Practical business ethics: when is it appropriate to disclose one's vested interests?

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Seattle, Nov 18, 2022.

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  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    No, it's not false. You harassed me to tell you if I had any vested interests or not. Now you are merely saying that is unethical if you have vested interests not to state them. I agree with the latter, as I have always done despite your misrepresentations, and I continue to not kowtow to the harassment to provide the former. Do you get it yet? I suspect you still don't.
    I didn't call you stupid. I asked if you were really as stupid as that. Are you? You seem to miss the obvious difference, so I thought I'd ask. To wit:
    Exchemist had no issue in identifying it, so why can't you?
    To break it down for you:
    1. It is ethical to disclose the vested interests you have when promoting something.
    2. You should disclose whether or not you have any vested interests.

    1. says that IF they have any vested interests then the ethical course would be to disclose - i.e. the result is only a disclosure if it is a positive disclosure of a vested interest. There is no need under this to disclose the absence of vested interests, or to disclose anything unless promoting - and "promoting" needs to be more than just expressing a casual opinion. At least in my view. Or maybe you want everyone disclosing vested interests before expressing opinions.

    2. somewhat different, in that it is an insistence (through means such as continued harassment, for example) on disclosure of having no vested interests, if that is the case.

    Do you yet see the difference? Or is it still beyond your grasp?
    After all what? After you've changed the position you're taking?
    I haven't disclosed whether I have or not, and I am not kowtowing to your harassment, out of principle, that I disclose whether I do or not. Now, it is up to you whether, having hopefully understood the distinction above, you believe I am acting in good faith and ethically, or not. If you don't, well, that's on you, not me.
    I'll let you know if and when I ever "promote" Bitcoin to the level I feel warrants such disclosure. I have opinions, as I do on SpaceX, on Star Trek etc. Your standard would require everyone having an opinion to make such a disclosure. That's why it's nonsense.
    Yes, and it is a very different position than just stating that it is ethical to disclose vested interests. Eyes open to the difference yet?
    You did ask, and I am not answering, as I did not then, because it is/was not relevant to the points I made. I am not "promoting Bitcoin" in a manner that warrants it, and you have yet to demonstrate in any way that I have. Otherwise, as Tiassa highlighted to you, and as I have done in the past, that your standard requires anyone having an opinion on anything to disclose whether or not they have a vested interest.
    It would James. I have never disagreed with that. It would also depend on what "promoting Bitcoin" entailed, as, so far, your standard of "promotion" is having a positive opinion of it. Like with SpaceX, or Star Trek. Or bananas. You have yet to show anything I have said warrants falling under this ethical duty.
    I'm not answering one way or the other out of principle. Because your standard is nonsense, as explained multiple times and which remains unaddressed. And because there is a difference between someone choosing to declare a vested interest, and someone being harassed to answer whether they have one or not. But you seem to be blind to this difference.
    And I am also not sharing an opinion with you to make you "rest easy" or not about what I say. You either accept it on its merits or you don't. For all you bang on about ad hominems you still can't get past that elephant in the room, can you.

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    You haven't shown anything that warrants the level of "promoting Bitcoin" for ethical consideration. You've flustered and blustered about it, as if having a positive opinion alone warrants it. A nonsense standard. And as to refusing to answer, that is out of principle to highlight your ongoing harassment about it.
    Simply put, you failed to really counter any points made about Bitcoin at the time, you don't understand it, you can't see why people have a positive opinion, so you assume, or at least look for, an alterior motive. That's all about you, James.
    You have. I have highlighted above when you have been so. So please stop lying.
    ???I'm not talking about hypothetical vested interests.??? Where on earth have you dug that from??
    Ah, I see. "in people needing to declare not the vested interests they might have..." Alas this is a misunderstanding on your part. I was referring to your standard requiring people to declare interests they might have (since I don't know whether they do or not, "might" is the correct word).
    Harassment is a means of trying to impose your will upon the other person.
    You're (a) suggesting a nonsense standard that you haven't yet supported, that would require anyone with an opinion to declare whether they have a vested interest or not, and (b) you've been harassing me to disclose. It's not a gun, no, but it's not exactly "take it or leave it", is it.
    So you say. The relevance of his criticism of your standard is quite clear, even if you take offence at his examples. And the criticisms remain unaddressed by you.
    You're now being delusional, I'm afraid. You have switched, from harassment to declare whether I have a vested interest or not, to a general notion that one should ethically declare vested interests if they promote. You can't see that difference, so I guess that's technically not dishonesty, just stupidity on your part. You have imposed, or tried to, through harassment. That much is clear for everyone to see. But then the dishonesty also comes from you still failing to show that anything I have said warrants ethical consideration, beyond being an opinion, the likes of which would see disclosures required for views on Star Trek, or SpaceX, or bananas, while continuing to harass.
    Okay, so you're also blind. And I guess that's deliberate, so that again speaks to your honesty, eh. Ah, well.
    You still don't get it, do you.

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    Seriously, how stupid are you, really? I mean that with all sincerity as I'm not sure I can go much slower.
    I apologise for continuing to not kowtow to your harassment. I apologise for continuing to pick apart your posts to show them for what they are. Sure, my own behaviour isn't beyond reproach, but that doesn't excuse your behaviour, does it.
    You have failed morally. You have made egregious errors here, but remain blinkered to them, seemingly deliberately so, which would be another moral failing, I guess.
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    James, there is a difference between being interested in something and "promoting" it. There is a difference between owning some Bitcoin, stocks, bonds, real estate or anything else and having some "vested interest" that needs to be disclosed. Lumping that in the same category as being "paid to promote" or standing to gain is what is a nonsensical standard.

    I could own some Apple stock and if I thought the latest iphone was the greatest thing since sliced bread I should ethically be able to point out what I liked about the iphone without having to disclose whether I owned Apple stock or not as it would be irrelevant.

    My Apple stock wouldn't go up or down based on anything I said on Sciforums. It's the same with Bitcoin. You've posted that Bitcoin is just "gambling". You could say that about any investment but one generally wouldn't use that terminology. The less you know about something the more likely you are to feel that way though.

    Whether you feel that way or not is also irrelevant but conflating interest in something (anything) with owning something vs being a paid promoter is what is nonsense. You tend to combine owning something into the same category as being a paid promoter. Whether it is or not, it appears to be a disingenuous tacit.

    It's one thing when bots suddenly show up promoting something. It's another when a member that has been here for years is suddenly questioned as to whether they are a paid shill. That's not dissimilar to the Senator McCarthy hearing regarding Communism when everyone was asked "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"

    It's insulting and badgering to continue with that line of questioning and then implying that everyone may not have your elevated sense of ethics. Even you must be chuckling when you write be followed up with now run along Sarkus.

    Why run every thread into the ground? It makes no sense.
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Indeed. So, let us review, briefly, comments from yourself and Sarkus regarding Bitcoin.
    It sure looks to me like you've both been keen to talk up the virtues of Bitcoin. A few times possible downsides have been mentioned, but from Sarkus, in particular, the balance falls on the side of wild enthusiasm.

    I have put statements that I think tend to promote Bitcoin in bold, for your consideration, and for consideration by other readers.

    Readers will decide for themselves whether Sarkus is merely "interested in" Bitcoin or whether he is promoting it. Since he refuses to declare whether he (a) owns and/or (b) sells Bitcoin or (c) is employed in a job in which he trades Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, or some other job connected to Bitcoin, we are left to speculate on whether and to what extent he has a vested interest in promoting Bitcoin.

    I would urge readers to be very wary about being inspired by Sarkus's posts to invest in Bitcoin. It seems more than likely he has an ulterior motive - one that he is keen not disclose. He is angry that somebody is on to him, possibly.
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    So if one is enthusiastic about something they are "promoting" it? If someone is misguided when some scientific subject is concerned are you being "paid to promote" that subject? I guess technically you are since your job (I believe?) is science related.

    Does the level of your salary determine how much you "promote" subjects on this forum? Surely you understand that it makes no difference whether Sarkus has some Bitcoin or not? If everyone on this forum runs out and buys Bitcoin, for example, it make no difference in the price of Bitcoin.

    That's why the question about being a paid promoter appears to be so "odd". It's also unusual since "we" are both long time members and there has been no evidence that we are "paid" to do anything regarding this forum.

    I make comments about economics, business, politics and no one has ever thought that I was being "paid" to promote something. Why is Bitcoin so different?

    You imply that I think it is the best thing since sliced bread simply because I have a mostly favorable view towards it. I feel the same way regarding the stock market, real estate market, the internet, AI, etc. Is the next step to suggest that I'm paid in those areas as well?

    I think you know that is nonsense.
    Last edited: May 23, 2023
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    There comes a point, after you have spent enough time spent quacking like a duck and walking like a duck, that it becomes reasonable for observers to start to speculate that, just maybe, you're a duck.
    I am not paid to post things on sciforums. I am here as a volunteer and as somebody who is interested in some of the discussions here. Moreover, there's next to no prospect that I will ever gain any personal financial benefit from posting anything to sciforums.

    So, no, I'm not being paid to promote science on sciforums.

    (See how easy it was for me to answer your question? Compare how difficult it apparently is for Sarkus to answer the same question regarding his posts on Bitcoin. Why is that?)
    Probably, but only insofar as my salary affects my capacity to afford to pay for an internet connection and to spend time away from paid work to post things that I don't get paid for on the internet.
    It makes a difference.
    Wrong. Sarkus will happily educate you on supply and demand if you ask him.
  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I don't need educating on supply and demand but maybe you do?
  10. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    You are making an unwarranted assumption in saying Sarkus finds it "difficult" to answer your - somewhat impertinent - question to him. The rest of us can see it's not difficult for him. He considers the question out of order and refuses to answer on principle, that's all. He's even told you that. (While admittedly I might not feel I would have to make a point of principle out of a point like this, he's apparently in a bit of a strop with you for other reasons, so.... QED.) It's not, er hard.

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    As for supply and demand, the obvious point is there are so few readers on this moribund forum that their collective purchasing power is the square root of fuck-all. So it would make so sense for a paid promoter to focus his or her efforts here, of all places, if the intention was to move the price. Again, it's not hard.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    I have. Yet here we are.

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    At some point a line in the sand has to be drawn. As for "strop", not at all. Having a disagreement with someone whose posts I find to be pervasive with the dishonesty that, because of their position, goes unchecked, is not what I would consider a strop. Anymore than any other argument, that is.

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    As it is, this particular point of principle is worthy of discussion.
    To me it boils down, at least in part, to whether one is willing to communicate in good faith. If one is, one leaves it to the other to disclose or not, assuming that they are capable of acting as ethics might suggest. If not, one harasses and insists upon disclosure: "I don't think we need to wait to catch a criminal "red handed" before enquiring as to whether a crime might have occurred." Is this someone who seems willing to take people as acting in good faith until proven otherwise?
    I think you meant "no sense".

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    Last edited: May 23, 2023
  12. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Yes, let's... taking the parts you've presumably bolded as being indicative of "promotion"
    • "All you need is access to the internet, a bank account, and some suitable ID." - Is this not factually correct? And this is in response to someone who was already thinking of buying, and had wanted to, but thought the process difficult.
    • "... and then you can have your fun." - wow, scraping the barrel much, JamesR? Again, this was in reply to someone already looking to buy, and thinking the process difficult. Of course, you can feel free to take things out of context.
    • "... Alternatively you are free to take your coins from the exchange's wallet and put them in your own." - And this is promoting cryptocurrencies... how, exactly? This is no more promoting them than saying that one is free to take money out of their fiat bank account and store it as cash. And you specifically think saying "you are free to" is promotion??? It's promotion to say that people are free to do things with what they own? Goodness. I never knew.

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    • "My usb device arrived in 3 days - and I don't even have Prime." - again, WOW! It's promoting crypto to say how quickly Amazon deliver products?
    • "So if you store currency at any address your device spits out, it is yours, and unhackable unless someone steals both your device and all the security that goes with it" - again, how is this promotion of cryptocurrency to say that what is in someone's wallet is theirs, and that a cold wallet is unhackable (unless as explained)? These are, again, facts. They're not opinion. They are neutral as to the benefits of crypto, just as saying that the money in your fiat account is yours and safe (unless the bank goes bust and you have more than is guaranteed by the government) is neutral on the benefits of fiat money. Promotion? Good one!
    • "Timing the market is always difficult. But if you have money you're willing to lose for the chance of a significant upside... it's not a bad bit of speculation." - finally you get to something that is actual opinion. But where is the promotion that warrants ethical consideration of disclosing vested interest? Have I indicated which crypto? Have I failed to warn that it is a highly risky investment where you could lose everything? That it is speculation rather than anything more substantial? No, this is just casual opinion, no more than that, and is certainly not the promotion you want to make it out to be.
    • "Many might now think that this is perfect time to buy into crypto for the long-term, but it may still sink further. Plus the global economy means people are steering clear of what they perceive as riskier assets/gambles, and with less disposable income (because of inflation, recession etc) there's no immediate sign of any recovery in the land of cryptos. What the long-term has in store, however, is anyone's guess." - again, somewhat scraping the barrel with this one, JamesR. Yes it is opinion, but it is not promoting. In fact it is doing pretty much the opposite: it sets up that most might think now is an ideal time, and suggests the opposite. This is actually discouragement. And then caps it with the factual observation that the future is anyone's to guess. Promotion? No. Clearly not.
    • "Bitcoin offers a store of value, underpinned by the sentiment and willing of those playing along." - another factual statement. Promotion? No, clearly not. The term "playing along" also suggests that it is all a game, a gamble, which it is at the moment. But promotion? No.
    Right, what else?
    "That doesn't affect Bitcoin..." - well, unfortunately from here on you've inadvertently attributed me to things that Seattle wrote, which I'd like to believe was an honest mistake on your part, but you're stretching my credibility. Anyhoo, I'm not going to respond to them.

    So, is that it?

    Sure, call what I've written "promotion" if you want, JamesR, but it's quite clear from your examples that it is no such thing, at least not to an extent that warrants any form of disclosure, nor the ongoing harassment you're conducting against me, and the fallacious ad hominems that you're happy to fling around. That you have wanted to make such an issue of it speaks only about you.
    I guess compared to the continued denigration by the ignorant, it might seem such. But as you've exampled, it really isn't all that.
    "wild enthusiasm". Lol! You're really just showing your blinkered ignorance and desire to harass. I have been nothing if not balanced. But I guess to someone like you, with such a negative view, anything even approaching a balanced view must be "promoting" it, right?

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    You have, but as shown above, they really don't do what you intend, which rather suggests your standard for being regarded as "promotion" is nonsense.
    Sure, they can speculate or not. Much like with Bitcoin itself. But thanks to you they will be left wondering over something that is entirely irrelevant. Oh, the horror of it!

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    Again, this speaks more about your paranoia, and your inability to have discussions in good faith. I am not angry, just frustrated with you, and your continuing harassment. I have explained adequately why I am not disclosing: a matter of principle, one taken to make a point about this nonsense standard you are insisting upon, insisting not as a moderator but as a poster who is constantly harassing me to do so.

    So, once again, please stop harassing me. I've asked you many times already to stop doing so, yet here you are, unable to stop yourself. As said, this issue is all about you, JamesR.
    Last edited: May 23, 2023
  13. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I did. Fat fingers and poor eyesight are a problem.
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  14. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Out of curiosity, how much do you think would need to flow into Bitcoin to make its price move, oh, I don't know, let's say, upward 1%, which is far less than the typical daily movements you get due to its high volatility at present? What do you think? 10k? 100k? A million, perhaps? Just gauging if you comprehend the scale of the beast. And bear in mind that 1% is not unusual for the fees associated with trading, although can be obtained lower. So just to move the price sufficiently to cover the cost of the trade, say, how much do you think you'd need to see flowing in to Bitcoin? Any idea at all? You could look it up, if you want.
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Anybody who owns Bitcoin stands to benefit if the price goes up. That's what having a vested interest means.

    The question of whether, and under what circumstances, it is ethically appropriate to disclose one's vested interest is a separate matter. However, when there is a perception that one is promoting something that one has a vested interest in, that seems to me like an obvious time when it might be appropriate to disclose.

    We don't know whether Sarkus owns shares a company that makes the hardware for crypto mining. We don't know that because Sarkus refuses to even say whether he has a vested interest of any kind in Bitocin, let alone to start to spell out what his interests (if any) actually are.

    An investment is a vested interest. You literally have money invested in the asset. You care whether your asset performs well or badly, financially. You're motivated to have it perform well. In many cases, you're not in position to directly influence how a speculative investment performs, but that does not remove your vested interest.

    Imagine for a moment, this hypothetical possibility: Sarkus in fact works as a crypocurrency trader. He is paid on commission every time he facilitates a transaction to buy Bitcoin. It is clearly in his interest to have as many people buy Bitcoin as possible. So, he spreads the "good news" about what a wonderful investment Bitcoin is as far and wide as he can. He drops financial advice into social conversations in real life and on social media. He urges people to invest in Bitcoin. He comes to sciforums and tells everybody that Bitcoin is a sound long-term investment, and gives lots of reasons that sound reasonable.

    None of us here know that this hypothetical is false. Why? Because Sarkus refuses stridently to say anything about his vested interests in Bitcoin.

    I have been very clear that I do not stand to benefit financially from posting anything to sciforums. Somebody asked me - just like I asked Sarkus. The difference is, I answered the question in a straightforward, honest way, whereas Sarkus has flatly refused to say even so much as whether he has any interest at all in Bitcoin.

    All that is really required to raise the ethical issue is a reasonable-person perception that one might conceivably benefit in some way. If that's there, there is an ethical duty to disclose any conflict of interest that one actually has.

    It is very easy to say "No, I don't have a vested interest" if you don't, in fact, have a vested interest. A person who refuses to say that and who gets all antsy when asked invites a reasonable level of suspicion that they have something they want to hide.

    In a previous post, I highlighted in bold a number of statements from both Sarkus and Seattle that speak admiringly about Bitcoin and its many virtues. Their posts read as promotion of Bitcoin, so I asked the question. I stand by the opinion that it was not at all unreasonable for me to do that, in circumstances.

    This has nothing to do with moderation. I have not moderated either Sarkus or Seattle regarding anything to do with this (or anything else, lately).

    In the end, this is just standard belligerence from that pair, who often act like a couple of 20 year old males trying to make themselves centre of attention in the pub with their loud "look at me" complaints. Tiassa has coddled and affirmed them, which hasn't helped at all.

    I don't know what's so difficult about this. They will do what they will do. I will have my opinion about the ethics of appropriate disclosure of vested interests. Nobody is holding a gun to somebody's head. Nobody has to agree with me. Your ethics - or lack thereof - are your own business. Speaking for myself, I just usually try to avoid dealing with people whom I perceive to have questionable ethics. That is what I will do in this case, like any other. Everybody else is free to make his or her own personal choices in this, too; nobody has to follow me on this.

    I understand why Sarkus wants to continue to butt heads with me - he's carrying lots of other baggage from previous interactions with me. I understand that Tiassa wants to continue to be a dick, too. But I think that, possibly, the rest of us can move on.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    "Do you have a vested interest in Bitcoin?"
    "No, I don't."

    If, in fact, Sarkus did not have a vested interest in Bitcoin and/or its promotion, it should be easy for him to answer the question. But, instead, we get page after page of juvenile histrionics and excuses. For me, this all tends to reinforce my suspicion that he is trying to hide something. Your opinion seems to be different, which is just fine. I'm entitled to my view; you're entitled to yours.
    With respect, you're just guessing that "that's all". Neither you, nor anybody else here, knows whether Sarkus has a vested interest he should be disclosing, because he flat-out refuses to answer the question.

    Yes, among his excuses are arguments about his faulty "principles". I have explained at some length why those haven't convinced me that it was wrong for me to ask the question, or that it is wrong to expect an actual reply.
    Yes, he's in a strop. He's been this way for months now. It doesn't make him pleasant to talk to, but that's a completely separate issue.
    The idea that a paid promoter can't focus on more than one thing is an unusual one.

    Regardless, why should we have to guess whether Sarkus is a paid promoter of Bitcoin? He could simply tell us.
  17. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    That is, or at least was the point of this thread, is/was it not? I mean, given that the title expressly asks the question of when rather suggests that. However, in your effort to continue harassment, you have, once again, turned it into being all about you and your inability to discuss with people under the assumption of good faith.
    Nothing I have mentioned, discussed, stated, claimed etc, comes close to "promoting", as clearly established by the examples you tried to claim did show it. So, other than by you, there is no perception that I am promoting it. Other than by you, who for some reason simply wants to harass. No one other than you has this nonsense standard of what "promotion" means.
    Heck, you're not even discussing the matter that you raised this thread for, but instead simply asserting a nonsense standard and continuing to harass me with it. You have dismally failed to show that I am promoting it to the degree that warrants any disclosure, and what is more you seem simply incapable of assuming that people are able to discuss in good faith.
    You even stated: "I don't think we need to wait to catch a criminal 'red handed' before enquiring as to whether a crime might have occurred." This is an admission, by you, that you don't accept people as discussing in good faith. And so you harass them to disclose. And you think you are acting morally superior? Your hypocrisy is evident for all to see.
    No, you don't know. Out of principle. Due to your continued harassment. Due to the nonsense of your standard, when you can't even support your claim that I'm "promoting" Bitcoin to a degree whereby one is not otherwise required to disclose whether they have interests in SpaceX, or Star Trek, if they, too, share positive opinions of those.
    WTF??? Do you know how this hypothetical is utter nonsense? Because this is an anonymous forum. I don't know the real names of anyone here. I don't know who they are, so how the fuck would I be able to claim that a certain transaction is due to my so-called "promotion"? You're not only scraping the bottom of the barrel with your efforts to support your nonsense standard, James, but you're now fabricating impossible scenarios as if they are meaningful. You can't be that stupid, can you? No, it's all to continue to harass me to disclose rather than you have to just assume that I am acting in good faith. As said, this is all about you, James, and your failings. These efforts to conjure up excuses just shows how desperate you are.
    And I have explained why, James. To make a point. Yet still you continue with your harassment. You should be ashamed of youself. Maybe you need to take time away from this site and get your head together, because you're really not doing yourself any favours pursuing this.
    That's not what you're doing, though, James, and you can't seem to see the difference, despite others having no difficulty with it whatsoever. You are not leaving it to me to disclose that I have vested interests, but because you are unable to assume that someone discusses in good faith, you are insisting, through your ongoing harassment, that I disclose whether I do or not.
    I've explained why I've refused to say, James. Others have explained to you as well. Yet you continue to harass me. Despite repeated requests for you to stop. So I ask again: please stop harassing me. You're a moderator. You should know better than to continue behaviour that would get regular posters moderated.
    I have gone through those bolded examples of mine (not the ones of Seattle that you misallocated to me), and have shown them to be either factual or merely a positive opinion akin to liking Star Trek, or SpaceX, etc. That they show no "promotion" speaks only to your paranoia, your desire to harass, the nonsense standard you are trying to insist on, and your inability to assume good faith. So here we are.
    Grow up, you miserable little man. You come up with a standard for disclosure that you have failed to support to be anything other than nonsense, you continually harass me with it, try to paint me as being ethically deficient, and you wonder why I'm belligerent?
    This is all about you, James. No one else. You have tried to make a point, and it has backfired. You have effectively stated that you don't assume people to act in good faith, and that is all on you. You have harassed, and continue to, despite now also trying to say that it is up to that person. Dishonest much?
    Your honesty - or lack thereof - is your own business... until it's not, until you spread it across the various threads you partake in. Maybe if you actually acted with the decency, honesty, and moral fibre that you so want others to see you as having, rather than what you actually display, and maybe if you weren't so clearly desperate for validation, this site wouldn't be so moribund.
    Head in the sand, much? Yeah, let's put it all down to the other person rather than their criticisms of your arguments and position. I mean, what's another fallacious ad hominem from you, right. Sheesh.

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  18. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    James R, you do know that if you simply assume that Sarkus, and others, act in good faith, and ethically, then you already have the answer you want?

    You accept that if someone acts ethically then they will declare their vested interest, if they have one.
    Did Sarkus declare any vested interest, before your obvious harassment of him (and yes, it is obviously so)?
    No, he did not.
    If you assume he acts in good faith and ethically, you thus have your answer.

    Your failure to realise that might speak, as Sarkus has pointed out, to you not making such assumptions.
    You pushing him to disclose whether or not he has any vested interests (which is a different matter than simply saying it is ethical for someone to disclose, for if you assume they act ethically then you assume they will disclose without being asked) thus seems to be down to you not believing he is acting ethically.
    On what grounds do you do that?
    It can’t be that he hasn’t declared any vested interests, as that would be a fallacy of begging the question.
    Is it perhaps, as he has highlighted, that you want to live in a police state, where you can interrogate people to confirm their innocence?
    And as such you assume no one is acting ethically or in good faith?
    Recall: “I don't think we need to wait to catch a criminal "red handed" before enquiring as to whether a crime might have occurred” – James R (#59)
    This assumes “criminal” a priori, does it not?
    Guilty unless you say you’re innocent, which is odd in and of itself, as why believe someone if you assume they are guilty.

    And for a moderator to take that position is somewhat troubling for this site.

    A suggestion, therefore: assume a priori that others act both ethically and in good faith.
    Do so, and you have your answer here, do you not?
    Do not do so and the question you are asking is ultimately irrelevant anyway, as you would not believe what he says.
    Which means that you asking really is just for purposes of harassment.
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Do you have a vested interest in defending Sarkus, beyond what is obvious to your readers here? If so, you might consider whether, at this time, it would be appropriate to declare it.

    I have already made the point that it is very easy to say "No, I don't have an interest in Bitcoin or its promotion" when you, in fact, don't have such an interest and are asked the question directly. I note, again, that Sarkus refuses to answer the question.

    You have mentioned good faith. When I was asked whether I had a financial interest in promoting science on sciforums, I gave a good faith answer. I declared my financial interest in sciforums (zero) and I gave some other information about my interest in promoting science. Simple.

    Yet, for Sarkus, this is all incredibly hard. I ask myself: why? You might ask yourself the same question. But maybe you already know the answer?

    At one time, I might have assuming that Sarkus was posting in good faith. That is no longer an assumption I find myself able to make. Look at how angry he is. Look at his numerous personal attacks. Look at how he has repeatedly tried to characterise my reasonable request as "nonsense".

    Methinks he protests too much.

    Do I trust Sarkus to disclose his vested interests? No, I do not. How could I, following this unsavory display from him?

    You may have noticed Sarkus's trait of not being able to stop himself, once he gets himself into any argument. He will keep going forever, even if only to repeat himself again and again. You have bought into his story that I am "harrassing" him. Have you considered that, just possibly, he is harrassing me? (Do you have any concern for my mental wellbeing, here?) I have tried on numerous occasions to bring this discussion to a close. Sarkus is not going to budge from his quite unreasonable and unethical stance, clearly. Nor is he going to convince me that my request is nonsensical or unreasonable (clearly, to any unbiased observer, it is neither). So, a reasonable person would leave it at that - agree to disagree. Sure, it's unsatisfying for both parties involved, but that's life. But Sarkus is not a reasonable person on these things. Sarkus must "win". Sarkus must be right. Sarkus must crush his opponent with personal attacks.

    It sounds like Sarkus may have unloaded to you and talked you into believing I am somehow in the wrong on this. I mean, you asked whether I want to live in a police state? Or interrogate people? Really? That sounds like something Sarkus would say, not you.

    There is no compulsion at work here, other than any moral duty one might feel. There are no guns to anybody's head. Like I said, previously. The only remaining problem here is that Sarkus can't stop himself from just going and going at this.

    You say you're concerned about what my personal opinions mean for this site. On this, they mean nothing. This is not me moderating somebody. This is me expressing my own opinion. There is no compulsion. I have issued no official warning or sanction. Readers will agree or disagree with me, or you, or Sarkus, as they wish.

    I get it that you want to pile on to defend your mate Sarkus, because James R vs Sarkus doesn't seem to you to be a fair battle. Sarkus needs your help, and Tiassa's, and others', apparently. Because, well, gee shucks, James R is just a nasty guy, and Sarkus's actual arguments on the topic don't seem to be enough to "win" this. It's touching, in a way. I'm sure Sarkus appreciates your help.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    You're foaming at the mouth.

    You don't seriously expect me to engage with you while you're in this state, do you?

    Get a grip.
  21. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    James R, unfortunately it is you who is entirely in the wrong in this matter.
    No, I don't have a vested interest in defending Sarkus, beyond wanting you to stop your harassment, for your own benefit, and the benefit of this thread.
    He is clearly quite capable of defending himself.

    You began by not assuming that Sarkus was discussing in good faith or ethically, as if you had you would have gotten the answer you wanted without even needing to ask.
    You continued by harassing him to provide an answer, to which he took a principled stance not to.
    That is not unethical of him, but actually quite the moral thing to do, to stand up to perceived harassment, and what he, and others, saw as an unreasonable standard.

    Your criticism of Sarkus of "not being able to stop himself", and subsequent comments, also very much describes you, unfortunately.
    Which may be why you clash so often these days.
    Is he currently angry?
    I think most would be when anyone, let alone a moderator, harasses them as you have done.
    And it is very much harassment.
    You set up this thread to discuss when it is appropriate to disclose, not to attack an individual (or two) for not abiding by your standard.
    That is harassment by you.
    Not accepting he was acting in good faith means that any answer he gave would not be believed, but you continued to attack him for not abiding by your standard, and not disclosing whether he had a vested interest or not.
    That is harassment by you.
    You continue to call into question his moral and ethical position, yet there is nothing in what he has said that warrants such accusations.

    You claim you have tried to stop this, yet he has asked you many times, has he not, to stop harassing him.
    Have you done so?
    No, you have not.

    And finally, is the standard you are applying to "promotion" sensible?
    Clearly it is not, as Sarkus, Tiassa, exchemist have explained.
    You have tried to example evidence of "promotion" in what Sarkus has said, yet no reasonable person would see those comments as you have done as being "promotion".
    It is an unreasonable standard.
    Unfortunately you just want to dismiss the criticisms as being because people have a dislike of you, or some such.
    Maybe they are seeing it as unreasonable because it actually is.
    And it is.

    I get that you may have a different standard to everyone else, and that is not a problem.
    Surely it is discussion of what those standards are that this thread was set up to discuss, right?
    To use it to continually ask someone to disclose, based solely on your standard, yes, it is harassment by you.
    To use it to attack that person's character, as you have done, is harassment by you.
    Yet you criticise Sarkus for attacking yours in response.

    Now, you can take this criticism of you however you want.
    You can dismiss it entirely if you feel I'm only doing it because Sarkus is a friend.
    Or, maybe you can take the criticism on board as offered in good faith, because in these matters you are completely out of order.
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Thank you for telling us.
    Right. I'd say he's put his arguments - several times in fact. Don't you agree?
    Which "beginning" are you referring to?

    I'd say I started by assuming he would act ethically. There is now something of a question mark on that.
    Ah yes. His "principled" stand. You're very welcome to your opinion, just as I'm welcome to mine.
    I think that his claims of harassment are an attempt to distract from the issue at hand. But, again, you're quite free to reach your own conclusions.
    It's a fair cop. I concede that I've been willing to keep responding to Sarkus's increasingly shrill cries for attention.
    I think I have made it very clear that I'm perfectly willing to conclude this discussion. To agree to disagree. etc. Apparently, Sarkus feels like he needs to win the argument. Or, he feels like he hasn't already won the argument and must say more. Or something.
    I split this discussion from a thread about cryptocurrency, because it spun off into a huge and unexpected debate.

    It seems there is ongoing interest from many people in continuing to discuss this matter. Hence, there is an ongoing thread on it.
    Bear in mind that, so far, he has refused to give any answer at all, let alone one I might like or dislike.

    What I might or might not believe if he were to try posting in good faith remains to be seen, if that ever happens.

    But why do you care what I think about Sarkus's and his ethics?
    I think I've been more than clear in explaining my reasoning. You don't have to agree with me.
    It's a nice try to slap the label "harassment" on what I have posted here. A clever move by Sarkus and one that more than one person has apparently fallen for.

    Yes, Sarkus has asked me to stop, and he has called my questioning "harassment". But I think he is trying to deflect attention from the issue that started all this.

    Nevertheless, as I have said, I'll be quite content to let this thread stand as a record and to stop posting here - right after Sarkus (and the rest of you) have nothing else to add to the thread. Who knows? I might even stop before that, if things get even more repetitive.
    I disagree with all of them, and with you, for reasons I have explained. You don't have to agree with me. The fact that you can gang up doesn't mean you are right and I am wrong, either.
    I'm a reasonable person. If Sarkus's posts had not, to me, seemed to be saying a lot more positive things about Bitcoin than negative things, I would not have asked the question about his vested interests.

    His extreme reaction to being asked makes me think he could be hiding something.

    You don't have to agree with me.
    Sarkus has sour grapes over an issue concerning some action I took as a moderator, that involved him, previously. He also doesn't like me because I disagreed with him on some other issues, and he really needs to win arguments on the internet. There are probably other reasons he has decided he doesn't like me, too.

    None of this is why I have countered criticisms of my position regarding the duty to disclose vested interests. I have made principled arguments. That's what people here are doing. We're all making principled arguments.

    On issues of ethics, principles become central. People who have different ethical ideas and standards will inevitably tend to disagree on the principles of a thing. Sometimes, there's no getting around that. We can only agree to disagree, and each have our own moral compass.
    It sounds like you think it's a problem.
    I have not continually asked Sarkus to disclose. He has made it more than clear that he does not intend to say so much as whether he does or does not have a vested interest in Bitcoin, let alone what that interest might be if he does have one. I'm not holding a gun to his head. It is what it is. It would be pointless of me to continue to ask him to do what he has steadfastly refused to do.

    I can only explain the relevant issues and my thinking, and let people come to their own conclusions. I am happy to debate the issues and to listen to and to address counterarguments, as I have demonstrated.
    Like you, I am free to make my own assessments of people's character, based on their behaviours.

    I completely understand that people often get defensive when their behaviours are questioned on ethical grounds. People who care about ethics tend to feel ashamed when their less-than-ethical behaviour is exposed. There are a number of ways one can act when one feels ashamed. We see them played out every now and then on sciforums.
    I suggest you read post #77 or, if you prefer, its source post #74.

    Tell me you see nothing objectionable in Sarkus's behaviour, there. Can you do that with a straight face?
    I think it's admirable for you to want to jump in to defend your friend. I completely understand.
    I am confident you're telling me what you actually think.
  23. Bells Staff Member

    This would be the same for any investment, be it cryptocurrency, shares, property, gold, silver, even the value of antiques and things like old cars go up as time goes on.

    One interpretation of it, and simplified at best. Owning Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency is an investment and he will not gain when discussing the subject here, particularly when he tells people that it is risky and they risk losing all they invested into it. If he was trying to make money by plugging Bitcoin on this site, he's failing as a salesman. He may or may not own Bitcoin? Okay. And? You have to explain how you think he is benefiting by participating in discussions about something that interests him on this site. Do you think the value of Bitcoin is going to go up because he said that he believes it's a good investment?

    That wholly depends on the context, no? Is he trying to make a sale? Write a research paper that has been funded specifically to extol the virtues of Bitcoin? Write an article in a major publication with a large readership, where he is speaking up the benefit of Bitcoin is being paid for it? What is he doing right now that should see him declare a vested interest? What value or benefit do you think he is gaining from talking about Bitcoin (which, I may add, is boring as batshit)?

    When you speak about mathematics or physics on this site, are you declaring your vested interest in the subject? That is your field of practice, correct? Now, no one would ask you to make such a declaration because a) no one really cares what you do for a living aside from the fact that we would expect you to know what you are talking about when addressing people on those subjects, but most importantly, it isn't anyone's business and b) you are posting about things that interest you, which is the whole point of this site. To have discussions about things that interest us.

    If Sarkus suddenly starts linking to crypto-traders and starts asking people to go to them and he gains a commission out of it, then sure, then we presume that he has a vested interest. The same would apply if you start linking to a site with a paywall, that you happen to write for or have written for and any click would see you earn a commission, then we could presume that you have a vested interest. But none of that is happening currently.

    You need to ask why should we care if he owns shares in a company that makes hardware for crypto mining when all he is doing is talking about something that interests him? Why is it any of our business? Is he telling us to buy NVidia GeForce or AMD Radeon GPU's? Is he plugging those? I mean, I don't own shares in either, but I can tell you now, for performance value, NVidia all the way. Do I have a vested interest because I happen to prefer those GPU's? Or do I have a vested interest because my husband owns Bitcoin and probably owns shares in NVidia that would be left to me if he keeled over dead tomorrow?


    We all want our assets to gain in value. That is why we own assets, be it a house, shares, cryptocurrency, etc. Having an interest in a topic or subject matter does not always amount to having a vested interest in it. Most importantly, you are asking him to disclose something personal about himself and for what? For you to decide if he has a vested interest? Let's say he owns Bitcoin or shares in whatever company that makes GPU's. What does that have to do with his discussing Bitcoin? We could assume he knows what he is talking about from personal experience, just as we could assume you know what you are talking about in the Maths and Physics sub-forums and we would also assume that you both enjoy discussing those subjects because they interest you. He is not gaining anything financially by talking about his investment preferences, just as you gain nothing financially when you discuss maths and physics as subjects or topics on this site.

    Why do you think that is the case? Would you be comfortable if a complete stranger on the internet asked you to disclose something personal about yourself? Would you be comfortable if a stranger on the internet asked you about what investments you may or may not own because you happen to show an interest in a subject?

    From this site's rules:
    Asking him to disclose what investments he may have or to disclose anything personal about himself that could identify his employer, his identity, etc - is not something that we should be encouraging.

    He is posting about a subject that interests him and he may or may not dabble in - and whether he does or not is not really any of our business. He isn't doing anything more than that. Nothing he has posted could be deemed as profitable to him.
    Baldeee likes this.
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