build new innovative technologies.
One area where bitcoin has failed in the PR department, and the focus of this piece, is in the framing of how blocks, colloquially called proof-of-work (PoW) or mining, are validated.
First, how does mining work?
Simply put, bitcoin miners use PoW, which uses energy, to find a needle in a haystack. When they find the needle, they use it to create and add a new block to the Bitcoin blockchain. When this new block is added, the miner is rewarded with freshly minted bitcoins. To date, this is the most decentralized means of gaining network consensus and creating valid blocks. Read more about bitcoin mining here.
Bitcoin Mining and the Framing Effect
In a world where capital is driven by criteria such as ESG (environmental, social and governance) scores, green narratives in adopting new technologies are becoming increasingly important.
Knowing this, the perceived high energy costs of bitcoin mining and the term mining itself, which is associated with environmental destruction, have become a barrier to bitcoin adoption and a red herring used by DINO projects to discredit bitcoin and pump their luggage. .
Relatively speaking, however, the energy consumption of bitcoin mining is quite small and is mostly green. The reason people look beyond these realities is due to a cognitive bias known as the framing effect.
The term extraction comes with many negative connotations (see image below). With other digital assets available promising bitcoin-like solutions with a much smaller environmental footprint, naive users will in many cases choose them over bitcoin due to the framing effect.
People think about this when they hear about mining.
I won’t go into detail in this piece, but the “greener” proof-of-stake (PoS) solution is not a viable alternative and will inevitably lead to centralization. Despite the complexities behind PoW and PoS, it’s no surprise that people choose for superficial reasons, such as naive views on energy.
A psychological theory behind the framing effect is known as prospect theory explains why:
Most people do not understand that the gain of PoW (More energy consumption, but decentralized) is greater than the loss of PoS (Less energy consumption, but centralized). Although it is easy to understand the loss from a purely environmental perspective.
This is exacerbated by the fact that most people today see climate change as a serious social problem and sensationalist pieces like “Bitcoin uses more electricity than many countries. How is that possible?” circulates regularly. This is how the framing effect manifests itself when individuals are shown only the context of one of the frames (the environmental one).
So, what can we do to overcome the framing effect and make people realize that bitcoin mining won’t boil the oceans and is actually good use of energy? We could take a note from the DINO manual and take advantage of the narratives that have less negative connotations associated with them.
How could it be applied to bitcoin mining? Good …
We call bitcoin miners, bitcoin validators
With the merger of Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum moved from mining with PoW to using validators with PoS. Mining and miners as we know them will no longer exist on Ethereum and claims of up to 99.5% reduction in energy consumption have been cited.
These energy savings are a red herring as they come at the expense of decentralization. Decentralization is a fundamental first principle of cryptocurrencies, without it they are useless. The energy consumption of a centralized public cryptocurrency, even if minimal, is 100% wasted as the network has failed. Bitcoiners know this, which is why they will never change the code.
So, let’s go back to the framing effect. The term validators has much more positive connotations towards it due to DINO’s marketing efforts and is not as charged with a term like mining. Less negative connotations mean that people will perceive the term more positively. Avoiding the framing effect by using a more media-friendly term as a validator will make it easier for people to understand that the gain of PoW (More power consumption, but decentralized) is greater than the loss of PoS (Less power consumption, but centralized).
DINO did all the work here by moving the narrative to PoS> PoW. The least we can do is use this effort to our advantage as they have used the bitcoin brand time and time again to justify their Rube Goldberg machine.
Hence, by calling bitcoin miners, bitcoin validators can prevent the framing effect from occurring and shift the narrative towards PoS In summary, rephrasing PoW mining into PoW validation will benefit bitcoin in the long run by preventing the framing effect from occurring, which is a cognitive bias in which people decide options based on whether options are presented with positive connotations or negative. Mining = negative connotations. Validation = positive connotations (thanks Ethereum). This is a guest post from Doc Sharp. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
In summary, rephrasing PoW mining into PoW validation will benefit bitcoin in the long run by preventing the framing effect from occurring, which is a cognitive bias in which people decide options based on whether options are presented with positive connotations or negative.
Mining = negative connotations.
Validation = positive connotations (thanks Ethereum).
This is a guest post from Doc Sharp. The views expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.