Blockchain or blockheads? Bitcoin mania mints believers and skeptics

I called Christian Day, a professor at Syracuse University law school who has written about bubbles and panics. He said that comparing Bitcoin to the tulip craze was unfair to tulips: “The Dutch were not as crazy as they’ve been portrayed.”

For one thing, the tulip bulbs were real, he said, and the hybrids that were the subject of speculation could be extremely valuable. What’s more, much of the trading was done by people who knew their horticulture. With the modern techno-tulips, he said, “I don’t think there’s anything there.”

Some of the most skeptical folks are experts in cryptography and computer security. Steven Bellovin, an adept in computer security and a professor at Columbia University, told me that the technology is still too buggy, “a lab experiment that escaped into the wild.” It’s hard to trust a currency, he said, that’s “backed by the full faith and credit of software that has to be updated monthly.”