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Beyond Belief: Unveiling the Cult of Bitcoin Maximalism and Litecoin's Logic

The only thing worse than a Ponzi is a cult.

Thirty-nine tech-savvy followers lay dead, their faces covered in purple shrouds, their feet clad in matching black tennis shoes. Their source of income had been using their programming skills to make websites. They were, like so many of us, highly educated and computer-literate individuals, deeply suspicious of commonly held narratives. How could they fall prey to such a Ponzi of death? Lately, tones of cult-like religiosity have been seeping into the crypto-sphere, particularly among bitcoin maximalists. Phrases like "there can only be one" talk of its "immaculate conception," and disturbingly, the recent "bitcoin is god" from one of its most prominent advocates should create alarm bells for any free-thinking individualist or person of faith. All the signs are there of something extremely dangerous brewing beneath the surface.

But that could never be you, could it? Would it surprise you to know that people who join cults are generally shown to be younger, have higher educations, make more money, and are often without a current spiritual identity? The craving for a better life and knowledge beyond your peers is a powerful impulse. That sounds like many people in this asset class, fertile grounds to foster such a mindset, if not an actual organization.

People who are inquisitive and not opposed to new and cutting-edge ideas are the most likely to be drawn into cultish thinking. Such people crave the security of a like-minded group, making them more susceptible to the sales tactics of a charismatic leader who has structured something that will absolutely not be presented as a cult. If anything, its adherents will sacrifice their futures to demonstrate their sincerity and that they were not the next Jamestown while at the same time proving it to be true.

It's easy to think of cult members as being so alien that you can't imagine yourself in their sneakers, but records show that the members of Heaven's Gate visited Las Vegas and spent time at theme parks. They went on trips along the California and Oregon coasts, and after making their "goodbye" videos, they even went out for pizza and to the movies. In their fridge, they found seven quarts of Java Chip ice cream—and yes, they loved technology just as much as you do. When not creating websites and posting regularly online, they were apparently Star Wars fans from the hats they found.

Individuals who join cults are looking for a better life and a sense of community. Even the use of the term "fam" (short for "family") in crypto, though innocuous on its own, can be used to manipulate those who feel alienated or lack a community or family of their own. Even more of a concern is the enthusiasm many maximalists have for unquestioned monolithic thinking. Well-thought-out counter-arguments are dismissed with a shortlist of one-liners that are used long after their expiration date. Repetition is one of the major signs of a cult.

The names of charismatic leaders in the cryptoverse creating a cult of personality jump too readily to mind and with a far greater frequency than in other asset classes. The new cultists want to make their digital currency a religion, obviously for money and power, but with the added benefit of ensuring that its adherents act irrationally. The only thing better than "diamond hands" is someone with a religious conviction never to sell, despite the financial effect it might have on their family. A cult encourages its followers not to examine substantial alternative viewpoints. Educated individuals tend to weigh and consider new information, but that would threaten the "bags" of the maximalist cult leader. The penultimate warning bell, however, is that we have seen more lasting criticism for leaders like Charlie Lee, who pursued decentralization and divestment of power, than those who pursued self-aggrandizement.

The bitcoin/Litecoin debate is the perfect example as Litecoin has superior fundamentals in many areas (no downtime, lower transaction fees, faster speed, better cost proposition, etc.), and yet some bitcoin maximalists would rather die than hear educated counter-arguments for why they should both be equally valued. That is the essence of cultish thinking. While it will enrich the new faith's high priests financially and emotionally, what of its followers? The only thing better than money is control, as money itself is a primary tool for that pursuit. Making bitcoin into a pseudo-cult gives those at the top the acceptance that they have long craved, especially if they have struggled to gain acceptance and success in more traditional markets.

Perhaps you are already a person of faith or someone who has a belief in a higher power. Are you ready to toss aside your current convictions for the sake of higher profits? Why would you associate with or celebrate such individuals when they attack the heart of everything you hold dear? After all, what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?


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