There's a lot of snickering on Twitter today about a Bloomberg poll that showed "just" 42 percent of people surveyed nationally correctly knew Bitcoin was a virtual currency. In fact, 6 percent of respondents thought it was an Xbox game or an iPhone app.
But, hold on. Isn't the fact that 42 percent of people know what this new, still-emerging and admittedly little understood currency is cause for praise, not worry?
A 42-percent recognition rate is pretty high, considering the novelty of Bitcoin. Hell, Americans are notoriously short on information, despite the proliferation of devices and data at their fingertips. In 2011, Newsweek had Americans take the test that immigrants undergo as part of citizenship. Twenty-nine percent didn't know the name of our vice president. Forty-four percent didn't know what the Bill of Rights is. As the Supreme Court was deciding whether Obamacare was actually constitutional, FindLaw.com polled Americans and found that only 34 percent of citizens could name even one member of the high court.
But why do people think it might be an iPhone app or a video game? Well, because there were only three options in the poll, which talked with 1,004 American adults, over age 18. The first was virtual currency, the last was "not sure," and the two others were -- wait for it -- an Xbox game and an iPhone app. So, it's not that people actually think it's a game or phone. They really don't know, and, presumably, didn't want to admit that so they checked the box on something plausible. (It is a sad trait that we humans tend to hide our ignorance, rather than try to eradicate it through education.)
So, instead of snark, the backers of Bitcoin should be throwing confetti. We know who you are, at least as much as we know Joe Biden.