Bankman-Fried sounds barely competent to testify

Originally published at: Bankman-Fried sounds barely competent to testify | Boing Boing


I don’t think this has to do with incompetence. I think this has to do with his belief that he’s the smartest person in the room, and so he thinks he can talk his way around and out of this. No, he doesn’t have “an interesting way of answering questions.” He’s trying to pull a con in the courtroom. I doubt it will work, though.


“The smartest person in the room” generally demands to be heard, and the stenographer would not have difficulty hearing them. He should have known better than to take the stand, he doesn’t want to answer their questions.


Yeah but that’s part of his con act. You saw the same thing in his Stephanopoulos interview. He talks quietly and deliberately and throws around concepts to make himself sound smart. That technique probably works on people who give him the benefit of the doubt. Elizabeth Holmes wasn’t loud either. She just lowered her voice. These modern tech con artists think they’ve learned verbal tricks to manipulate people. Anyway, it’s certainly not incompetence, at least not in a legal sense. That would mean he is unable to understand the questions and answer them. He’s perfectly able to do that. He just doesn’t want to.


If people fancy a good read about the whole crypto Ponzi scheme (with a good chunk given over to Bankman-Fried), I can thoroughly recommend Easy Money by Ben McKenzie and Jacob Silverman. It’s extremely well written and you don’t need to understand the tech to learn a lot about just how bad things are. It includes scams like NFTs, Celsius and the disastrous crypto experiment in already troubled El Salvador.


Apparently, Mumbles here is blaming the lawyers. You know, like the one he asked to make up a law-talking reason for not releasing the client funds he lost.

I’m sure he learned this from a young age. This is carefully crafted persona in all respects.


Voluntarily testifying on your own behalf is usually a very bad idea because it gives the opposite side the chance to cross-examine you (especially on whatever came up in your direct testimony), with unpredictable results.

In Bankman-Fried’s case it is particularly dangerous because the guy is such a loose cannon with delusions of grandeur and (presumably) skeletons in the closet. Nothing good can come out of this for him. His lawyers must be tearing out their hair.


From his law professor parents?


That’s my guess. I’ve read that their little genius was the star of dinner-table discourse. That usually involves coaching from a young age about how to sound thoughtful even if one is talking nonsense.


i can’t tell you how many pieces i have read that have me mentally screaming “YOU ARE TALKING TO A TWEAKER. THAT’S IT. IT’S NOT SOME MYSTERIOUS SIDE EFFECT OF AUTISTIC GENIUS, IT’S JUST A HELL OF A LOT OF ADDERALL”

Andrew Molitor


I say he’s every bit as competent as a witness as he was as a CEO.


I said in the post about how he was going to take the stand, that he was going to find the experience a lot different than him BSing in interviews. You can gishgalllop and ramble on an excuse in an interview, that will not fly in court.


I mean, he did con a whole lot of people out of their money by talking in a way that no one could understand, but that sounded competent enough to the unawares to get the job done. And I’m sure that he, like a great many failsons in this country, grew up hearing nothing but how smart and clever he is. He certainly wouldn’t be the first privileged white dude to think he can worm his way out of consequences by putting the right words in the right order, with the right tone of voice, like some magic spell or something. I look forward to the continuing cavalcade of crashes and burns this dude has in front of him.


My mom worked at a law firm for decades. Much anecdotal evidence shows that the chips do not contain the same set of smarts as the old blocks.


i’d wonder if that isn’t the point. if the jury believes he barely understands what’s going on and can’t communicate well: maybe that generates doubt he about whether he’s actually responsible


Most of the legal experts I’ve read seem to think that this may be the kind of Hail Mary pass one tries when the trial is going so badly that it can’t get much worse, so you might as well try a long shot tactic like “maybe SBF can use his infamous power of persuasion to win over just one person and hang the jury.”

Or maybe there’s no coherent strategy at all and this is just SBF asserting his right to testify over the advice of his own legal counsel.


There is no jury.


There is a jury, but they will not hear SBF’s testimony unless the judge deems it relevant to the case and allows him to repeat it in open court.


I’m seeing updates that he is currently testifying before the jury right now, started 2 hours ago.


Oh, ok, sorry. I was wrong. Misunderstood.