March 12th, 2014
in Op Ed
by Mike Rogers, Lew Rockwell.com
I read the "scoop" in Newsweek concerning "discovering" Satoshi Nakamoto the inventor of Bitcoin living in California. I smiled.
When I read that this same man denied being the inventor of Bitcoin, I smirked.
When I read Newsweek's rebuttal concerning the denial by this Mr. Nakamoto, I chuckled.
The Newsweek rebuttal stands by their writer's "investigative reporting." It reads:
"Newsweek stands strongly behind Ms. Goodman and her article. Ms. Goodman's reporting was motivated by a search for the truth surrounding a major business story, absent any other agenda. The facts as reported point toward Mr. Nakamoto's role in the founding of Bitcoin."
Then when I read that the online social account for Satoshi Nakamoto had sprung back into life after a 5-year hibernation simply stating, "I am not Dorian Nakamoto." I laughed out loud and rolled my eyes at the absurdity of it all.
As a half-Japanese born geek, a long time Japan resident, Japanophile, and very well studied in Japanese history - I can tell you that when I read the first Newsweek article discovering Satoshi Nakamoto (entitled "The Face Behind Bitcoin")" I was totally fascinated too.
That is, until halfway through the article, I immediately lost interest when I came upon one sentence. The sentence read:
"Descended from Samurai and the son of a Buddhist priest, Nakamoto was born in July 1949 in the city of Beppu, Japan, where he was brought up poor in the Buddhist tradition by his mother, Akiko."
I immediately stopped reading further right there because the article lost all credibility at that point. Why? Well, the being born in Beppu and now winding up in the USA is credible: Beppu was near a big US naval base after the war. In fact, that's near where my mom met my dad after the war.
The other parts sound like Hollywood script but the "Descended from Samurai" sentence simply defies belief.
In the mid-1980s I worked under a guy named Hasegawa who was a Japanese historian. I will never forgot the day when he showed me an English textbook, written by a Caucasian American "writer," that said,
"Japan's economic recovery was due to the hard work of the Japanese. The Japanese received their work ethic from their samurai ancestors."
Hasegawa scoffed and threw the book down in front of me. He fumed, "Ridiculous! This is fantasy! It's western romanticism that Japanese have samurai ancestors. No one has samurai ancestors!"
After that, I began to look into it and, indeed, the numbers of people in Japan who can say they came from families who were samurai can be counted on ten toes; they are basically non-existent because many samurai were too poor to marry and, in a class society, generally marriage is within one's social strata. That would mean that, generally speaking, samurai who married would have married the daughters of other samurai. They certainly wouldn't marry the peasant class, which was 98% of the population.
Sure, this one fact doesn't put into dispute the entire Newsweek story, but that's not my point; realistically speaking, this entire notion just doesn't compute. This one fact does, though, put into question the credibility of the source for the Newsweek magazine claims.
The odds of this guy, Nakamoto, being the Bitcoin brain and having samurai ancestors would be akin to, say, some American Hero like Steve Jobs being directly descended from George Washington or Benjamin Franklin. Heck, the odds are even worse than that! George Washington was around 200-some years ago; most of the samurai disappeared 400+ years ago.
Japan was a desperately poor countries for centuries. There was no record keeping of this sort of thing a few hundred years ago. How could anyone make a claim like this? Yeah, I know. I'm anal-retentive (I'm that way often). But stuff like this bothers me.
This Bitcoin/samurai business sounds like the fantasy script for a Tom Cruise movie as the "Last Samurai Using Bitcoin" animation for geeky Japan, where the good guy, a "son-of-samurai," against all odds, fights the bad guys for the good of the people.
What? Is this the base script for next Disney produced Star-Wars movie?
Then when I hear people say that the Newsweek article is a good example of "investigative reporting," I roll my eyes.
I'm sorry, but since this was the issue of Newsweek issue that was its triumphant return to the news racks, I think people at the magazine were desperate for a good story.
I think it is a good story; I just don't think any of it is true at all.
I think this is just another farce that works to discredit Bitcoin. I also think this will make Newsweek and print media even more of a laughing stock than it already is.
This samurai business is laughable. The inventor of Bitcoin, being one guy, and actually being a Japanese with samurai ancestors is too fantastic to be true.
Being realistic, if the inventor of Bitcoin really is a Japanese, he has a higher chance of being a distant relative to the inventor of Pokemon than having "samurai ancestors."