Set forth below is the text of the e-mail that I sent to Mike Piper (author of the Oblivious Investor blog) on November 6, 2009, in response to the e-mail from Mike described in yesterday’s blog entry.
I have contacted law enforcement authorities, Mike.
And I have contacted lawmakers.
And there are thousands of community members who have expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted.
And I have contacted several lawyers for the purpose of bringing civil actions, and will continue to do so as our efforts to get the internet reopened to honest posting on safe withdrawal rates and other important investment topics continue.
And you know enough about this today to know that there is a big, big problem with the conventional investing advice of today.
These matters have been discussed at you own blog. Your yourself have received e-mails from readers of your blog in which they asked that posters who report accurately what the historical data says be banned from commenting. That alone tells you that there is something exceedingly strange going on here, does it not? It sure should. It is of course not possible for me to know precisely to what extent you are suffering from cognitive dissonance re these matters, but I think it is fair to say that those sorts of e-mails would cause warning bells to ring in your head if you were thinking even a little bit straight.
You are part of a community, Mike. When someone in a community of which you are a member engages in the type of behavior that Mel Lindauer has engaged in, that person has a responsibility to disassociate himself from that behavior in every possible way. You have failed to do this. You endorsed Lindauer’s book even after being made aware that he engaged in a Campaign of Terror against the Vanguard Diehards community when it expressed a strong desire to learn more about the realities of safe withdrawal rates and other important investment topics.
It’s not all about marketing, Mike. Marketing comes second. The most important thing is getting the investment advice right. When you have done all that you can to get it right, THEN you focus on marketing. For so long as you ban honest posting on the flaws in the Passive Investing “idea” that were revealed by the academic research 28 YEARS AGO, you will have things in the wrong order.
I will not publish this particular correspondence with you on my blog (it is still my intent to publish the earlier correspondence for which you gave an okay — but please let me know if you have changed your mind about that). I will instead publish a summary of your comments and then the actual words of my responses to you.
I will of course remain open to engaging in any constructive conversations that you elect at any future date to pursue. We are going to need to see people who have advocated Passive Investing in the past take a more positive role if we are to prevent our economic and political system from going over a cliff. I believe that you are well-positioned to serve in this role as you have evidenced both a keep intelligence and a willingness to try to understand the other side of the story that is greater than what I have seen among many other Passive Investing enthusiasts.
I wish you the best, Mike. That is of course part of the reason why I would like to see you disassociate yourself from the ugliness. I think your blog has great potential. I think you are harming its future growth potential by banning honest posting on these important questions and by failing to bring your thinking on these topics up to date with the academic research of the past three decades. But I still see great potential there and I continue to harbor hopes that you will see your way to taking the steps needed to realize that potential.
I’m your friend. If you ever see benefit in speaking to me as a friend re these matters, I will be there for you. It’s the voice that tempts you to put marketing considerations above all else that is your enemy, according to my assessment of the realities that apply here. Bogle’s wonderful innovation was bringing elements of science to our understanding of how stock investing works. His grand mistake was letting marketing considerations overrule the demands of science when the academic research showed that his First Draft understanding of how markets work turned out to be in error. My view is that you are making the same mistake today. My aim is to persuade both John Bogle and Mike Piper (and many, many other good and smart people who were taken in by the Passive Investing “idea”) to get themselves off the dark path and back onto The Bright Side of the Road, where I strongly believe that people of their talents and compassion for others belong.