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Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto Denies All Bitcoin Ties in Verified Letter Via Lawyer (techcrunch.com)
134 points by kohanz on Mar 17, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments

Here is what doesn't make sense about Dorian Nakamoto being the Satoshi behind bitcoin:

Here's a guy who code switches during conversations and emails to maintain either the secret identity of an old Japanese man living in CA and playing with model trains, or to maintain the secret identity of a sophisticated programmer who created a proof-of-work system called bitcoin.

But then this advanced guy maintaining a secret identity signs every message he posts to the internet with his real name?

Leah McGrath-Goodman found this secretive guy who people have been searching for for the laser few years by looking his name up in a phone book?

That doesn't really track.

Many people like to picture the bitcoin inventor as some sort of god who knew everything in advance. The truth is in 2008/2009 (almost?) nobody was sure that bitcoin will succeed. Even Hal Finney(famous cypherpunk, who actively participated in the developing of the idea of the bitgold by creating RPOW: http://www.finney.org/~hal/rpow/ ), even Hal Finney was sceptical: "turned [bitcoin] off because it made my computer run hot" and "was surprised to find that it was not only still going, bitcoins actually had monetary value.[late 2010]"

It is probably that not only cypherpunks thought that bitcoin is nice but weird idea, but also Satoshi Nakamoto himself. True, if it takes off, Satoshi will change the world and make some money, but what if it doesn't? Then bitcoin is like bit gold or b-money -- cool theoretical concept, and Satoshi want some recognition for his work(just like Nick Szabo or Wei Dai who used their real names).

Of course there is some chance that bitcoin will succeed, so Satoshi wants to protect himself from government hostility. He knows about Liberty Dollar(don't confuse with Liberty Reserve), he knows about e-gold, and he knows about Phil Zimmermann(criminal investigation related to PGP).

So why does Satoshi need anonymity? Well, he doesn't. All he needs is _plausible deniability_, and he maintains it pretty well.

This whole thing reminded me of the lesswrong.com post on Amanda Knox [1]

Even the initial assumption that the creator of Bitcoin used his real name, contained in the headline, was extremely unlikely, and all other evidence was completely circumstantial. In my mind, it was nearly obvious that Dorian is not Satoshi after a few hours and was shocked to see that many believed the news story.

I'm still not sure if this was irrational on my part due to my own bias of preferring that Satoshi remain anonymous, or the irrationality of internet discussions is worse than I thought.

1: http://lesswrong.com/lw/1j7/the_amanda_knox_test_how_an_hour...

the initial assumption that the creator of Bitcoin used his real name, contained in the headline, was extremely unlikely

I'm curious: Why do people actually believe that this is so unlikely? By the time that I first read about Bitcoin, it seemed to be already accepted canonical knowledge that Satoshi Nakamoto must be a pseudonym, and I guess I just accepted that. But now that this discussion has come up, I don't think I remember any positive argument to that other than "he does not like to talk about his private life" (not a particularly strong argument given the amount of discussion of private life in typical open source projects) and "the inventor of Bitcoin must be some pre-established genius, and there is no such genius named Satoshi Nakamoto" (also rather questionable, and quite contrary to the startup culture usually seen here).

Are those pieces of evidence enough to make the use of his real name "extremely unlikely"?

It's unlikely that it is his real name because (1) the name does not appear outside of Bitcoin in any mailing list or forum and (2) bitcoin.org was purchased with anonymity in mind

To be fair, Leigh claims that Satoshi unambiguously admitted to her his involvement with bitcoin, and she was supposed to be a reputable journalist.

This gave some justification for initially accepting the story at face value.

Untrue. Leigh claims that Satoshi "tacitly" admitted his involvement, in the most ambiguous part of an extremely ambiguous writeup.

This is hardly stated "tacitly":

  "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

"In that," he says. Not "in Bitcoin". Not even "in cryptocurrency." As Dorian claims in his letter, he thought Leah was asking about his classified work for the federal government, and he was merely saying that his years of doing classified work were behind him.

Are we somehow to believe that someone who can't even get the name of the currency right (he called it "Bitcom" repeatedly), is the inventor? Nothing in Leah McGrath's articles or the follow up interviews with the AP or in this letter suggests to me that Dorian Nakamoto is anything more than who he says he is: just an old engineer looking for work.

The Newsweek article, in my view, is a disgusting piece of yellow journalism produced by a hack journalist who was doing whatever it took to get a flashy cover story for Newsweek's inaugural issue. In that, it succeeded. But in establishing Newsweek's journalistic bona-fides or establishing Leah McGrath as a decent human being, it failed utterly.

I agree with you completely. I was attempting to point out that author of the article wasn't exactly beating around the bush and basically said Dorian admitted to being involved.

  Reporter: Tell me, are you the inventor of Bitcoin?
  Dorian: I don't want any trouble, please leave me alone.
  Reporter: As an engineer working for defense projects, 
            you clearly had the skill to build this type 
            of technology.
  Dorian: I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it,...
All the reporter had to do was click "voice memo" on her iPhone, and there would have no doubt as to what had actually transpired...

Your comment is very difficult to read.

>this is hardly state "tacitly":

>>"I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it," he says, dismissing all further queries with a swat of his left hand. "It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."

>>-Dorian S. Nakamoto

Actually, speaking of Amanda Knox & LW... http://lesswrong.com/lw/ju0/amanda_knox_redux_is_satoshi_nak...

The entire fiasco reminds me of reddit's witch hunts to get the boston bomber, along with dozens of disasters in the past where innocent people have been indicted by them.

We're becoming a nation of people who can't think, but care not too much about that if others are going along with them.

We should support him, who cares who the founder is


Depends on how good he was at opsec and how seriously he was trying to be secret. If he had started it as a lark and only gotten worried about secrecy after thinking further, it wouldn't have been crazy to have used an obscured identity, one that would only be available to people searching obscure public records.

Of course it doesn't track. Satoshi Nakomoto always knew the last thing anyone would expect would be that his real name was Satoshi Nakomoto. It's a brilliant plan.

Or it is maybe just due to his quick visit with the nice people at Langley.

The thing that most people ignored about the Newsweek article was that the author deliberately took the pivotal quote "I am no longer involved in that..." out of context by not specifying what it was referring to.

Remember that Dorian S. Nakamoto was a contractor who worked on many government projects. It's likely he was asked on that and answered, then had his words deliberately misconstrued to imply that "that" referred to Bitcoin.

Then we had the P2P Foundation Satoshi deny that he was Dorian, breaking a 5-year silence to do so. Of course, it is unknown if it is the exact Satoshi Nakamoto of Bitcoin, or someone hijacked the account, or some member of the hypothetical pseudonymous Satoshi collective, but the email did match up with the one in the original Bitcoin paper.

At this point, Satoshi being Dorian is pretty much debunked, really.

I've said before the Newsweek story makes no sense. In order to believe it, you need to think this guy hatched a brilliant plan to protect his identity (after 5 years of successfully doing so) by acting like a clueless old man and calling Bitcoin "bitcom."

And simultaneously you have to believe, during the execution of his brilliant plan, he goofed and unambiguously confessed to his involvement in Bitcoin.

>"I have no knowledge of nor have I ever worked in cryptography, peer to peer systems, or alternative currencies."

We are talking about the anonymous person behind Bitcoin. I would put absolutely NOTHING past the original architect. Honestly, I would expect nothing else.

Would you expect him to not even be able to afford internet service or suffer financially while recovering from cancer and a stroke despite having an estimated 400MM worth of BTC?

Then you get into the "he deleted that BTC because it was just an experiment and he wasn't in it for the money" theories. There's no end to it.

> I would put absolutely NOTHING past the original architect.

An thus create a unfalsifiable, worthless hypothesis. Al Gore could be Satoshi then.

My girlfriend works at a bakery. She swears that one day an elderly Elvis and Tupac came in together, bought some pastries with bitcoin, then told her they invented the entire thing.

Al Gore has never denied being Satoshi:

Relevant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxnXo1o_XnQ

I believe it.

Score:5 Funny

>Honestly, I would expect nothing else.

You would expect the original architect to confess to being involved and then deny it hours later. Is there something about the original whitepaper that makes you think this person is mentally ill?

> You would expect the original architect to confess to being involved and then deny it hours later.

Yes. Yes, I would.

You don't have to be mentally ill to act mentally ill. The charade has pretty much removed all credence to the idea that he is the creator of bitcoin. Perhaps that's what he wants.

"Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right, I AM the Messiah!"

> We are talking about the anonymous person behind Bitcoin.

If they wanted to be anonymous, wouldn't they use a pseudonym?To create a decentralized identity protecting project as an anonymous individual using your real name (because you don't want to be found) seems... poorly thought out.

I doubt it's him.

Hindsight is 20/20. By this I mean: the name was linked when the white paper was written. Do you think Satoshi anticipated that everyone would ignore the white paper and that he would have to spend two years building it by himself?

My point is: he didn't choose his alias aided by the benefit of knowing what bitcoin would become. So it's suspect to deduce that his actions had been perfectly targeted to the facts of the present.

What about that guy who, after the original Newsweek story was posted, made a post about meeting Nakamoto after he bought an item from his girlfriend's bakery? Apparently he recognized him from the Newsweek photos of Dorian Nakamoto. Was that just a bit of overactive imagination?

EDIT: The post I'm talking about https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7354326

The rate of mistaken id is ridiculous.

For example, over 75% of DNA based exonerations were convicted based on mistaken ID's (and this is limited to those exonerations where DNA would be conclusive).

Post-identification feedback (IE learning facts later) can often even alter the original memory someone has of an identification:


I have read that thread, and there is no direct proof that the wife of the op actually saw Dorian. Just someone on HN talking about someone else story of an early encounter with a shy asian-looking bitcoin guy.

The only proof put forward was that the address that was 'probably' used was funded by a very early address linked to Gox. Gox isn't Satoshi (for what we know so far!), so NO.

Most likely a mistake or an advertising ploy.

Despite having a background in engineering, Nakamoto notes that he couldn’t find a programmer’s job for over a decade.

I get the sense that lots of 20-somethings in SV/Bay Area just don't think middle aged Asian men are capable of programming. (Middle aged Asian man.)

IMHO, ageism is a pretty big problem for developers and not just in the Bay Area.

IMHO, It's a much bigger problem in the Bay Area than most other places in the country.

This is not looking good for Newsweek. For Dorian to give such a flat unconditional denial means:

1. He is Satoshi Nakamoto but is calling Newsweek's bluff.

2. He is not Satoshi Nakamoto and is calling Newsweek's bluff.

In scenario 1, he's apparently confident that Newsweek has no other real proof and won't be finding any proof in the future...which is a lot of confidence in himself that he's wrapped up all the loose ends. Either way, Newsweek better have a trump card...they've been hinting that they had more information that backed their claims, so now's the time to show the cards.

> which is a lot of confidence in himself that he's wrapped up all the loose ends.

I'd agree with him. SN's so far done a very good job of avoiding leaks and disappearing: there's a few potential errors he may've made, but nothing serious. And people have completely failed to find anything connected to Dorian which makes him a better candidate for SN, which is in stark contrast to Ross Ulbricht - after his name was released and you started Google-hunting him, within hours you could find tons of evidence he was DPR (most brazenly, his LinkedIn page). If nobody's found anything about Dorian by now, then either he's really not Satoshi or he's done a perfect job cleaning up.

> Either way, Newsweek better have a trump card

You're right. To emerge looking good, they'll need one. All evidence so far is that they don't.

Their story hangs on a misunderstood quote.

How long until editors start resigning at Newsweek? And the lawsuit gets filed?

>Shortly thereafter the reporter confronted me at my home. I called the police.

That reporter is such a scumbag. What repercussions did she face?

The ethics here are very questionable. Wtf - you just find some dude, based on no real evidence, then you "out" him for something that's not criminal and give the internet trolls his whereabouts? What could be more "yellow press"? I really wish their ass got sued.

The internet trolls are the least of his concerns; when you're possibly worth 400 million, you need to worry about criminals. You're a target. That story put his life in danger.

Criminals and the IRS. But I repeat myself.

Snarky, but the IRS isn't a danger, they'd need to see evidence of a vast fortune before wanting to tax it. Given his lifestyle, they wouldn't look twice at him.

None yet, have to love the hypocrisy when someone reports statements of hers made on Facebook:



The letter by Dorian Nakamoto sounds like she's probably going to be getting a lawsuit for her employer.

repercussions? None that I know of. But this letter looks to be setting the stage for some legal action against Newsweek.

She re-launched Newsweek in print, though, so presumably she got lots of hoped-for money.

What does "re-launching" mean in this context?

Newsweek may share the same name as the nearly century-old newsweekly, but it's no longer the same, ah, beast.

The WashPostCo owned Newsweek forever, then sold it to Sidney Harman (whose name you might recognize if you're into high-end audio) in 2010. Then it became Newsweek Daily Beast Co owed by IAC and went all-digital. Then privately held IBT Media bought it from IAC last year and relaunched it in print this month. IBT is best known for publishing http://www.ibtimes.com/, which ironically last December accused someone else of inventing Bitcoin. Sigh.

It would be unusual for the reporter charted with writing the launch cover story on Bitcoin to receive significant equity, but it is fair to say that the current editors may have a significant incentive to defend their launch cover. I have not see them hire an independent outside ombudsman to investigate the launch cover's accuracy, for instance, which other news organizations have done in similar situations.

[Disclaimer: I spent a few years working at Newsweek competitor Time Inc. and Newsweek once offered me a job.]

Newsweek used to have a print edition that was discontinued some time ago. They just started it back up again and her article was the frontpage of the first print edition since it was discontinued, hence relaunching.

Newsweek went digital only for a while, the Satoshi "outing" was the headline article for the first print publication.

Thanks, exactly what I was looking for.

Statement from Newsweek:

Newsweek has not received any statement or letter from either Mr. Nakamoto or his legal counsel. If and when we do, we will respond as necessary.


Suddenly, accurate statements are important in this story.

This proves that interviews really need to be done via email or audio recording. This would seemingly prevent a lot of basic reporting issues.

Interviewee: "I did not say this."

Interviewer: "Here's the email / audio as proof."

Problem solved.

Not really solved, since you can still have people misspeaking or misunderstanding questions, and there's no way to prove that without mind reading.

And isn't that what happened in this case? Nobody's saying she made up the quote. IIRC everyone (reporter, Dorian, police officers) agree it was said. It's just that Dorian claims he misunderstood her question, which is why he gave an answer that appeared to admit to creating bitcoin. A recording wouldn't be conclusive.

Yes but there is so much more information in audio like tone of voice, timing and cadence. (Most) humans are good at deciphering this information and plying out the true meaning.

Yea but then she'd actually need to get him to agreed to an interview....

Not really, you can fake both.

Audio would be better. Email is easy to forge for anyone with even modest resources.

Can you explain how? DKIM signatures would be pretty difficult to forge...

DKIM is widely adopted, or you happen to know that the emails in question had them?

A very informative piece by Mike Hearn breaking down the inconsistencies in the Newsweek piece: http://www.mikehearn.com/Hosted-Files/Nakamoto-Could-Newswee...

So is this the moment where all the bitcoin fanatics pool together a bunch of BTC for Dorian as.. a sort of apology? The guy should at least get a new train set outta the whole mess..

One was started 10 days ago, almost at $30,000 USD:


Oh, awesome!

I hope they have the decency to convert it to usd and not send it as a puzzle to an old man with enough hassles in his life already.

Can we drop it and leave these people alone?

I'm not sure I understand how he figures that this scenario would keep him from finding work. Who wouldn't want to hire the creator of friggin' bitcoin?

I've been wondering, will the word Dorian, real Satoshi or not, find its way into Bitcoin language? Like Satoshi being the smallest amount of Bitcoin.

We'll call a transaction with 0 confirmations a "Dorian".

Good idea, but nearly all 0-confirmation transactions are confirmed later.

Let's call invalid transactions "Dorian"

It's sometimes been proposed to define:

  1 dorian = 100 satoshi
However, whether Dorian is the real Satoshi or not, it'd be disrespectful. (If he's the real Satoshi, who wanted his meatspace name out of it, he's earned deference to that desire, and the true honor is to not involve his name. If he's not the real Satoshi, he deserves the same distance from the project as any other unrelated private individual.)

This man is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and the way I see it, even if he were Satoshi, he is not Satoshi. Not even the real Satoshi Nakamoto is Satoshi Nakomoto.

Well he ought to apply to work at a bitcoin startup, because his name-branding alone would probably be worth $$

What if the "inventor" of Bitcoin isn't even really named Satoshi Nakamoto? All of this manhunt would have been in vain for so long.

"What if?" Pretty much everybody assumed the name was a pseudonym until this story broke.

How long before he denies this under oath? At that point he's risking criminal charges if he is found to be lying.

I'm surprised people even consider it is him.

Why a person who put so much effort to remain anonymous, was found through a phone book, because he used his real name in all correspondence?

Why do you think he would have to say anything under oath?

He doesn't have to but he may choose to if he decides to sue Newsweek, for example.

I didn't make the above comment, but a sworn declaration would be good ammunition on the part of the plaintiff. Also given the difficulty of prevailing, it could help force an early settlement.

"I plead the fif" - Dave Chapelle

"I haven't been able to find steady work for ten years, and this article written a week ago is why."

This is the amazing part! The denial from Dorian contains an obvious lie in it and represents an enormous hole in his argument. I think this is extremely suspicious and makes me think that this guy really is the creator of bitcoin. But for some reason unknown, possibly tax-related, that he cannot let anyone else know about. Reminds me a lot of when Roger Clemens or Lance Armstrong vehemently denying they used steroids, when the evidence strongly suggests otherwise.

Thank god they published or he may never have found out why.

I tend to believe the Newsweek article because a reputable journalistic source of that caliber would not run a story like that unless they had enough evidence to prove it. Because this guy is not a public persona they would probably otherwise be guilty of libel.


EDIT: As gamblor956 pointed out they would be "liable" rather than "guilty". It does sound like he may have a case though, especially if Newsweek is wrong.

Newsweek is not guilty of libel or defamation because those are torts for which criminal "guilt" is meaningless. Newsweek would not be liable for libel or defamation because being labeled the creator of Bitcoin is generally not something that would harm one's reputation.

Libel or defamation claims are generally applicable where one person claims another person did some heinous act, like rape, or a felony, and told other people about it. Some statements, like accusing another person of rape are considered so "heinous" that to win, all the plaintiff has to do is prove the statement was made, in which case the burden of proof shifts to the defendant, who must now prove the accuracy of the statement. Depending on the nature of what was actually said, the defendant's burden may range from simply proving that their statement was reasonable based on the facts to proving that what they said is verifiably true. (And note: not a criminal case, so: proof on either side simply means more likely than not.)

Nit: you appear to be describing per se defamation (accusations of heinous actions), but this is just a small subset of all defamation claims. So long as damages are incurred, false statements of fact can and do routinely incur liability, turning on the credibility of the statements, the recklessness (or deliberate deceptive intent) with which they're made, &c.

It's definitely not the case that a newsmagazine would be in the clear simply because designing Bitcoin isn't a crime (although other factors probably do rule defamation out).

> I tend to believe the Newsweek article because a reputable journalistic source of that caliber would not run a story like that unless they had enough evidence to prove it.

This is irony, right?

irony (noun): the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.

Um, remember Newsweek's under different management. See my other post nearby.

And it's not "guilty of" libel; it's more like "liable for defamation."

Both 'libel' and 'liable' are real legal words.

Libel refers to written/printed/online defamatory statements [1] - as opposed to slander, which is spoken defamation.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel#Libel

I believe declan is referring to the fact that libel, being a civil tort, exposes one to be liable for defamation, not guilty of it (being that it's not criminal).

Yep. My point is that criminal libel no longer exists in the United States, so you can't be "guilty of libel."

You can held liable for libel, but that's an awkward phrasing, so "liable for defamation" is broader and better.

I tend to disbelieve the Newsweek article because I read it, and it stank.

If the reporter is professing an opinion that Dorian is Satoshi based on their reading of the facts as they saw them, then it would be very difficult to claim this as libellous unless you could also prove that it was both false and an injurious thing to accuse someone of, in and of itself.

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