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A Headline In Search Of A Report: Media FUD Continues

You may not be one of the 793 subscribers to MERLtech news (it stands for monitoring, evaluation, research and learning) – but you might have heard of a recent report published by the website, which has been cited extensively over the last few days as further evidence that blockchain technology is worthless.

MarketWatch declared that “Blockchain companies go silent when their tech promises fail,” while Computerworld questioned “Blockchain: What’s it good for?” and surmised “Absolutely nothing, report finds.” Even our good friends at Crypto Slate were foxed, noting that “Blockchain investors lose billions to projects with no evidence.”

The study, however, is not a report. The study is not even a study. The study is, in fact, a blog post.


FUD Is Where You Find It

At the heart of the assertion is that a couple of folks at USAID, a branch of the US Federal Government, “set out eagerly to find a blockchain case study to examine” using that time-honored technique, “internet searches”. 

The authors declared that they could not find such an example from ANY of the 43 projects they discovered online, despite “reaching out directly to several blockchain firms” .

They also explained that not one of those they attempted to contact “was willing to share data on program results, MERL processes, or adaptive management”.

They deduced from this that “the real value of blockchain wasn’t the application of the technology itself, but rather as an impetus to question what we do, why we do it, and how we could do it better.” Narcissus would have had a field day with that one.

In the comments section of the blog, several folks requested a copy of the report; Linda Raftree of MERLtech notes that “I communicated with the authors and they’ve told me that the blog post above IS the report — which makes sense since they weren’t able to find examples of good practices and learning to write about, which was their goal in embarking on the research.”

Aliens who look exactly like humans live among us: there’s no proof, but how could there be!!?

She does herself more credit when she explains the initial media attention, and that “the “Futurism” article and its headline (“Out of 43 Start Ups, 0 Have Delivered Products” ) do not accurately reflect the point of the post.”

The point?

A study is usually grounded in science. Facts are the author’s friend when claiming to have unearthed a scientific truth. The trio of (doubtless well-meaning) MERL practitioners appear to have had a sincere intention to question blockchain as a solution in certain specific circumstances; however, without clearly defining their parameters, success measurements, or indeed any non-anecdotal methodology at all, it’s not much more than a hazy set of laypersons’ musings.

Reporting on a study which presents nothing but anecdotal evidence, based entirely on “internet searches”, and devoid of any detail which could controvert its findings, the independent observer is left wondering why any self-respecting media outlet would pick up the story.



That’s why.

The author is invested in digital assets.

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