The Newsweek Credibility Matrix

Dorian Nakamoto has vehemently denied being Bitcoin's creator. Did Newsweek act irresponsibly in pursuit of a scoop? Could they have known, prior to the denials, that Dorian wasn't Satoshi?

(Skip the intro and take me to the matrix.)

Newsweek returned to print on March 6th with a genuine bombshell: it had found the real Satoshi Nakamoto. The article, written by Leah McGrath Goodman, claimed to have accomplished what previous articles from The New Yorker, Fast Company and other publications had failed to do. Its claims were stunning: after years of searches from very capable journalists, Newsweek claimed that the secretive person who used the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto had, in fact, not used a pseudonym at all – his name was Satoshi Nakamoto. Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto.

On its surface, it sounded too good to be true. Bitcoin's creator, who had gone to great lengths to anonymize his email, domain and personal information, used his real name as his online username? It seemed unlikely. And there were other signs that something was amiss: Bitcoin required a near-genius level understanding of cryptography and mathematics, as well as a deep knowledge of C++. Dorian's background, while shrounded in mystery due to numerous classified projects, suggested nothing near that level of expertise.

Almost immediately upon its publication, the narrative Goodman had spun began to come apart at the seams. Dorian Nakamoto immediately denied it. The real Satoshi temporarily returned to the internet and also denied it. Four of the sources interviewed for the article – three Bitcoin developers and Dorian's brother – publicly regretted their involvement.

Now, more than a week after the story's publication, it seems clear that Newsweek fingered the wrong man. So the question now turns to Newsweek and the level of irresponsibility they displayed in publishing this at all.

So we ask: could Newsweek have known? Prior to all the denials, prior to Dorian's interview with the AP where he said nonsensical things like "I have never communicated with bitcoins" – could Newsweek have found details that would have suggested that Dorian and Satoshi were different people?

I believe the answer is yes.

To prove it, let's go point-by-point through the inconsistencies with Newsweek's premise – that Dorian was the Bitcoin creator – and the public facts we know about Satoshi Nakamoto.

Factual & Circumstancial Inconsistencies

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
Nakamoto, despite going to great lengths to anonymize his domain, email address and personal information – not even sharing those details with the internal Bitcoin developers – chose to use his middle name and real last name as his online identifier. Perhaps Nakamoto did not initially intend to be anonymous when releasing Bitcoin, or we misjudged his desire to stay anonymous.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and "Satoshi Nakamoto", as presumed all along, is a pseudonym for an anonymous person or persons.

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
The real Satoshi Nakamoto is known to be worth between $500MM and $1B. Dorian's house was foreclosed on, he suffered stroke and has fought prostate cancer. Per the article, "according to his family both he – and they – could really use the money." The money, however, remains untouched. He may have lost access (by losing the private keys). Or perhaps he declines to cash in on his millions for other voluntary reasons.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto. If he was, he would have used the money for his health, house and general happiness.

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

Dorian's first and best language is Japanese, yet he never translated the Bitcoin GUI to that language, instead allowing contributions for Italian, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Lithuanian and Czech. In fact, there is still no Japanese translation.

Dorian did not see a market for Bitcoin in Japan/Japanese.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto. In all likelihood, the real Satoshi's native language is English, and he is not fluent in Japanese.

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

In Newsweek, Goodman writes:

"Andresen says Satoshi Nakamoto told him about how long it took him to develop Bitcoin - a span that falls squarely into Dorian S. Nakamoto's job lapse starting in 2001."

In a rare admission of personal detail, Nakamoto himself states in this post that he did not start working on it until 2007.

Maybe he spent those six years thinking about it, but he just didn't start development until 2007. While unemployed for those six years, his only presence on the internet was to occasionally discuss model trains or guns, but not anything related to cryptography, open source code or anything else even tangentially related to Bitcoin – so he must have been thinking.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and Goodman is just outright incorrect that Bitcoin's development falls "squarely" into Dorian's job loss.

He lost his job in 2001 and Bitcoin development didn't start for another six years. Based on the article details and the online posts we can attribute to Dorian, since 2001, Dorian's life has been a series of misfortunes, health problems and a lot of model trains.

He did not, in that time, create Bitcoin.

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

Satoshi's confirmed P2PFoundation account lists his age as 38. Dorian is 64.

Despite Dorian using his real name of "Satoshi Nakamoto", perhaps he is masking his age for his own reasons.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and "Age: 38", like the name "Satoshi Nakamoto" itself, provides no insight into who Bitcoin's author is.

Skill Inconsistencies

It cannot be understated: the Bitcoin protocol is a monumental technological achievement. Regardless of whether the system will prove to be a real-world alternative to fiat currency, the technical achievement is undeniable. It solves several previously unsolved cryptographic problems surrounding "distributed trust" (for example, the Byzantine Generals' Problem) and synthesizes technologies such as public-key cryptography, proof-of-work systems (using SHA-256), peer-to-peer and others. In fact, the protocol is so bulletproof that it led legendary YCombinator founder Paul Graham to believe it was created by a government.

So if one person did indeed create Bitcoin, as Newsweek is theorizing, that creator must not only have a truly world-class understanding of cryptography, but also a deep programming background (the first version was written entirely in C++) and likely an academic background as well, given the impeccable nature of the Bitcoin whitepaper.

Let's take each skill individually:

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

Bitcoin was written in C++, and synthesizing all the complex mathematical ideas into code requires a deep understanding of the language. The article suggests that Dorian worked as a software engineer some time between Sept. 11, 2001 and the end of 2001, but nowhere else does it suggest he is a developer or programmer, much less is capable of writing Bitcoin v0.1 in C++.

Dorian is an expert at C++ but honed his craft in secrecy. "Nakamoto worked as a software engineer" at the FAA, according to the article, and C++ is a common language. He also may have used it in many of the classified projects he has worked on in the past.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto.

Dorian may know C++ – it's hard to guess since his entire career is largely a mystery – but if he does know the language, like most everyone he does not know it to the advanced degree required to write the Bitcoin v0.1 protocol.

And just a note: this is not meant to disparage Dorian. He may be an incredibly talented physicist and systems engineer, but Bitcoin is such a monumental achievement that Dorian would have to be absolutely at the top of his field (multiple fields, actually) to be able to have produced Bitcoin.

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
Bitcoin required a world-class understanding of cryptography; the creation of Bitcoin has made Satoshi Nakamoto perhaps the world's most renowned cryptographer. There is no evidence that Dorian has a strong understanding of cryptography. Dorian is a world-class cryptographer, but he acquired this knowledge during classified project(s) and therefore cannot discuss it. Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and like you, me and most everyone else...he is not a world-class cryptographer.
Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
The Bitcoin paper is written in the style of an academic research paper. The author must have had at least a working knowledge of how to construct such a paper, yet Dorian's history shows no evidence of academia. Dorian perhaps learned how to write academic papers during his time at California State Polytechnic University. Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto. He had not been a part of academia for over 35 years. He did not have the requisite knowledge to author such a paper. Someone else – the real Satoshi Nakamoto – wrote it.
Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

The real Satoshi was keenly aware of the history of digital currency, and considered himself part of the community. In his posts he references Digicash, Bit gold, and many others. When referring to Bitcoin – a piece of software he alone wrote – he consistently uses "we" to refer to himself and the community:

"I think this is the first time we're trying a decentralized, non-trust-based system."
"I would be surprised if 10 years from now we're not using electronic currency in some way, now that we know a way to do it that won't inevitably get dumbed down when the trusted third party gets cold feet."

There is no evidence that Dorian has any historical knowledge of digital currency, nor was he ever publicly part of any online community, except the model train community.

Dorian followed the history and community, but simply did not participate online until he created Bitcoin.

Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and never participated in the community. In all likelihood, he has no interest in digital currency (remember, he "has never communicated with Bitcoins").

Prior to using the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym, the real Satoshi was almost certainly a part of the cryptography/digital currency community, and every other previously speculated suspect has been tied to the community in some way.

Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

The original Bitcoin client seeded its connections through the IRC network Freenode. Freenode is well-known as the host to chat rooms for major open source projects (Bitcoin among them). If Dorian was indeed Satoshi, this would suggest he has some affiliation with the open source community in the past – for example, through previously committed code or online conversation.

However, there is no indication that he has ever contributed to any open source projects, is familiar with IRC or Freenode, or has been part of the open source community.

Dorian could perhaps have contributed code under a pseudonym, or maybe he simply didn't contribute to the open source community until Bitcoin, but was still familiar with it. Dorian is not Satoshi Nakamoto, and he has never contributed to any open source projects. Like most people, he has no idea what Freenode is.

Visual Writing Inconsistencies

I will go into a deeper stylistic analysis of the writings of Dorian vs. Satoshi Nakamoto in the next section, but in this section we rely purely on the visual. Note the incredible stylistic differences in the way Dorian constructs internet posts and emails, and the way Satoshi writes.

Dorian Satoshi

Dorian voicing his opinion about how a rail line from Little Tokyo to Sierra Madre should be constructed. December 1, 2009.

Satoshi introducing the Bitcoin whitepaper on the P2PFoundation forum. February 11, 2009.

Dorian Satoshi

Dorian, writing to 0 Scale Trains Magazine in July/August of 2009, which is right around when the first commits were made to the Bitcoin repository (in July 2009 Bitcoin was at v0.1.5 or so).

Note the grammatical error on "manufacturer's" – Dorian never does quite fully grasp how to properly use apostrophes.

Satoshi introducing v0.1 of Bitcoin on the cryptography mailing list.

Dorian Satoshi

Dorian's reviews on Amazon.

Satoshi explaining how Bitcoin solves the Byzantine Generals' Problem.

Dorian Satoshi

Dorian writing on a gun forum. I had a hard time believing it was him, but the email address does match up with the previous letter regarding the Tokyo City rail.

I chose this email from Satoshi because it is (I believe) a private correspondence between himself and Dustin Trammell. Even in a note that will be seen by only two people, he still writes utterly flawless English, and his explanation of hashing power (where he contrasts it to racing) is lucid and easy to comprehend.

All of the sources linked to Dorian share roughly the same style. Dorian misuses apostrophes, confuses "it's" and "its", misspells words and applies capitalization seemingly at random. Most individual sources by Dorian have more spelling and grammatical errors than the totality of writing that we have from the real Satoshi Nakamoto.

So with that in mind, we move to a deeper analysis of the writing.

Writing Inconsistencies

Thirteen (13) forum posts, reviews or emails have been linked to Dorian Nakamoto. Satoshi, over the course of three years, posted 539 times on the forums.

If Dorian and Satoshi are the same person, any identifiable quirks from Dorian's small sample (13 sources) should exist in Satoshi's absolutely enormous sample (539). Newsweek believes they are the same person, after all, and if someone does something multiple times in 13 posts, the odds are high that they would repeat that pattern in a sample that is 41 times larger.

Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

Dorian: capitalizes 'I' 13 times out of 32 uses for 40%.

Forty percent. He properly capitalizes it less than half of the time.

Satoshi goes 282 for 282 for 100%. The only explanation is that Dorian stops caring about using perfect English when Bitcoin is not involved. Dorian and Satoshi are different people with different writing styles. This, in particular, seems damning. Satoshi's English is uniformly perfect, even in private emails - the idea that he would completely abandon grammar over 50% of the time when not writing about Bitcoin is absurd.
Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
In Dorian's writing, the first letter after a period is capitalized 35% of the time (20 out of 57). It is lowercase 65% of the time. After a period, 94.8% of the letters were capitalized (1216 out of 1282), and most of the remaining 5.2% are instances where the first word is a variable or username, and thus should not be capitalized. Dorian completely ignores the rules of grammar when not writing as the Bitcoin creator.

Dorian and Satoshi are different people with different writing styles.

It's no clearer than in this statistic. Dorian uses lowercase after a period over 50% of the time, and this is from sample data that includes two letters that were re-published for a column, and likely edited in the process. Satoshi, meanwhile, is utterly meticulous about capitalization including the fact that he established critical capitalization rules for Bitcoin – "Bitcoin" is the network and protocol, "bitcoin" is the unit of measure.

Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
Dorian: abbreviates "meg" for megabyte in his camera review: "I just bought a refurbished canon A590 digital 8.0 meg."

As several people correctly pointed out, Dorian is referring to megapixels and not megabytes.

Satoshi uses the abbreviation "meg" exactly zero times, but does abbreviate megabyte as "MB" seven times over his 539 posts. He also consistently uses "KB" and "GB" rather than the similar "gigs".

  • "...slower than around 15KB per sec..."
  • "...After 250KB is sold, it goes up to 0.02..."
  • "...It's intended that the time is amortised if you were hashing many KB or MB of data..."
  • Perhaps Satoshi uses the proper "MB" in technical discussions but does not bother in less formal venues. Satoshi and Dorian are different people with different writing styles.
    Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

    Dorian: uses "et al" twice in 13 sources

    "I’m really tired of having the JACL, et al. requesting or getting $100K to millions in government funds"
    "...theives[sic]/criminals from area of east LA et. al must be also put in place..."

    Satoshi uses "et al" zero times, choosing instead the similar "etc" five different times.

    "There's also kids putting it on their parent's power bill, employees their employer, botnets, etc."
    "The design supports a tremendous variety of possible transaction types that I designed years ago. Escrow transactions, bonded contracts, third party arbitration, multi-party signature, etc."

    It could be coincidence that Dorian used "et al" twice in thirteen posts while Satoshi did not use it at all in 539.

    Dorian and Satoshi are different people with different writing styles.

    Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

    Dorian: uses multiple exclamation points ("!!") on four occasions.

    Loved it!!! Excellent product, Experdited mailing
    6. just go buy it!!!
    it's sight radius is ~ 8.75" so add 6" to dat!!!
    sei nicht kaufen das merkur blade!!!

    Satoshi: zero in 539 posts. Dozens of exclamation points, not a single "!!".

    Dorian uses them mostly in Amazon reviews, so perhaps that level of exuberance simply isn't present in his love of Bitcoin. Dorian and Satoshi are different people with different writing styles.
    Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...

    Dorian: uses abbreviations "u", "r", "c" around a dozen times

    of course, if u bump the mirror, it needs a little adjustment but that is expected.
    so, for longer barrel for your GSP, u must move one or both of the sight closer.
    if u r interested in longer barrel for the GSP, contact me
    Unsurprisingly, Satoshi never uses this shorthand. Perhaps the shorthand is reserved for informal, non-Bitcoin related discussion. Dorian and Satoshi are different people with different writing styles.
    Dorian Pattern Satoshi Inconsistency If Newsweek is right... If Newsweek is wrong...
    Dorian writes "can only get about 12 - 15 shaves".

    Satoshi doesn't ever use a space to separate ranges with a dash, despite using numerical ranges 15 times in 539 posts.

    "...did it speed up after 10-20 minutes when the next block broadcast..."
    "...of 4000 blocks from around 74000-78000. This is excluding the block..."
    "...Exit codes can only be 0-255 on unix, so it's abs(code)%256..."
    "...They usually take about 6-8 parameters and a lot of testing to..."
    "...said your friend was getting 1400-1600 khash/s, so it was getting CPU..."
    Dorian only uses a range once in his 13 sources, so perhaps this is an anomaly. Dorian and Satoshi are different people with different writing styles. If Dorian wrote a range like that once, you would think in one of the fifteen ranges he posted on the forums he would separate the dash with a space.

    Profiling Inconsistencies

    We know that Dorian Nakamoto is a 64-year-old Japanese man who moved to the U.S. when he was 10. English is his second language.

    There are several turns-of-phrase that Satoshi uses throughout his 539 forum posts that seem largely out-of-character for an older man for whom English is not native.

    Quote or pattern

    Use of WTF and AFAIK in the same message

    Of all the sentences Satoshi Nakamoto has ever written, I would identify this one as the "Most Unlikely To Be Written By A 64-Year-Old Japanese Man".

    WTF? How did we get on that? AFAIK, the only e-mail is if you tell the forum to do notifications, and I guess the wiki registration. I'd consider turning off the forum notification e-mails, I don't know why we have that. (Source)

    Use of 'sweet'

    I don't know the etymology of "sweet" when used as an exclamation is, but it makes me chuckle to think of Dorian sitting at his computer and typing this sentence.

    Sweet, I was looking for a group like that on Usenet at one point to see what I would use if I needed, and nothing really fit. I'm sure Google groups is a lot easier to post to. (Source)

    Use of 'OP' and '+1'

    These two terms are common in the realm of internet forums (Reddit and 4Chan come to mind with respect to "OP"), but are relatively uncommon anywhere else. They suggest that the real Satoshi had a fairly extensive background in participating in internet discussions. This is not to say that Dorian did not have a similar background, but the only posts we've found officially linked to Dorian do not demonstrate that kind of experience.

    +1 theymos. Don't use this patch, it'll make you incompatible with the network, to your own detriment.
    The OP's example of listtransactions [count=10] [txid] seems to imply and it would be very easy for programmers to assume that if they pass in the last txid of the previous call to listtransactions, they will never see the same transaction more than once, which is not the case.
    On the OP's question, it's a good feature, but the question is, how would we word it so people don't expect to get something after that specific amount of time?
    What the OP described is called "cornering the market". When someone tries to buy all the world's supply of a scarce asset, the more they buy the higher the price goes. At some point, it gets too expensive for them to buy any more. It's great for the people who owned it beforehand because they get to sell it to the corner at crazy high prices. As the price keeps going up and up, some people keep holding out for yet higher prices and refuse to sell.

    Use of 'kinda'

    Again, could a 64-year-old non-native English speaker use 'kinda'? Maybe! But I consider it enough of a colloquial mutation of correct English that it would be unlikely for a non-native speaker to default to that word.

    I guess that would be kinda annoying for web interfaces that would rather format it into html columns though.
    Yeah, the other stealth stuff would be kinda pointless if it's always the same port number.


    If Newsweek did proper due diligence, all of this information should have been available to them prior to their publication of the article. Perhaps they were aware and still chose to publish.

    In their defense, each inconsistency – taken independently – is not damning to their premise that Dorian created Bitcoin. All of them have potentially plausible explanations.

    However, when taken as a collective, as each shaky explanation is paired with the next, it should have been clear that Dorian was not Satoshi Nakamoto. Or, if not clear, at the very least it should have given them pause prior to publication.

    For the sake of clarity, here are the two choices Newsweek was likely presented with during the course of their research.

    Possibility 1: Dorian created Bitcoin

    Dorian Nakamoto is Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin. He is a world-class mathematician and cryptographer, despite having shown no traces of these skills in his professional or internet history. He is a deeply private man who anonymized his entire existence with respect to Bitcoin, except chose to use his real name as his internet handle. In every post, review and email he wrote under his real name, Dorian Nakamoto, he declined to employ the most basic English grammar – but when writing hundreds of posts about Bitcoin under the "Satoshi" name, he has completely flawless English. During the three years when he was actively developing Bitcoin, he was also completely devoted to model trains. He's a 64-year-old Japanese man who uses "WTF", "AFAIK", and internet slang like "OP" and "+1". He is a billionaire, but despite his health problems and enormous family (5+ children, several siblings), he chooses not to use the money.

    Possibility 2: Dorian did not create Bitcoin

    Dorian Nakamoto is not Satoshi Nakamoto. He did not create Bitcoin. Newsweek is incorrect.

    Newsweek chose "Possibility 1" and published the feature.

    So the question now becomes: how could Newsweek have reasonably examined these two scenarios and believed not only that "Possibly 1" was plausible, but that they would stake their reputation on its veracity?