In principle, you can use Bitcoin to pay for things electronically. But you can use debit cards, PayPal, Venmo, etc. to do that, too — and Bitcoin turns out to be a clunky, slow, costly means of payment. In fact, even Bitcoin conferences sometimes refuse to accept Bitcoins from attendees. There’s really no reason to use Bitcoin in transactions — unless you don’t want anyone to see either what you’re buying or what you’re selling, which is why much actual Bitcoin use seems to involve drugs, sex and other black-market goods.
—Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize Winning Economist and New York Times Columnist, NYT January 29, 2018
I don’t know why anyone would want to go back to fiat when crypto is distributed, secure and global, while fiat is subject to the whims of political forces…I believe that Bitcoin and crypto will drive most of the commerce of the world.
—Tim Draper, Silicon Valley venture capitalist and founder of Draper Associates, Forbes Magazine, February 28, 2018
Two Experts, Three Opinions
So, above we have two experts, one a Nobel Prize winning economist, the other an internet pioneer who was an early investor in Skype, and they have two completely opposing views on Bitcoin in general and cryptocurrency in particular. Who should we believe? Both have stupendous c.v.’s, and each has well thought out, factually supported and highly plausible reasons for his position. No wonder Bitcoin is so controversial! Even the people who we quite rightly expect would know the most appear to inhabit completely different realities.
And while Bitcoin, as such a hot topic, is a good illustrative example, there are hundreds of issues large and small on which experts disagree all the time. Breast or bottle feeding? Cloth or plastic diapers? Android or iOS? Precious metals or paper securities? Even the most educated and sophisticated decision makers wrestle with this expert problem all the time. What are we to make of all this? And how can we best use experts to help us make informed decisions.
But We Lawyers Have an Edge
And it’s one of the most valuable features of our law degree, especially in monetary terms. You and I have been trained, from the ground up, to parse opposing expert opinions. We started doing it as 1L’s parsing the Finder’s cases and Erie. In practice, we used experts both to help inform us on the subjects of our litigation, and to support our arguments.
In every major litigation I’ve done, I’ve employed one or more experts to support my position; and for every expert I had, my adversaries had an equally qualified expert to support the opposite position. My job as an attorney was to fully understand the nuances of the issue, know both opinions cold, and be able to get a judge or jury to believe that my expert was the best. Put another way, I had to become an expert on experts. And so have you.
Experts on Experts
We lawyers have developed keen critical thinking powers in dealing with all of these experts. While professionals in many fields are good critical thinkers to some degree, there are very few who have had to digest such complex competing opinions on such a wide range of subjects. As lawyers, we are experts on experts. We not only consult experts to inform and support our decisions—we evaluate those experts using an incredible amount of subject matter knowledge, and we pick that knowledge up on the fly. And this translates over into our personal lives whenever we have to make a major decision such as buying a car or choosing a medical procedure.
A Most Valuable Skill
Being experts on experts sets us apart from non-lawyers, so while our degrees certainly don’t guarantee us employment in the legal profession, they do give us a critical real world skill. Law school is a very expensive way to develop that skill, but I don’t know of a better one. It’s just one way in which, for all of its problems, our law degrees were money well spent.
Are you an Expert on Experts?
I’d like to know what you think about this. Do you consider yourself an expert on experts. How have you used your skills at evaluating expertise in your personal and professional life? Please share in the comments.