Author Topic: Number Go Up - Zeke Faux  (Read 11210 times)


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Number Go Up - Zeke Faux
« on: February 23, 2024, 04:32:16 PM »
Just a bonkers book, I thought it was well put together and it had a riveting escalation; things kept getting bigger and bigger. I was especially interested in the hard pivot into how Tether allowed for an explosion in phone scams, which in turn led to a spike in south Asian human trafficking.

The book holds two things in tension; an awful lot of (kind of awful) people have gotten crazy rich on crypto schemes and itís clearly a house of cards/bubble/scam. It felt hard to listen to the book and not come up with the idea that I should be off getting some of this filthy lucre, even as he outlined the many harms and damages that had been inflicted on all sorts of people. Iíd be curious whether Zeke ended up earning much during the several years that he researched this book.

I started a crypto skeptic and I hadnít changed my mind by the time I got to the end of it. Mostly I was left with a sense of wonder at the sheer audacity; literally billions of dollars of valuation were being propped up by transparently insane business plans and promises. I have heard a number of fairly compelling arguments for what crypto could be good for, but in practice it usually isnít good at those things (ie. helping access for the unbanked, evading regulation/preserving freedom, allowing easier online transactions, buying shit the government doesnít want you to (porn/drugs/etc.), avoiding capital losses because the Central Bank is dumb, etc.). The chapter about the videogame which took off in the Philippines was very interesting, and a story I hadnít heard about before. His examination of El Salvador was pretty interesting, it was nice to hear a story from someone whoíd done the on-the-ground reporting there.

Overall, it was a good history of crypto for the skepticís side. He doesnít work very hard to make a compelling case for crypto (because he thinks itís pretty full of shit), but he does do a good job of backing his own case. I might recommend it for people who donít have much of a horse in the crypto race, and just kind of want to know what the hell everyoneís talking about Ö but I suspect that the book would fall on deaf ears if what youíre trying to do is change someoneís mind.

Specific questions:
-Have any of the crypto-enthusiasts on the forum read this?
-Is he factually incorrect or full of crap on some of his assertions?
-Does the past year's bitcoin rise make his conclusions seem wrong, or is it still a house of cards?


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Re: Number Go Up - Zeke Faux
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2024, 10:18:33 PM »
I read this recently and enjoyed it although I didn't find it the most rigoursly written or researched. I do think crypto is basically a scam and this book did nothing but to confirm that.


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Re: Number Go Up - Zeke Faux
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2024, 06:52:09 AM »
Loved it. Crypto is a giant scam - obvious to anyone with their eyes open.


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Re: Number Go Up - Zeke Faux
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2024, 07:25:13 AM »
Haven't read the book, but maybe "crypto is a scam" is too simplistic. Maybe what the examples in the OP illustrate is that it's a whole new criminal industry. So it's less like an individual ponzi scheme or fake eBay listing, and more like the cocaine industry, or the prostitution industry, or the romance fraud industry.

In this light, crypto would be less about any given set of individuals than it would be about a way of committing fraud that is potentially lucrative for criminals anywhere in the world.

This may seem like a subtle shift, but it escapes many of the "what about..." criticisms leveled by fans of crypto. E.g. how does the "scam" keep going when so many people have been arrested? Or how can it be a scam if the supposed perpetrators are buying in? Or how can it be a scam if the blockchain is transparent?

These questions don't fit well with the model of a particular ponzi or human trafficking scheme, for example, but they do make sense in the context of an industry, like the fentanyl supply chain. You have more cartels/dealers than could ever be arrested, trade and the holding of inventory is necessary, suppliers act with impunity in places like China and parts of Mexico, and the street price and market supply are fairly steady even after some people go to jail.


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Re: Number Go Up - Zeke Faux
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2024, 07:31:31 AM »
Loved it. Crypto is a giant scam - obvious to anyone with their eyes open.

It was a bit startling how wide the scope of the scam was, at least for me. It's one thing for it to be a shady thing where you can lose money, that's basically a market with a lot of fraud but some good fundamentals. It's another thing entirely for the entire foundation to be so thoroughly fraudulent, with so little of the promised fundamentals at all.

This was a pretty good review (albeit slightly more critical than I was):

To ChpBstrd's points - my current book is 'Lying for Money', which has a huge amount of overlap given the topic, but hasn't really addressed crypto explicitly. He talks about control fraud, where the system itself ends up weaponized by actors who can do things like manipulate KPIs to demonstrate growth on the basis of a small number of sales. He makes the point that our legal system is incredibly bad at seeing the forest for the trees, so these sorts of things are hard to prove even when it seems like someone must have known. It's very, very good.