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Re: Snake-Oil FAQ

At 03:48 AM 9/22/96 -0700, Timothy C. May wrote:

>The Basic Problem (tm) with a "Snake Oil FAQ" is that the very persons most
>in need of it won't read it.
>If those who post descriptions of their "Unbreakable Virtual Whammo-Matic
>Really Complicated Transposition Cipher" have not bothered to read Schneier
>or other basic texts on ciphers, why would they bother to read a Snake Oil
>FAQ? This applies to their customers as well.

I agree that it will no change the glorified decoder ring salesmen, but it
can have a positive effect on their customers.

The FAQ has the ability to reach those who would not nessisarily read
Schneier or any other large tome.

Most of the people outside of this forum have some understanding of
cryptography.  Most of that understanding is based on folklore and
marketing hype.  If we do not take pains to educate them as to what real
crypto is, then we might as well just sit here and prattle on about
Assassination Politics and ad hominem.  

You seem to take a pretty negative attitude about what the general public
can and cannot learn from.  If Cypherpunks do not help educate the masses,
who will?  The snake oil salesmen?  The Government?  The masses themselves?
 They are not going to go out and buy a book intended for programmers.
(And especially one that costs about $50.)  There are no "cryptography for
dummies" books.  (At least none worth a damn.)

A FAQ has the ability to propigate in channels that books cannot.  You
cannot forward a book via e-mail.  (Some will claim I have tried...)  The
FAQ has the capability to do alot of good. 

If not, where do you think the energy would be better spent?

<sarcasm>"If it saves just one newbie..."</sarcasm>  

Alan Olsen -- [email protected] -- Contract Web Design & Instruction
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