Yesterday’s blog entry reported on an e-mail that I sent to Academic Researcher Wade Pfau on May 1, 2011. In the e-mail, I tried to offer words of comfort to my friend, who was living in fear that the Greaney Goons would follow through on their efforts to get him fired from his job because he had posted honestly on safe withdrawal rates. I knew from our earlier correspondence that Wade is married and has at least one small child (this came up during the time there was a concern over a possible nuclear meltdown in Japan because Wade had particular concerns about what might happen to his wife, who was pregnant at the time). I sent a follow-up e-mail the next day. The text is set forth below.
I reread your e-mail this morning and noticed something that might suggest a misperception that needs to be cleared up. You ask that I not delete the thread at the Hocomania site. I have no ability to delete threads there. That site is owned by Greaney. It was set up solely for the purpose of intimidating people like you, people who have expressed some interest in uncovering the realities of what the historical data says.
For example, there was a time when we had many people participating at Bogleheads who thought that valuations should be considered in calculations of the SWR. They would analyze each thread at the Hocomania board and discuss strategies for destroying people who had expressed the view that valuations should be considered. They would talk about defamatory things they could all agree to say over at Bogleheads to get people not to like that poster or things that they could say the poster had said that would help to get the poster banned or organize campaigns to send e-mails to Morningstar to demand a ban. If a reporter wrote an article, they would send e-mails to the reporter’s boss to try to get him or her fired. There was a time when they called a poster’s place of work to try to get that poster fired. Mel Lindauer would then put a link up at Bogleheads so that everyone knew that the person who had said that valuations should be considered was being “punished” and understood what would be in store for them if they elected to “cross” Lindauer or Greaney by posting honestly on investing topics.
This is why I often note that there is a Ban on Honest Posting on SWRs in effect at Bogleheads and many other sites today. This group uses Google searches to find out each day if there is anyone posting honestly about SWRs or other important investment-related topics and then sends their Goon Squads in to deal with the matter. As I said in the earlier e-mail, this has been going on for nine years now. Given the huge legal liabilities they have run up, there is precisely zero chance that they will stop of their own accord, in my assessment.
I have no way of knowing precisely how much of the background of all this you know about. I have been presuming that, since you have seen Drip Guy’s behavior and Lindauer’s behavior, you had the general idea. Your comment about me
deleting a thread led me to believe that you might be thinking that I have some sort of ownership interest in that board. I have opposed the Campaign of Terror against our board communities going back to May 13, 2002. I put a post to Motley Fool demanding Greaney’s removal on November 23, 2002 (this was after he put up a post threatening to kill family members of any community members who posted honestly on the SWR matter). I post at that board only to correct the record to the extent I can and to answer questions that the Goons have (even the Goons would benefit from understanding the realities of stock investing and there have been rare cases where they have asked sincere questions). I have zero authority to delete threads at the Hocomania board.
The Bogleheads board at one time had a reputation for not encouraging lots of abusive posting. When the Goons showed up, a number of long-timers there asked where the Goon posters were coming from. I put up a post describing Greaney’s tactics and Lindauer’s role of linking to Greaney’s board each time a new poster dared to post honestly. I also contacted Morningstar about the matter and offered to send them e-mails each time Lindauer linked to the Greaney board. The Morningstar admins did not respond to the e-mail. Lindauer has said that “higher-ups” at Vanguard follow the board closely and know what goes on at it. The threatening threads were a daily occurrence during the years when I posted there. It was my May 13, 2002, post at Motley Fool that first noted the analytical errors in the Old School studies. So the Goons knew from my first post at Bogleheads that I would be posting honestly and started a smear campaign on the first day.
The Bogleheads board was launched for the purpose of blocking any possibility of honest posting. There had been numerous posters arguing that honest posting should be permitted back when the board was located at Morningstar.com. The smear campaigns caused many good people to leave but some soldiered on. The idea of moving to Bogleheads.org was to no longer have to operate under the Morningstar admins, who had not taken action in response to the smear campaigns but who had also not been wiling to ban those posting honestly, as the Lindauer and Greaney Goons demanded. Today they can of course ban anyone who comes to represent any sort of threat. So you no longer see discussions of whether honest posting on SWRs should be permitted or not.
I hope that background helps you make a little bit better sense of this. If ever there is a time when you have questions about the history, please don’t hesitate to ask. For good or for ill, I’ve had a front-row seat going back to the first day.