Following a steady decline in value since mid-April, bitcoin enjoyed a recent upward bounce to the neighborhood of US$36K. Experts were quoted in various articles as to what it meant. One surmised that if BTC could break the $38K barrier, it could signal a move towards $47K “and potentially beyond.” Another expert guessed that BTC might bottom out at $20K before grabbing a traction point from which to truly start climbing.
Even if the opinions of these two experts appeared totally divergent, neither spoke an untrue word. Couched in their language were words built for evasive action: “could,” “potentially,” “possible,” “may have,” etc. You recognize these escape pods because you’ve seen their lawyerly cousin, the disclaimer, in practically every piece of investment literature you’ve come across. You know how they go. “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” “This is not intended to be financial advice.” “Talk to your broker or an expert.”
Could BTC rise to $47K and potentially beyond? Yes, and here’s how we know. Because it is one possible outcome in a future of infinite possibility. Here’s another way to look at it: possibilities have only one job, and that is to remain possible. A billion dollars per bitcoin is also possible, though that understandably sounds less expert-like than an unwieldy, off-balance number like 47,000.
This light-footed type of journalism, in which a writer selects a quote from whichever “expert” fits his or her preferred conclusion best, is common across all topics nowadays. The writer is off the hook for bad predictions, as they were spoken by an expert, and the expert is off the hook because they rarely speak an explicitly falsifiable thing. By sheer volume, an occasional prediction will inevitably strike close to bullseye, which will in turn burnish the credentials of that same, indefinable expert class.
There’s no harm in hearing the experts out, but to react each time would cause paralytic whiplash. This is the internet age we’re talking about here. There are opinions for everything. You probably wouldn’t have to search long to find a dentist convincingly cite tooth decay as a workable defense for literally stealing candy from children. Research is good, but we must be vigilant in this ocean of voices. Experts are everywhere, if a person will just label them one.