Hopium: Here’s why we hold our bags to 0

3 min readAug 9, 2023

Let’s dive into one of humanity’s most potent emotions, hope, and its profound impact on various facets of life. It’s why religion exists for as long as it has, it’s why we stay in toxic relationships, and it’s why we hold onto bags that are down bad.

The drowning rat experiment

A psychobiologist by the name of Dr. Curt Richter and a team of researchers conducted an experiment on rats in the 1950s that is famously known as the drowning rat experiment. The experiment demonstrated the power of hope and optimism.

The experiment was designed to figure out how long it would take a rat to drown after placing them into jars filled with water.

The rats were separated into two groups. The first group of rats was placed in a jar of water, where they swam around the surface for a bit, eventually sinking to the bottom and drowning. It took about 15 minutes on average for the rat to drown.

The second set of rats was also placed into jars of water, where they would also swim around for some time. Though this time, the researchers removed the rats from the water after they have been exhausted from swimming. The researchers dried them, let them rest, and later put them back into the water.

To the researchers’ surprise, the second set of rats swam and strived to stay alive for nearly 3 days! This batch of rats lasted for 60 hours in the water before eventually drowning. A vast difference from the 15 minutes in the first group of rats.

The second group of rats, driven by their belief in forthcoming rescue, defied their perceived limitations, revealing an astonishing ability to push beyond what seemed impossible.


In crypto, hopium refers to hope as a drug. Ever watched a podcast or read a Twitter thread that tells you why a token is a good investment? This is the distribution of hopium. Hopium keeps markets alive and investors hopeful that an asset or a project will be successful in the future, even if the chances seem slim.

Managing “hopium” comes with challenges due to our inherent biases. When deeply invested, we tend to seek out information that aligns with our hopeful expectations, reinforcing our biases and impeding objective assessment.

Recognizing the intricacies of hope and its investment counterpart, “hopium,” holds great value. Developing awareness of its influence can empower you to make informed decisions about when to hold and when to cut losses. An understanding that a surge in “hopium outweighs fears and doubts can guide hopeful yet prudent investment choices. By understanding and managing the dynamics of hopium, we can navigate the complex landscape of opportunities with a balanced perspective.

NB: Excessive hopium in life is good and often encouraged, but when it comes to investments, thread cautiously.




Full time thinker - Investments & Research @ Bankless Ventures