Wait, Why Is This Worth Anything?

A few minutes into explaining Bitcoin to the uninitiated, the discussion invariably starts leaning in a particular direction and then "the question" gets asked: "Obviously some people think they're valuable, I mean they're buying them at those exchanges you told me about but I just don't see it - how are bitcoins actually worth anything?" At this point, most Bitcoiners (myself included) make the mistake of replying with a knee-jerk reaction. "What makes the money in your wallet worth anything? It's just some ink on fancy paper and as a means of exchange it's not even good at its only job!" We think we're enlightening them, opening their eyes to deep economic truths - we're not. What we're doing is dodging the question.