The Bitcoin Matrix Podcast #19 — Brandon Quittem: The Bitcoin Mycologist on the Fourth Turning
Link to the audio: https://youtu.be/bX9xZ3MaqUo
Cedric Youngelman: Brandon Quittem is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, the communications director at Swan Bitcoin, and passionate Bitcoiner! Included in his writing arsenal are two epic opuses: Bitcoin is the Mycelium of Money, and Bitcoin: Rhythms of History. He started his professional career in enterprise software for Oracle, won the awards, made the monies, got the promotions. His whole life was leading up to these moments. On the outside it looked like everything was going great! On the inside he wasn’t happy. And then he had a mycelium-like thought: he wondered, Is this the rest of his life? Welcome to the pod, Brandon. It’s great to have you here!
Brandon Quittem: Thanks for having me! Looking forward to the conversation!
Cedric Youngelman: Definitely! I’m kind of curious, just jumping back to your time at Oracle and selling enterprise software: what was that like, and what did you learn selling enterprise software that you kind of bring to the Bitcoin space? Or your outlook on economics, or how systems and networks work?
Brandon Quittem [01:27]: Yeah definitely! So I graduated college in 2010, and that was my first job out of school, was selling enterprise software. And I stayed there for about 4 years before leaving and doing other things, but my time there — a couple quick points: I would say the first thing that really threw me off was that Oracle is an IT company, right? They serve enterprise customers and they give them technology. And yet the internal technology at Oracle was garbage! So some of the sales reps were using Salesforce CRM tools to manage their own pipeline, even though Oracle had all kinds of CRM tools. And then you start calling on these large businesses—like one of my accounts was Verizon for a long time. And you take a look at a company that you think has their stuff together, and yet they make horrible decisions managing their IT year-over-year: everything’s abandoned, it’s short term, and I was sort of disenchanted by the allure of these big companies and what they were meant to do. And if I go back a second, I felt at the time that my whole life was leading up to that, and going through business school and learning these things. And all of a sudden — you know, getting the job that I thought I wanted! And it just wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought! I had a good time there, I paid off my student loans there, I met great people. The stress of a sales environment — I actually performed really well under that environment. I did well there! I just had the flash in my eye of, Is this the rest of my life? Is this what I’m gonna be doing? That just wasn’t good enough and so I took a little detour.
Cedric Youngelman [03:05]: Yeah. You speak about the internal architecture at Oracle. And then maybe [with] your own internal software it seems like you rearchitected your life! You kind of rebuilt it from scratch. And went on a journey with your now wife. And you went — you didn’t just get out of corporate world and just run — it seems like you went and joined communities and built things!
Brandon Quittem [03:32]: Yeah that’s right. What ended up happening was, I was being groomed for a promotion. I flew out to Denver to meet with a new team. And I sort of had this experience of, I don’t want to become these people! It was just the classic sales reps: not polite to the server, infidelity runs rampant in the community, and just all around deeply unhappy people! And so—I feel that I’m susceptible to my environment as most people are, and I could just flash before my eye again realizing that I was going to become this. And so what ended up happening is I just hit pause, I went through a Yoga teacher training here in Minneapolis while staying full-time at Oracle. And I sort of had the viewpoint of: (1) my future life at Oracle as the trajectory shows, and then you have (2) this other community of people that are radically different! That process opened my eyes to, Okay, maybe I don’t have to do the thing I thought I was meant to do! And it gave me the courage to try something different. And so what you’re alluding to then is my wife and I quit our jobs — we met at Oracle selling software — and we quit our jobs and bought a one-way ticket to India a few months later. Then we backpacked through Asia for a year, that was in 2014. All the while there we were building a wellness business essentially teaching wellness entrepreneurs like Yoga instructors. Teaching them business skills: how to build a website, how to market themselves, things like that. Because we’re business people that fell into the Yoga world, and we noticed that that community is not very good at business. We had the skills, so it was a nice match. We did that for 3 years traveling and working, and then bumped into Bitcoin in 2017. And then I realized, Okay, this is what I really want to be doing! And more or less, I put my foot on the break for the Yoga business stuff — hired a small team to run it — and then just decided, This thing’s important here! I’m gonna rearchitect everything on Bitcoin! If you think about it from the high level, the pendulum swung into the corporate world where I thought I was going, and then I just rebelled against it and did the complete opposite — backpacking hippie for a few years. And you know we meet sort of in the middle and there’s Bitcoin! Which I think is a more wholesome synthesis of who I am! I think I’m more suited for that! So yeah it’s been a fun ride in Bitcoinland ever since!
Cedric Youngelman [05:50]: Right. And mushrooms I think have always been part of your life from what I’ve read! I think you grew up eating steak and mushrooms. But how did mushrooms become such a lens into the universe?
Brandon Quittem: Yeah good point! I did grow up eating mushrooms just casually, just put it on your steak. And it wasn’t until I graduated college — I had started experimenting with psychedelic mushrooms, I started foraging and just looking for Morel mushrooms, which are common in the United States. And it was through foraging that really kicked it off! You’re just out in the woods, you’re hiking around looking for treasure. That sort of kick-started an interest here. I started learning about what these things are, found out about Paul Stamets and started learning about them. That was maybe 2011 or so, that started. Yeah I carried that with me just as a side project! [06:40] I’m always studying some weird thing. And it wasn’t until we were living in Bali in 2018 the first half of the year and going to lots of meetups and writing for a crypto publication online which — anyways, forget that part of the story! — and then I started putting together the Mycelium Archetype. I first heard about it through Terence McKenna, who had explored the Internet through comparing it to Mycelium as sort of this living, breathing network-like organism where individual units sort of together create this larger whole. The sum is greater than the parts! And the whole network actually displays tendencies that a living organism might do! And so I had an epiphany that night in Bali, rode my scooter home, and just sat there and wrote and wrote and wrote, and more or less got probably 80% of the first article down — at least in idea form. And 6 months later I put it into an essay and published it. So it sort of merged the two worlds! It’s quite shocking that in Bitcoin you can do something like that! As someone who’s into a lot of weird stuff, the synthesis of the two and how it’s accepted in this community is pretty special! Whatever you bring to the table, that lens sort of taints your perspective on Bitcoin! But it’s also really useful, because you have these sort of analogies to draw on previous knowledge bases that people have, and so there’s little short cuts into the Bitcoin ecosystem. At least that’s how I see it!
Cedric Youngelman [08:22]: Yeah. I thought there were a lot of interesting things going on here! One I kind of saw you leaving Oracle and that kind of life and going out and building — it’s kind of like your Mycelium, you going underground, you getting distributed, you gaining knowledge, trading, growing, and then you kind of come up with Bitcoin, it seems like. Maybe that’s your spore, I think that’s the word! And what I find that’s really interesting is that you look at Bitcoin through this mushroom lens! And what I think is really interesting about that is also the timing of it. We’re in the bear market and the article gets into that! You know, Bitcoin is like Mycelium, it’s kind of growing organically and trading and learning, even though you don’t see anything above the ground. And then you make this interesting connection where Mycelium and maybe Bitcoin are like dark matter and neurons in the Internet. They have life! Maybe you can touch on that: how is Mycelium like those things?
Brandon Quittem [09:21]: Yeah definitely! So Mycelium is — for people who aren’t necessarily initiated into the world of fungi — fungi have their own kingdom. You have animals, you have plants, you have fungi, etc. There’s millions of different organisms that make up this kingdom, and the predominant form these organisms take is the Mycelial form. And you can think of this like an underground root system. It’s one cell-wall thick, it’s just an underground Internet — it connects all the trees and plants together, it forms communication networks, it communicates, it trades resources, it sort of acts as an immune system for the forest, and from that lens you realize that a forest is not this competitive thing. Like, yes there’s competition here and there, but really it should be looked at as its own ecosystem that acts as one unit! And the Mycelium is sort of the membrane that holds it all together! And that underground network archetype just seems to show up all over the universe. So fungi have been doing this for over a billion years on our planet. They’re sort of the shepherds of life on our planet. This network system just seems to be a really effective evolutionary strategy. And then you start to realize, all dark matter and dark energy takes on this same network archetype. So if you zoom way out, it’s the network. If you zoom in on your neurons, our brains our the same network archetype! And so you start to see it all around! And to me what that says is: it’s an evolutionary strategy that whatever we call life employs, and it happens to be a very effective strategy, because fungi are the most resilient type of species on our planet — it’s not even close! They’ve survived all six mass-extinction events. Where you know, the dinosaurs get wiped out — fungi inherit the earth. It happens again — fungi inherit the earth. So this network archetype just seems to be sort of the definition of antifragility! And now you look at that through a Bitcoin lens and you realize, Okay, Bitcoin is like this Mycelial network — individual people and computer nodes. We all sort of make this network, and we all act in our own rational best self-interest just like the Mycelium does. But together you form this unit that adapts to its environment! It seeks out unmet demands and sends a signal to developers to go create some new software. If a bug is in the system, information travels through the network and it rebuilds. So it learns and it adapts, and it’s very hard to kill because just like Mycelium you can break it in half — just literally break the organism in half — and now you have two organisms! And so you could cleave off a section of Bitcoin and you could go confiscate all of the miners in the United States, and the network routes around that and it creates an opportunity for another part of the organism to flourish! And you can sort of go down — and I like analogies, I find them to be effective. Obviously, Bitcoin is not Mycelium. But they’re useful, and some people push back, like, Speak true or speak straight! But I prefer the analogies. I think they’re more fun! And now thousands of people have reached out to me in DM saying, Hey! I didn’t really understand Bitcoin—this analogy worked! Or, I gave it to a friend, or, I didn’t really think about Bitcoin in this way. And so it seems to have struck a chord. And to be fair, I’m not the first one to talk about this. Ralph Merkle has a really famous quote where he says Bitcoin is a living organism. And if you haven’t seen this quote — I don’t have it pulled up — but it’s a very, very cool, poetic way to look at Bitcoin! So I’m standing on the shoulders of giants and since then many other people have written about it. Especially Gigi’s work, Proof of Life, etc. That’s a fantastic series!
Cedric Youngelman [13:08]: Yeah we’re talking to him in about a month! I really dig this whole, Bitcoin is a living organism thing. I think it is an emergent life form of some kind! Does Mycelium make mistakes when it’s trading and learning? Does it have maybe an enzyme that is a casualty? The analogy I’m kind of looking for — what I’ve thought a lot about — is maybe the cyber hornets. Maybe they aren’t making mistakes! But like Ross Ulbricht and Roger Ver — who you know were in the Bitcoin space and were acting maybe — they thought in their rational interest and maybe perpetuating or trying to grow the system? I don’t know where their place would be in the analogy.
Brandon Quittem [13:48]: Yeah how I would see that is, you can think of the Mycelial network in terms of a fungi — think of it like a million individual parts and that’s actually how it operates! It’s like this branching, forking little finger-like tentacles that are each individually exploring their locality. And let’s say one of those forking little branches of Mycelium—the edge of the network — let’s say it comes across a predator of some sort. Another fungus or a bacteria. It sends information through the network to the specialist. The specialist mushroom scientist creates a custom enzyme — they’re the best chemists on our planet — creates a custom enzyme, and then ships it around the network. And then the network learns and grows. It has essentially a chemical library of different new molecules that it invented for its own benefit to survive, and then you apply that to humans — all of a sudden, we start taking compounds from the fungal kingdom! The majority of our medicine comes from fungi because our biology is so similar. And the medicine works for them and it just so happens to work for us. So back to the Roger Vers of the world — how I see them would be: they’re just one tip of the network. And they made a decision they thought was right. Now it seems like the network decided that they were wrong — but that’s the deal! There’s casualties here! Underground is the most hyper-competitive part of all of our ecological systems! It’s gruesome down there! And same with Bitcoin — it’s pure competition. You screw up — you’re kicked off the network. No problem! And your reputation matters, and don’t gamble with it!
Cedric Youngelman [15:29]: I love some of these fungi fun facts you put in here. Fungi eating rocks is the main reason we have top soil. Top soil enables us to grow food. It took fungi over 1 billion years to produce just 18 inches of top soil that we have today. I didn’t even know anything about this! That part in the ecosystem, and the time it takes — any of this! I thought that was really interesting. What is horizontal gene transfer? And how is that different from other species or the way other networks work?
Brandon Quittem [16:01]: Yeah that’s a super interesting point! So let’s compare it to vertical gene transfer. In genetics this is Mother + Father copulate and have an offspring, that offspring has the genes from the mother and father so it’s a vertical transfer from one generation to the next. And horizontal gene transfer is essentially — let’s say there’s two fungi in one ecosystem that are competing. And one fungi says, Wow, that other guy — he’s doing really well! I wonder why he’s so effective in this ecosystem? So the fungi eats the other one, or consumes some amount of genetic information. It absorbs from another species that’s parallel to it, and then it incorporates that DNA into the species! I’m anthropomorphizing here — I don’t know what the fungi are thinking when they do this. But it seems like a last ditch effort that says, Wow, my strategy’s not working! I’m gonna steal their strategy and hope it works! And now if you compare that to Bitcoin, the analogy I use is that, Okay, there’s thousands of different cryptocurrencies now — they each make different tradeoffs, they’re all trying to create features to out-compete Bitcoin — I think the answer is it’s futile but they’re gonna try! And let’s say there’s some new technology that’s produced — let’s say zero knowledge proofs or some sort of privacy tech. Maybe Bitcoin wants to implement that! And so the Bitcoin Mycelial organism could perform horizontal gene transfer and just adopt what that other network uses and bolt that onto Bitcoin!
Cedric Youngelman [17:34]: Yeah. You make these broad and excellent points relating human psychology, hype cycles, and the mushroom method. And you speak to how — again this was written during the bear market—so I think it’s really interesting that the mushroom goes through its own cycles. Maybe you could speak to that: how is that similar to Bitcoin cycles and our psychology and how we think about cycles?
Brandon Quittem [18:01]: Yeah definitely! I think that’s a super fun analogy! So how Mycelial organisms lived is through underground — they’re in that networked form. And when conditions are absolutely perfect, it concentrates its energy right below the surface of the ground, and then it produces a mushroom that shoots out of the ground. That mushroom is like the apple on an apple tree. The real organism is underground, just like the tree is the Mycelial form. However that fruiting body—that mushroom—that it is is a reproductive organ. It grows very quickly, and then it releases the little mushroom spores — tiny microscopic seeds that float around and they land nearby. And when they land nearby — as long as there’s two of them near each other—they fuse together and form a new colony. And then they live underground and they grow and grow and grow and then when conditions are right, that new organism reproduces by producing a mushroom! So that’s the fungal life cycle. Now if we compare that to hype cycles in Bitcoin, most of Bitcoin’s life, the price is boring! There’s no hype — nobody’s talking about it. That’s the bear market! That’s like the Mycelial form when it’s just underground, networking, eating, growing — all those things. But when conditions are absolutely perfect in Bitcoin land, the price goes crazy, everybody starts talking about it, capital floods in, your taxi driver’s talking about it, and just like the mushroom, out of nowhere it explodes! It very quickly matures and dies back very quickly. So that’s the blow-off top. But just before it starts coming down, it recruits all these new people to the system, and those are like the little mushroom spores. And now the mushroom spores fly all around. Most of them died, but a few of those newcomers into the Bitcoin market stay! And those become the next wave’s HODLers. And then the bear market — they network underground, they build resilience, that’s when we’re doing things like Proof of Keys, getting people to hold their own custody, learning about Bitcoin. Yeah that’s sort of the bear market! It feels like the Mycelial organism is concentrating all that matter right below the surface, and it doesn’t feel very long before a mushroom will pop out and the price will rise!
Cedric Youngelman [20:18]: Right! The mushroom thing is so interesting because you talk about it in the book where humanity has had this long mysterious relationship with mushrooms: fear, maybe anxiety, euphoria, medicine. It’s funny, it’s even in video games! The red and white mushrooms in Super Mario Brothers — I never really connected these dots. You even tell us what kind of mushroom that is! And then it’s like, Bitcoin conjures up a quasi-religious fervor. And we talked about it as a life form as well, and I feel both these kind of camps! How do these either inter-relate, or what does it mean that Bitcoin is like a religious fervor?
Brandon Quittem [21:01]: So the Mycelium of Money series is four parts. The first part is about Mycelium decentralization — essentially establishing that as a fungus. The second one is about the social layer. That’s humans interacting with Bitcoin. And you can think of that as humans interacting with mushrooms! And I take a long time-scale to go through that one, and what I’m trying to bring up is that humans have had relationships with mushrooms for as long as we can look back in time. Oftentimes that’s simple food. They can be used to sharpen your knives, as medicine, to transfer embers, to get you high, they can kill you, dyes — all kinds of things! There’s lots of fossil evidence of ancient man using these tools. There’s one famous one: Ötzi died in the Swiss Alps like 8,000 years ago. And what he had on him was a necklace with one mushroom which hardens when it dries out. It’s so hard it can sharpen steel! And he had another mushroom that you can store an ember and travel long distance. You can have one ember for three to five days inside this. It’s called a tinder conch. Think of a little vessel that keeps a spark alive. And if you think about ancient man, fire is everything! He was crossing the Alps in winter, and of course you need your fire! So what this tells us is that ancient man realized how important these mushrooms were, and they formed a relationship with them, and the humans that formed a relationship with mushrooms out-competed the others! [22:37] Then you fast forward and now you start to have these societies that realize that certain mushrooms get you high. And at low doses that actually increases your eyesight. And so that makes you a more effective forager if you consume low doses of psilocybin. And at higher doses it creates more of a religious-like experience, or a community-like experience. So it would be like a bonding thing for the tribe. And higher doses like I said it’s a religious experience — you’re taking in all kinds of new information. And so there’s a theory that that’s why humans evolved! To have such large brains. Because there’s this unexplained period in history where our brains were small small small small small, then all of a sudden our brains exploded! And that’s the neo-frontal cortex! That’s responsible for language, symbolism, higher critical thinking, religious ideas. And so I tease with that idea just a little bit there, and then there’s all these examples of different tribes who worship the mushroom in different ways, or have ceremonies with it or whatever. And Bitcoin’s kind of the same way! It’s sort of this mysterious thing that people feel like they discovered something when they find it! You want to evangelize it as soon as you get it! And so there’s all kinds of parallels with the religious side. And now some people — we live in a very secular society now so a lot of people aren’t really into religion—that’s fine, I’m not either! However, from the religious angle in Bitcoin, people would try to say, Oh! You’re so religious! You’re zealous! You’re tribal! That’s true, right! But they try to use that as a bad thing! If I’m investing in an upstart money that is attempting to overthrow the incumbent dollar and all the power that comes with it — I want crazy religious people to defend this network, especially in the early days! It’s like providing cover fire to get Bitcoin through the door. Once it gets to a certain size, it will become too big to fail, and so the religious community around it is massively massively important. Guys like Michael Saylor realize this — he coined the term the cyber hornets. [24:45] I think that’s quite apt! Yeah and now here we are: a bunch of crazy people overthrowing the legacy system peacefully! And it’s attracting the smartest, most interesting people on the planet to this thing — this thing that somehow represents truth in a world without it! And it gives young people purpose! It just feels like the right thing to do! And it feels like something that humanity needs! So myself and many others find it very easy to dedicate most of our waking hours to this thing. And podcasts popping up everywhere, incredible writers — the industry is just flourishing! So it’s quite fun to be a part of it, I would say.
Cedric Youngelman [25:30]: I have to be honest, I love these two works! I think I want to turn a little bit more to the Rhythms of History. But as we wrap up kind of talking about the Mycelium of Money, I see almost these two pieces as — they’re very different voices to me — and I mean that as a compliment! I feel like they’re written from two different people. I think there’s many facets to brand it, I’m just really curious — this is just like a drop in the bucket! The first book for me is a page-turner. I just gobbled it up! And you put it on your website — I love this — it’s a 58-minute read. I did it in an hour and fifteen or and hour and a half. But that to me was a page-turner! And the next — and I think these should be books! But I also feel like we’re making our way through a trilogy. So the first one is like—in the great trilogies of the world, maybe this isn’t the greatest trilogy, but Star Wars: A New Hope — and now we’re moving into the the Rhythms of History: The Empire Strikes Back! And we got this greater macro front that we’re dealing with. And I don’t know what the third opus will be! But I really want to turn to the second one. And as we phase into that — you make a point though in the Mycelium of Money about Bitcoin getting through the great filter of crypto — and that religious fervor will help it survive. And I see that. But I’m almost like, Screw crypto! This is what’s gonna help us get through the great filter of humanity. So we have this birth of Bitcoin, but now we got this larger context that we’re all dealing with in these turnings. And to kind of speak on that, you put on the website, the turnings was a 50-minute read. I did it in about six hours over two days. I read like three paragraphs and then I had to go for a walk and think about things! We talk about how we go through time, and time is maybe not completely circular, maybe not completely linear. I’ve heard [??? 27:43] say it’s more like a spear, continuing through time but there’s a circular nature to it. But what are these turnings that we’re dealing with? And let’s start from really wide out: what is a 90-year period of turning?
Brandon Quittem [28:01]: Yeah! So just to comment quick on the great filter. This is just a fantastic framing I think, both for Bitcoin and — I like what you mention with regards to humanity’s point here — it might be humanity’s point. If someone’s not aware of what this is, it’s essentially asking the question of, If there’s so many galaxies and so many planets around the world, why don’t we see life around us? Why isn’t there spaceships, why hasn’t anyone visited us, why haven’t we seen any evidence? And the thesis is that, as life develops, there becomes these crucibles, these really hard challenges, and most species die out when they hit these challenges. It sort of filters out these species. So maybe there was a million humanoid-like species around the world, but they can’t ever figure out how to get off their own rock, and so they eventually bomb themselves off with nukes. So that could be a great filter! Or maybe the great filter happened behind us! Maybe it was from single-cell to multi-cell organisms! Maybe that is really hard to do! And so there’s single-cell organisms everywhere, but very few make it past that! We don’t know! But it’s nice to think about. Now if we think about Bitcoin, I call the great filter of cryptocurriences the nation state. Many people call it the final boss. My framing there was, if your cryptocurrency doesn’t feasibly stand a chance at surviving a state-level attack, then there’s absolutely no point to continue. Because they’ll let you get big, and up until the point where it matters, and then they’ll squash you! And 99.999% of cryptocurrencies will not pass this filter. I think Bitcoin is the only one that I feel confident that it will! [29:47] Yeah I don’t think anything else will at this point! Now let’s transition to the Fourth Turning. For context this is a book written in 1996 by two demographers — they spent like 30 or 50 years studying demography, and they realized, Why! There’s all these patterns! And why are all these patterns coming up? They put this into a series of books. The Fourth Turning is one of those books. It’s like the Cliff Notes of their book called Generations, which is like an encyclopedia of history and trying to find patterns. Most people think of time as a linear process. From a worse past to a better future. And that’s sort of the culture today. You mention from the Jewish tradition they view it as a spiral? It goes upward over time? That makes sense. That’s actually a really good point: lots of ancient cultures had observed cycles of history! And the main one he measured was called the Saeculum, which is a long human life which happens to be between 80–90 years. And for whatever reason every 80–90 years we go through a crisis period—this is typically war! So 80–90 years ago we have World War II, before that we had the Civil War, before that we had the Revolutionary War. And so, Why does society have this crisis every 90 years? You dig in deeper and all of a sudden you realize that there are very clearly defined stages! In a 90 year period there are four stages, or four turnings. You can think of Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. And they’re really a mood, and that mood would allow you to predict how society would respond to a catalyst. The mood helps you observe it from that way. And why are these moods created and why are they so observable? Because humans — just the way we emerge through culture and society — we have this repeating pattern of four different archetypes: the hero, the prophet, the nomad, the artist. And what happens is, based on the mood at the time when you’re born, that will imprint you as a young person. So everyone in the milennial generation, we grew up during the unraveling, and now we’re all sort of the same. Then when we grow up, now as this well-defined generation, we start to act based on our upbringing in predictable ways, and we start to imprint history! And then the next generation, they’re dealing with all the crap that we put on them, and then they do the same thing! I’ll pause there for a second to say that the thesis comes off as something that shouldn’t be true. Many smart people bump into and they go, Ah! That kind of sounds like a stretch! I hear lots of counter-examples in my head! I can’t even believe this! And what I would say to those people is that the book itself adds a lot of color. This thesis needs a ton of examples before it really clicks. And I try to summarize it in the essay, but if you are interested and you want to go deeper, I think the book will help solidify these. And now I see this runs pretty much everywhere! I can’t help but observe through this! So it does seem fundamentally human. To bring us to present time, we’re right in the middle of the fourth turning, which is the crisis period! That’s essentially the realization that our institutions are crap! This is our politics, this is our healthcare, our governments, this is everything external to the individual — all the institutions are garbage! And then we all of a sudden realize, Wow! We really do need these institutions! What is healthcare was good? What is politics was good? So people had this collective realization that they want to re-do it and they want to have good institutions again! And you can look at that as supply and demand of order. A high supply of order means our institutions are doing well. A low supply of order means that our institutions are bad! So we have a low supply of order now, but as you enter the fourth turning, the demand for order is accelerating. It’s rising very quickly! So that causes a frenzy, so any little spark in a fourth turning will be a really big deal, because we’re all primed to make that change. We’re in the middle of a fourth turning now, we have probably about ten years left. It started in the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, and I predict it to end around 2030. I don’t think we’ve hit the climax yet so I expect some turbulence here, and then I expect massive changes to politics, to healthcare, to money — everything’s gonna change! And the analogue is 1929–1945. So that was the previous fourth turning. It started with a financial crisis in the stock market, the Great Depression, FDR’s New Deal. Now we get into World War II and then we have Bretton Woods towards the end of World War II. All kinds of things changed: U.N., NATO, World Bank, IMF, social security, pensions — all kinds of crazy stuff was built there, and it was very unprecedented at the time! Now we take these things for granted, but at the time it was very radical! FDR ran off a campaign of fiscally sound budget! He was gonna balance the budget. And then a few years later he’s passing the largest stimulus bill in history, and going full Keynesian and doing all kinds of crazy stuff! And the business people at the time — the government’s in desperation — so they’re reaching for money wherever they can get it. And the business people at the time are going, Okay, we either print a lot of money, or they’re gonna start taking money from the people who have it! So all the business people are like, Yeah, fine! Devalue the currency! No problem! And of course we know that devaluing the currency hurts the little guy more than the people with assets. And that started deficit spending during a crisis. And now we’re deficit spending for fun! Everyone gets some points !— if you’re Stephanie Kelton.
Cedric Youngelman [35:52]: I want to dig into a lot of what you just said there. To frame it up, I want to talk about the prophet, the hero, the nomad, the artist. Who they are? I think that’s gonna help people understand where they fit in these turnings. What are these macro forces that have molded them. But I also want to think a little bit about how does one maybe not be a part of this? What is the prophet, the nomad, the hero, and the artist? Let’s use today’s baby boomers, gen x, millennials, gen z definitions?
Brandon Quittem [36:33]: Yep! Let’s do that. But first I have to address the point of how do we not participate? This one comes up a lot! It sort of feels like, if this is true, then our future’s already written — so what’s the point? Right? That’s sort of the thing that comes up. But the reality is, this is a very general approach. This is how society moves. You can think of it like, let’s say there’s twenty variables in how you measure society. How do we approach politics? How do we raise our kids? What is the supply and demand of order? Are we individualistic or communistic? Each one of these are on a pendulum that just swings over time. And the mood just determines — it gives you a rough angle: are we increasing in demand for order, or decreasing? Right? So it’s very broad! You can’t avoid it at the society level, but at the individual level you can break every single one of these rules no problem! And many people do! But it’s really just how that group-think occurs.
Cedric Youngelman [37:34]: Were you breaking the rules and busting the mold when you quit your job and went overseas? Or are you still subjected to these macro forces even though you’re trying to get out of the system?
Brandon Quittem [37:45]: Yeah it’s interesting. So as a millennial myself I’m a “hero” generation. Heroes grow up in the unraveling which is deregulation, everybody’s getting drunk at the party, nobody’s trying to end the party, this is the 90’s, this is the early 2000’s, the gettin’s good! Nobody really cares, nobody is asking questions — it’s fine, right? So millennials actually grow up over-parented, and the reason is because the previous generation — Gen X — they were under-parented, so a whole country in America hated kids because they were the black sheep kids—they didn’t have supervision, so they were bad boys! And so millennials are a response to that, saying, Wow! We gotta fix the kids! So millennials are super-overparented, you can’t hurt ‘em, we’re bubble boys, thirteenth-place ribbons, we’re all special, so we grow up with that, and then we also come of age during the crisis. This is the period where we rearrange the exterior world, we go to war, or we do something big enough to change everything. That’s sort of the millennial generation: that’s the hero. The risk with the millennial generation is that they’re too orderly, they’re too collectivist. So we’re gonna flirt with socialism — we already are! And the millennials like that, they choose that! They unironically call each other comrade, which obviously if you pick up a history book you might realize how stupid that is. But they don’t! And they actually prefer to over-index towards collectivism rather than individualism. And I feel — myself — I do not fit in with this model at all! I’ve always been individual, go against the grain, do my own thing. However I see my peers very much like this! So that’s sort of the thing here: I might break the mold, but my friends haven’t — it’s pretty obvious. So that’s one generation—let’s go through a few more to actually get to your point. [39:44] The next generation is the prophet archetype. The prophet archetype is the baby boomers. These are the people who grew up, they were born after World War II. Everything was given to them after World War II — this was Pax Americana, white picket fences, the gettin’s good, suburbs, equality is high, and then these little spoiled kids who got everything, they grow up and they realize that the culture was sterile, it’s boring, there’s no edge, the music sucks, nobody’s doing anything spiritual, and so that prophet archetype comes of age and they cause an awakening. This is a rearranging of the interior world. And that’s halfway through the cycle! So at the midway point we rearrange the interior world — at the end of the cycle in the fourth turning we rearrange the exterior world. And the prophet is responsible for that interior revolution. This is the psychedelic 60’s, Civil Rights movement. Before this this would be the Puritans, and any religious movements — they happen at that period! They grow up, they’re principled, they’re narcissistic, they’re ideological. They’re all hippies, right? Then that ended, they had a wake-up call, and then they became yuppies. And they were the individuals. They didn’t actually want to grow up — they were the ones who raised Gex X’ers without any supervision. That brings us to Gex X. They’re the nomads, they’re practical, they’re like, Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it! They’re usually the ones who have to make the hard decisions, they’re the bad boys, they’re pragmatic, and throughout history they were never the key leaders. They were always the strong general who actually won the war. They put their head down, they did the things nobody wanted to do and they got it done. Versus the prophet — baby boomers — are more like sit in the tower and talk about how we see eye-to-eye or we don’t. The Gen X’ers don’t actually do that much to culture compared to the prophet and the hero—the millennials and the boomers. [41:52] And the reason is obviously that the prophets create the interior revolution, the heroes create the exterior revolution. And the nomads are just sort of part of the process and they bridge the gap. They don’t actually cause too much changes in the world. Then the heroes, the millennials, and then you have the youngest generation now, this is Gen Z. This is the artist! They’re caring, they’re indecisive, and artists grow up during a crisis. So they’re growing up right now. The previous artists were the silent generation. They grew up during the Great Depression, and they didn’t want to rock the boat. They were conservative, they were silent, just in the background. And the young people today they’re growing up during the crisis so they’ve become sort of withdrawn and sensitive and they’re conservative with their values. They don’t want to risk anything because it’s pretty risky out there! And the Gen Z are gonna grow and be the empathetic mid-lifers, they’re great grandparents — fantastic grandparents! Yeah they don’t really mold the world that much, but they prevent the Millennials from going overboard, because if the Millennials go overboard, the heroes go overboard, we have this very orderly, rigid society! Nazi Germany would be an over-indexing of the hero generation: we’re all on the same team, you’re either with us or you’re against us, strong central planning, no problem if we get rid of our liberties because this is good for everyone. And so they’re willing to make that sacrifice! The artist is a little bit different. They don’t want to be under a strong rule like that! So that’s the four, and interesting throughout history, they just go in that order: prophet, nomad, hero, artist. And each one influences the next, and the constellation — so is a hero old or young? Is an artist old or young? What stage of life are they at? That constellation of the archetypes is how you know what mood we’re in. Yeah that’s a long-winded answer!
Cedric Youngelman [43:55]: I’m really concerned about the Gen Z generation! My children and everyone’s kids growing up during this crisis, this fourth turning — at the peak of it maybe — you know if it was a financial crisis I feel like I could just sweep that under the rug and not really affect that. This COVID crisis is a little more in their face. I read what you wrote about that generation and it rings true! But I don’t want my kids to necessarily be meek or just standing off to the side. Maybe with great advice but not really taking action! The other thing — your background is in writing, communications, and it seems like there’s a lot of references to Hollywood. When we talk about Gen X I think about Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. That kind of archetype. And I wonder too, what if we got a strong individual as a president? Can that change these moments? Or is the president a reflection of the moment? And I’m not trying to get political. Can strong individuals disrupt these generational turnings? And I’ll go one step further: like Satoshi. We start going through the hard times, the good times — whatever the quote is — and a lot of people say we’re in the soft times, but I’m like, But I don’t know, Satoshi’s like the hardest dude out there! Hardest thing out there: man, woman, or group, that put this together and is gonna take us further, maybe into a fifth turning! You get to this later in the article. But can strong people interrupt these things?
Brandon Quittem [45:36]: First about your children and the other Gen Z’s out there — yeah as a generation they’re caring, indecisive and meek. However they’re not all like that! You have a massive influence on your kids! But you just know the gravity wants to pull your kids that way. And if you know that you can sort of steer around it. Also with the artist, they become adults in the first turning, which historically that’s a time of peace, high equality — things are really good! And so they’re gonna hit their 20’s post-crisis, and they’re gonna be potentially in a much better world! So each generation sort of has their trade-offs, and they get the crisis out of the way early! The boomers, they’re all trying to retire right now and they’re gonna find out pretty quickly that they don’t have as much retirement money as they thought they did! So each generation has its own struggles. [46:28] Regarding the strong man, the president. That’s an interesting point! In the fourth turning, we have a strong demand for order, and what that usually manifests as is a very strong president! This is the archetypal big man with a stick. He’s the alpha male, when times are tough, the biggest, strongest guy gets to make the decisions and everyone falls in line. It’s very human! In a sense Trump does display this: he has bravado he’s loud, he’s a bulldog, and so many people say, You know it’s not working! We want a strong president who will just make decisive bold actions! Another thing, interestingly, is during all fourth turnings, what ends up happening is there’s a great champion who leads us out of the dark night! And a great champion is usually an older person who’s in a leadership position — usually a president in the US — and they do the hard things and they rally the troops, and they have incredible support from the populace to vote for them! And that person is the one who makes the hard decisions. What I don’t know is, I don’t think Trump was our great champion. I don’t think Biden will be our great champion. So maybe our next president is the one that actually takes us out of this. And if that’s true, we might have a dark period here for four years, because we want our great champion as soon as possible, because that’s when the mood shifts and we go, Okay we’re rallying around this, we’re gonna make it happen with this guy! And that’s when the change occurs, because you need to get everyone on the same page in order to make these massive changes! And historically war is the only thing that motivates people to make huge changes.
Cedric Youngelman [48:11]: We’ll get to future presidents. I do have a question around that. The anatomy of the fourth turning, so where we’re at now. You wrote, Welcome to winter, a time of fire and ice. The supply of social order is still falling, but the demand for order is steadily rising. Although not required, fourth turnings historically end with total war. This was one of those moments where I put the book down and I went for a long walk. This was the sixth or seventh walk! You talk about how COVID is the thing that will bring us together to get us through the turning, and you question whether it’s a strong enough moment of unison. It doesn’t seem to unify. And you say war is usually that thing, but maybe war is not gonna happen here now and I think I agree because countries are turning inward. They’re no longer pillaging outwardly. But I do think it’s war-like turning inward on their own. My latest thought is that the country that does the best job at feasting inward will then take that superpower outward. Via cyberwar, psychological warfare, information and misinformation warfare. I don’t want to get too dark, but like, where do you think we’re going over the next few years or really ten years, before we get out of this?
Brandon Quittem [49:43]: Yeah I am pretty concerned to be honest! I think just looking, if you zoom way out, the trend is toward totalitarianism, and right now every nation state is playing this game. It’s not like we can point to the Axis of Evil or the rise of Nazi Germany as the “bad guys”. Right now every single nation is grasping for as much power as possible, almost as if they can’t help themselves, and so it is pretty concerning. I’ll get to what I think is gonna happen, but before that let’s do a morphology of a crisis. What are the stages in each 22-year fourth turning period. So all fourth turnings start with a catalyst. And this is a defining moment, it’s very clearly a before and an after moment, and this would be the ‘08/’09 financial crisis. After the dot-com leading up to ’08, not much had changed all through the 90’s up to ’08, and then all of a sudden, everything changed in ‘08! This is Occupy Wall Street, you see Obama runs on Hope and Change. Prior to that it’s like, Let’s keep doing what we’re doing! After ’08 it’s like, We gotta make a change! So that was the catalyst. Then there’s a regeneracy period, and that’s realizing that, Okay, times have changed. Now there’s a new force, a counter-entropy that gets people involved and active. This is things like Bernie Sanders, the rise of Democratic Socialism, Social Justice Warriors, this whole new counter-culture to the previous culture. This is mostly led by the populist Left that’s leading the culture of the day. They define the rules of engagement from a culture standpoint, and I would say that around 2012 we were firmly in that! Then the next point is the climax. This is the big one. This is bombs being dropped on Pearl Harbor, this is Paul Revere shots heard around the world, rallying the troops, this is the Civil War, etc. Typically — in March I thought the climax was going to be COVID. I thought it was going to be this big thing, it sucks, everyone rallies together and we get through it and that marks the climax. But now like you already alluded to I think it’s just ripping us apart. It’s become this hyper-politicized thing. I don’t even know what’s going on there! It just feels like a power grab at this point. So I think it’s just gonna be fuel that leads to a larger crisis. Typical in fourth turning, it’s not like it’s one thing and everything’s normal. One small crisis leads to another crisis which leads to another crisis until the whole thing topples over. So I see COVID as the starting point for ramping up towards the real climax, and after the climax there’s a resolution period where the scores have been set, we rearrange all the pieces, and we start on a new path. But how is this gonna play out? I think there’s four things: (1) it could be COVID. I don’t think so, I don’t think it’s big enough. (2) We could have total war, but it seems like no one is in the mood for total war. However maybe in the next five years we have these new central bank digital currencies, China is trying to assert their dominance, maybe China oversteps their bounds and the US and China get into a little tango. That’s possible. (3) It could also be a black swan event, something unpredictable. Terrorism, some sort of weird hack that causes something to happen. (4) Or it could be civil war. And sadly I think this is the most likely! There’s a lot of stats that back this up, things like 50% of people said that they think that violence is justified in order to get your political war passed. 26% of people said that they’re willing to have their state peacefully secede from the United States. So there’s all these little metrics: the divide between the cities and the rural people, individualists versus collectivists. There’s all these tension points. They’re getting worse, they’re not getting better. The politicians are actually using this to their own advantage! Then you combine it with the media — everything’s feeding on this division! And what’s scary is that all it takes is one little spark and you could see some really really nasty stuff around our country. Now it will not be a North vs. South clearly defined thing. It will be this confusing quagmire of you don’t know who’s who, you have the separatists over there and the group over there and weird flag this and that, martial law, transportation’s bad, food’s disrupted. Just a general feeling of unsettledness, and various people will be freedom fighters and whatever that looks like. Weird militias coming around. That’s what I sadly think is the most likely — I hope we don’t reach that! You mention Bitcoin as the fifth turning. And so I do think there’s a chance here! Bitcoin is unique. It sort of serves as an institution. And what we need now are strong institutions. So what if Bitcoin was this thing that we could architect around? It’s fair, it sort of appeases the Millennials because it’s fair — it’s not twelve old white guys running the money. It is a network, it’s a community. So theoretically that could be the thing! What it does uniquely is — we’re also in a bad economic situation as well as all this social unrest. So Bitcoin is sort of this life raft. You can get on the life raft instead of sinking on the Titanic. And the quicker we get people on this life raft, the fewer people are gonna be desperate and flailing and backed against a corner which is when people become violent. Rational people don’t become violent but if push comes to shove, normal rational people do become violent! I think Bitcoin both at the individual level — because you don’t have to go down with the ship financially — and at the society level, whether that’s a corporation protecting their person in power, whether that’s Iran getting around sanctions and monetizing their energy assets in order to pay for imports in Bitcoin because the US doesn’t let them play in the financial system, or another nation that might just wanna not be under a Dollar hegemony. Or their country’s going bad and they have nothing to lose and they just YOLO into Bitcoin! I think all of these things just reduce the amount of suffering, and reduce the amount of people getting desperate. And so I’m optimistic that Bitcoin could actually be the institution we need right now!
Cedric Youngelman [56:28]: Yeah! Bitcoin as an institution makes me think of Nick Szabo’s piece on social scalability. I thought that that was fascinating! Let’s look at social media, though. I’m curious if you think social media is a force for good or not? And let’s start with the notion that’s stipulated that social media decentralizes information and news and communications and that’s been a force for good. I think that’s kind of clear to a certain extent. I mean there’s some negative externalities. But let’s look at this question through maybe like the 2024 presidential election, and I’ll frame it like this: social media I think will eventually get compromised, not that the three networks ABC, NBC, CBS were compromised, but that they were centralized. You’ve got one narrative the country was feasting on one thing, one water cooler conversation. Social media is that now, but you’re really talking about two algorithms. Let’s look at 2024 and what if the election was like Jack Dorsey versus Mark Zuckerberg?
Brandon Quittem [57:31]: That could totally happen! It seems like we’re in a situation where the most popular person wins. I think Trump sort of expanded the Overton window, meaning, what’s the conversation that we’re comfortable having? People think we have this choice, we can choose — anyone can become president! Not really! There’s this extremely narrow band between the Left and the Right, and that’s who we’re actually voting on. But Trump is this external figure that didn’t really fit into the band, and he showed that it was possible to strong-arm your way in without playing by the traditional rules. So I think going forward — Joe Biden is obviously a president of the 90's — he doesn’t represent anything new or forward-leaning, or of this new paradigm. But I think 2024 like you mentioned — Dorsey versus Zuckerberg — I think that type of thing is possible! The tech companies are becoming more powerful than most countries. They’re now starting to play the game with the big boys! They want to launch Libra — they kind of got put in their place with that. But they’re getting old now. They’re getting powerful. So I think that’s very real. You mentioned the “algorithm”, and I think we’re gonna see a lot more algorithms running our lives — they already do! But it’s gonna get way more sophisticated! Especially when you see these central bank digital currencies being released. What that does is it gives — well the Fed and the government already are merging — so central banks and states are the same from now on. We’re just accepting that. And what they’re gonna do is give us all central bank digital currencies — our phone is our money. Maybe they’ll try to put chips in us, hopefully not! What it does is it gives them granular control over individuals in the economy. They can say, You have too much money on the sideline, I’m gonna give you 10% negative interest rates until you put that money to work, then they can give your kid as student maybe 5% interest to encourage savings. And so that just is too much power for the state, and the central banking class loves it! They think that they’re the smartest guys in the room and they think that they can manage the economy from the ivory tower. When in reality the economy is a complex beast that no one can manage! So Bitcoin is sort of saying, We don’t want humans to politicize the money — we know where that gets us! It works for a short period of time then it gets corrupted, and we suffer. So Bitcoin is trying to be the thousand-year institution. The non-politicized monetary base which we can then architect around. I have no clue what 2024 will bring! What I would say is: forget everything you thought. Don’t look backwards! Anything is on the table looking forward! So in this period of high volatility I think it’s smart for individuals to really do some assessment on your own life: where are your vulnerabilities, minimize your downside risk, essentially make yourself and your family antifragile, so that in the worst case scenario you’re protected! That could be things like owning a second passport, owning Bitcoin, having a second job, not be over-leveraged with debt — all these different things. Minimize your downside risk and just plan ahead. It’s too hard to say, but it will be volatile, and I think increasingly so for at least five years!
Cedric Youngelman [1:00:54]: Right. I think best case scenario for 2024 and the battle the country really wants to have is Andrew Yang versus Cynthia Loomis! I think that would be stellar! In terms of the Civil War, if you compare the American project to maybe a network—like you have the Bitcoin network —is the American project or the American network important? And would a Civil War — a hard fork — be a positive thing for the American project and the world?
Brandon Quittem [1:01:23]: That’s an interesting question! I would say that the American experiment is founded on principles that were way ahead of their time, and very clearly the best strategy for organizing at the time. What I don’t know is, do we need these epically strong central states anymore? And I’m gonna draw on the Sovereign Individual thesis a little bit here, which is that, for the Industrial Revolution period, whoever had the biggest army was the leader of the world. Previously this was the Navy — like the sun never sets on the British Empire because they had the strongest Navy. Then it became America’s world after World War II. We’ve gotten nukes and aircraft carriers guarding the oceans. Essentially what was rewarded was the state which had the largest capacity for violence! However, in the Information Age, which we’re obviously in now, the whole logic of violence shifted! Now a big state’s actually not that important, because having a big state is very expensive to maintain. Instead the defense — or the little guy — has the advantage in the Information Age. And that’s through things like cryptography and Bitcoin! These are asymmetric technologies that benefit defense versus offense. And so in that world, I see — bringing it back to America — I see the fracture of America actually as a long-term positive thing! I would like to see smaller states with more control. How are you gonna govern Chicago and Western Illinois? They have nothing in common! And so why would the state do that? Maybe you should fracture it a little bit more! Why would D.C. make the same law that applies to cowboys in Wyoming and people who live in Silicon Valley? They don’t have anything in common! And so I think we should fracture governance into the smallest unit possible. Now I don’t know how practically a secession would go or a fracturing of the US — historically they’ve been very violent! [1:03:25] You know, Catalonia tried to break away from Greater Spain. That was met with pretty aggressive response from the central government in Spain. So I don’t know how it will work out. In the long run it’s better, but nobody wants to give up their land!
Cedric Youngelman [1:03:50]: How do you protect yourself during this fourth turning? So people can gird themselves before we can move to some more optimistic topics. Obviously protect your wealth with Bitcoin, minimize your debt, live below your means, have multiple sources of income, flag theory — we’re gonna have a show with Katie Ananina coming out — so get that second passport, go where you’re treated best, maybe set your business up somewhere else, go have your recreation somewhere else, spend money where it’s cheap, don’t be cancelable, don’t invest in politics du jour, be self-reliant, become technical, become super-literate, do things for yourself, don’t trust, verify, find a community, build your citadel you get into and stay vigilant! But let’s turn to more optimism like, we get through this by hook or crook: what are we looking at in 2030? Is it a Renaissance? Is Bitcoin the biggest part of that?
Brandon Quittem [1:04:55]: So it’s really hard to say from our vantage point. We’re approaching the peak here. And historically in fourth turnings it can resolve in a really positive way or it can just be a tragedy. And I don’t think that story’s been written yet. However I am optimistic because we have Bitcoin! And if we didn’t have Bitcoin I would be extremely pessimistic right now! All trending forces are a centralization of power, and we’re all farmed by our fiat overlords. That’s the trend. And as a personal freedom advocate — I put that freedom as among the highest ideals — that’s pretty scary! But thankfully we do have Bitcoin and Bitcoin is uncompromising! The state cannot do anything to Bitcoin. They can try but it will backfire! And so I believe that’s sort of a moral force for society. It puts restraint on these overreaching governments — it takes a little power away and forces them not to misbehave, because Bitcoiners can leave with the capital and no one can stop people. You can go get another passport. There’s gonna be a tremendous amount of innovation coming out of Bitcoin! And if you shun the innovation, you’re hurting your own country. And if you accept innovation, you’re gonna go into a brighter future! So what I would say is: I’m very bullish on Bitcoiners. I think it’s the best group of people on the planet right now, [it’s] the force that we want to back , the horse we want to ride through the fourth turning as well, and if Bitcoin continues its path — like this year I think things have accelerated — if it continues like it does now, I think Bitcoin has a real shot at turning the world around! We’re gonna go through a dark time no matter what, but the next period, the next journey — if Bitcoin’s a part of this which is seems like it will be — I think we do have a chance for a Renaissance! You get the money sorted and you give people a chance to be more productive, and just that foundational element of fixing the money will have all kinds of downstream effects to improve our planet. From unlocking intellectual capital from people who are locked out of the financial system — they can save their money in Bitcoin — from removing all the time theft from inflation, so normal people can actually save their money in an asset that preserves the fruits of their labor. Capital preservation is what creates society! And right now we’re doing the opposite: we’re hot potatoing our money as quickly as possible! We’re buying just-in-time plastic junk that lasts two weeks then we throw it away. So I think Bitcoin is the thing that we need right now in society. It’s perfect timing for that pendulum to swing the other way. So if that occurs, yeah we could call the next cycle the Bitcoin Renaissance, which is a phrase that Brady says in Bitcoin, also a co-worker of mine at Swan, likes to mention. And I think that’s very true! Now what I don’t know is, will it happen fast, or are we talking a couple of generations until we see this Renaissance? And that’s really hard for me to predict! Again time is not linear! No matter what we predict now will be wrong! And in ten years we’ll look back and the world will be very different. Again I don’t think it’s predictable, but keep fighting for Bitcoin — that’s the only thing I can think of that keeps me sane during the process — like Nic Carter said, you’re building the cathedral one brick at a time, and we might not even be alive by the time it’s complete! That pursuit — something greater than ourselves — that’s a force that’s needed right now! It gives me purpose! It gives many other people purpose. There’s nothing to do besides brick by brick!
Cedric Youngelman [1:08:48]: A Bitcoin Renaissance. That’s beautiful! You know, that’s the future and maybe tomorrow. But like, how could people use mushrooms today to help during these turbulent confusing COVID times? Mentally and physically how can it help them?
Brandon Quittem: The mushroom fungal kingdom is very diverse. There’s lots of ways mushrooms can help. They’re good for your yard, healing the environment, cleaning up pollution, NASA’s experimenting with Mycelium to grow moon bases. You can train the Mycelium to create the shape you want, and Mycelium can actually block radiation! So I see a merging with space travel. Mycelium is gonna really be useful for colonizing Mars — probably start with the moon. That’s a couple ideas! Now at the personal level, this can be through supplements to improve your health. Mushrooms are — the molecules in them are considered adaptogens — you can think of it like it gives your body whatever it needs! If you’re too stressed it will help with that. If you have too much inflammation it will help with that. If you have not enough inflammation it will help with that. It helps your body find homeostasis, equilibrium in the body. They’re great for your immune system, your sleep, your mind, your body, so I would recommend everyone should be taking a mushroom multivitamin. Just a broad spectrum capsule of mushrooms that is fine, it’s not too expensive. And it really helps your body deal with stress and stay healthy. Most people claim these are miracle drugs. I tend to be in that camp! However the science is just catching up. In general, studying health is hard so you’re not gonna find the hardest hitting science on mushrooms yet. But certain compounds like Lion’s Mane has been shown to improve dementia and Alzheimers — very clearly, massive results there. Other ones help with cancer, physical fitness, etc. And then there’s another whole compound of mushrooms—the psychedelic mushrooms. They contain a compound called psilocybin which is very similar to one of our neurotransmitters, seratonin, which regulates mood and several different things in our day to day life. The psilocybin mushrooms are very interesting because they’re great tools for healing and introspection and exploration. I feel very strongly about these compounds because it benefited me in my personal life and thousands of other people. And they’re starting to become legalized in the US. And so what we’re gonna see is psilocybin therapy centers just like you go to see therapist or you go on a retreat or in previous times you’d go on a religious quest or go see the temple or whatever. These things are gonna pop up and they’re gonna be like nature retreats that also involve eating some psilocybin mushrooms! I’m really optimistic about that — the world needs this type of healing. Also people are microdosing these things as sort of a mood enhancer or creativity booster. That’s also very effective. But they are illegal. They’re not for everyone — treat these things with respect. Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer! Do your own research! Don’t trust, verify! All those things apply here! But they’re very important right now. They’re also criminally understudied! So if you’re a budding young person and you’re curious about this stuff, go into mycology! There’s twenty Nobel prizes in mycology yet to be unlocked! It will help us in all of our future challenges and tons that we have right now, so that’s gonna be a big one!
Cedric Youngelman [1:12:40]: Awesome. In terms of doing your own research, you had the great article that you put out in your favorite podcast. It was a lot of homework, trying to dig through that. Highlight three of your favorite non-Bitcoin podcasts! We want people to come to Bitcoin, but we gotta go somewhere else sometimes and see what other people are talking about! What are some of the best podcasts that you’ve heard outside of Bitcoin?
Brandon Quittem: Lately The Portal by Eric Weinstein has been one of my favorites. His whole catalogue is amazing. He sort of has the hard conversations that need to be had, and he doesn’t play by the politically correct rules, and he would be part of the Intellectual dark web if you’ve heard of that. Very heavy, deep conversations — I have to look up tons of words.
Cedric Youngelman: The one with Peter Thiel is great!
Brandon Quittem: Amazing episode!
Cedric Youngelman: I just feel like later on especially when he was talking with his brother, those were amazing episodes. He just beats around the bush with Bitcoin a little bit! Or the root of the problem. You hear about it a little bit on Twitter.
Brandon Quittem: I think you brought up a really good point, and that is Eric Weinstein observes the problem correctly — he has diagnosed the problem — but he does not understand the solution, and it’s staring at him in the face! I’m optimistic that some Bitcoiners will get on there! Another podcast outside of Bitcoin that’s really nice is the Santa Fe Institute podcast called Complexity. It’s about complexity theory and complex systems, it blurs science with data with studying complex systems. And Bitcoin is a complex system! My favorite episodes are the ones that blur biology and ecology with economics. You blur these things with how human civilizations grow and what scaling principles can we take from all human civilizations? That one’s pretty mind bending! I’m just dipping my toes in so I’m no expert there. That’s two. I like Hidden Forces as well, with Demetri Kofinas. I don’t like all his episodes, but I think it’s a great one. I’ve learned a lot from that podcast. My throwaway would be Rogan because I’ve been listening to it for ten years! I’ve sourced more new threads to tease out, new ideas, from that over any other podcast, but I’ve also listened to the most episodes.
Cedric Youngelman: I do want to say, I want to make it clear — I wasn’t talking about Swan, it wasn’t mentioned: you guys are building a powerhouse team there. We did have Yan Pritzker on for #2: Inventing Bitcoin, Building Swan and Leaving Russia. We did have Andrew Edstrom on #14: In Bitcoin We Trust. Towards a more positive outlook on 2020 and what we can trust and have faith in. We spoke to Bitcoin Rabbi a week ago and that’s gonna come out soon. And we do have Cory Klippsten on tomorrow where we’re gonna talk all things Swan and Bitcoin TV. So I don’t want you to think that we’re omitting that! I really wanted to focus on your work! Just like with those other guys, they all had things besides Swan to talk about, which is why we invited them on the show, but you guys are really building quite the dynamic team. I think of you as the secret ninja now. And Cory is like the straight up ninja and we’re gonna try to figure him out tomorrow. I do want to thank Brandon for coming on the pod, and bringing his superpower — taking complex information and turning it into simple actionable intelligence! I’ll turn it to you for parting words and also let everyone know where they could find you?
Brandon Quittem: First of all thanks for having me on, I really enjoyed the conversation! Obviously you prepared and I appreciate that! I think we got a lot of fun things out through those two different threads, you wove them together nicely. Regarding Swan, no problem! Cory will do a better job describing it anyways, but I do have to shill it! We’re building a great team, the customers are growing fast and it’s extremely exciting to be a part of that team! I genuinely am friends with everyone, I will be friends with everyone on that team for a long time! It’s a nice alignment to build a company on the backs of Bitcoin. How could I ask for something cooler than that! And if you’re not familiar with Swan it’s just an Auto-DCA tool. Set it and forget it, and you can auto-withdraw it to cold storage. A humble stack sats platform, we also can handle high volume, but I like to think of it as a normal person’s way to buy Bitcoin! The right way to buy Bitcoin! You can find me on Twitter @bquittem. If any of this resonated with you I’d love to chat, my DMs are always open! Yeah, let’s do this thing!
Cedric Youngelman: Yeah man this has been so great and dope! I really appreciate it! Thank you so much! Peace!