Retired at 48: “I Would Occasionally Get a Response Post Saying I Was ‘the Best Since Hocus Challenged Us to Think'”

I’ve been sending out e-mails containing links to my article on The Wade Pfau Matter. While I was going through old e-mails to get names to whom to send some of the e-mails, I came across the name of a poster named “Retired at 48.” Retired at 48 was a super-popular poster who was banned at the Bogleheads forum and then harassed at the Morningstar forum because he put up posts that caused many people to question Buy-and-Hold dogmatism. I exchanged several e-mails with him some time back about our experiences trying to help our fellow community members learn about stock investing in the face of the brutal attack posts of the Lindaurheads.

I wanted to report on the words of one of Retired at 48’s e-mails to me here. I place great value on the “People Are Talking” section of this site because it tells the story that the Goons don’t want people to know — that there are lots of good and smart people who have grave doubts about Buy-and-Hold and who respect and admire me for having the guts to speak up in the face of the Goon brutality. Retired at 48 put forward some words I want to include in that section of the site because they do a good job of summing up the purpose of the work I do at the various boards and blogs. Here are his words:

Hi Rob.

Whew.  I didn’t realize the extent of the harrassment.  I need some more time to fully read and digest what you forwarded.

I take it I was coming while you were departing.  Yes, it became more and more apparent that the Bogleheads were not that interested in investment theory…but rather a dogmatic type adherence to a set of investment principals.

But you may not be aware that certain members and moderators are forming a business there, selling (in their words) for $295 portfolio reviews based on a four index fund, buy and hold, forever, model.  So a big conflict of interest exists if one provides alternate ways to invest.  And the head of that business sure made an aggressive personal attack against me on my posts, especially a post entitled “200-Day Moving Average Market Timing.”

I’m debating with myself on the extent of my involvement on the M* Diehard forum.

BTW I would occasionally get a response post saying I was “the best since hocus challenged us to think.”  So I had heard your name often.

I’ll E-Mail you as I digest more of your input.  And thanks, for it may influence my future direction on the forums.

Bob…retired at 48, aka R48

It made me feel good to know that there were people telling Retired at 48 that my posts challenged them to think. That’s my goal. I have often noted that I am one of the flawed humans and that thus it is possible that I am wrong about what I say about investing. I argue that, even if that’s so, I should be permitted to offer my thoughts because there is zero chance that the expression of those thoughts can do any harm. If I am right, permitting me to express my thoughts is a huge plus for everyone. If I am wrong, I will obviously be exposed by the Buy-and-Holders and the experience of having the Buy-and-Hold ideas publicly challenged and then reaffirmed will help more people to see the merit in those ideas. So permitting honest posting is a win/win/win.

I’ll add Bob’s words to the “People Are Talking” section of the site with the posting of this blog entry. I thank him for his kindness in letting me know what several of his fellow community members said of my work.

One final thought along these lines is worth noting. Academic Researcher Wade Pfau learned about Valuation-Informed Indexing by reading my posts at the Bogleheads Forum (it was called “Vanguard Diehards” in those days). If Wade’s research someone wins a Nobel Prize in Economics, I hope people will remember that we would not all have that amazing research available to us today if not for the decision of the Morningstar site administrators to refuse Mel Lindauer’s demands for a ban on honest posting for the first 20 months of his Campaign of Terror against that board community. The community was wonderful. It was the Buy-and-Hold dogmatics that brought the ugliness to the forum.


  1. Rob says

    I want him back posting there, Evidence.

    The hundreds of people who identified him as their favorite poster in the history of the site want him back.

    We want the Campaign of Terror brought to a complete and total stop by the close of business today.

    We want the internet sewer rats who have put up posts in “defense” of Mel Lindauer and John Greaney removed from the site. In cases in which criminal penalties are appropriate (those who threatened Wade Pfau so that he would stop doing honest research), we want those criminal penalties imposed so that we can get that ugly stuff behind us and move on to the fun and exciting stuff that follows from permitting honest posting.

    We want our integrity back Evidence.

    We want to overcome this economic crisis.

    We want to learn what we need to learn to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent and to be able to retire five to ten years sooner.

    We want the same ethical standards that apply in every other industry to apply to those who make a living giving advice on stock investing.

    We want our free market economy back. We want the smelly Buy-and-Hold garbage buried 30 feet in the ground, where it can do no further harm to humans and other living things.

    You dig, man?


  2. what says

    Didn’t this happen 3+ years ago? Talk about looking back in history to find uninteresting and pointless drivel.

    So…a fruitcake left a forum. He wasn’t even banned. You should correct your worthless original post.

  3. Rob says

    We disagree on all points, What.

    He left because he was intimidated for the “crime” of posting his honest views. The entire community lost out when he left, INCLUDING the Goons who engaged in the intimidation. We all need to hear other points of view to become effective investors, What.

    And what we are talking about here is still going on today. You have no idea what wonderful things we all would be learning at the Bogleheads Forum this morning if the forum permitted honest posting.

    There’s a reason why the rules permit honest posting. Those rules reflect the social norm that applies in every field of human endeavor except stock investing. The Ban on Honest Posting reflects our discomfort with the mistakes we made when the Buy-and-Hold concept was developed (because all the research was not available at that time).

    I wish you all good things, old friend.


  4. What says

    I am pretty sure it is a social norm to ostracize fruitcakes. And that particular fruitcake was a whining baby whose ego got bruised so he ran off crying. He never did anything ban worthy that I could see. You on the other hand….

  5. Rob says

    Retired at 48 was the most popular poster at the site at the time he was posting there, What.

    I discovered the errors in the Old School SWR studies 10 years before any of the experts in the field.

    You and the other Buy-and-Holders who demanded bans are hyper-defensive. You hurt yourself and others by being hyper-defensive.

    I wish you well.


  6. what says

    Where did anyone demand bans of this R48 fellow? And even if anyone demanded such – he was NOT BANNED in any case.

    You on the other hand, pretty much deserved bans everywhere you got them.

  7. Rob says

    Hundreds of posters there loved him. He wanted to help them out. Look at what he tells us up above. The problem is that Buy-and-Hold advocates were trying to make a buck and this guy made it harder for them to close the sale. It shouldn’t be all about making a buck, What.

    And you say that I deserved to be banned. Why? Because I discovered the errors in the Old School SWR studies ten years before anybody else? Was that a bad thing? I don’t see it.

    I’m proud of having been the person to discover those errors. I argued that the studies should have been corrected at the time. How many do you think have been corrected in the 10 years since? I’ll give you a hint – it’s a number that you can count on the fingers of one finger and still have one finger remaining to point into the air.

    Maybe we need some of the “experts” in this field to say things that would cause them to be banned! I’d rather they be banned for telling the truth than tell us what we want to hear and thereby cause our retirements to fail.

    I wish you all good things, in any event.


  8. what says

    You were banned because you caused a tragedy of the commons. You essentially filled up entire forums with your blibber blabber. It is like bringing 1000000 replicas of yourself to a public park. Sure, it is OK for you to go to a public park, but not clog up the streams and fields with your gunk.

  9. Rob says

    What happened is that I pointed out the errors in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies in a post that I put to the Motley Fool site on the morning of May 13, 2002. The point that I made was undeniable. Either the studies contain a valuation adjustment or they do not. Anyone who cared to could check. The studies do not contain a valuation adjustment.

    This means that Buy-and-Hold has failed. Most people invest specifically for the purpose of financing their retirements. If the Buy-and-Hold Model gets the retirement numbers wildly wrong, Buy-and-Hold has failed us and needs to be replaced. Valuation-Informed Indexing is the obvious replacement. It contains all the elements of the Buy-and-Hold Model that have stood the test of time but deletes the Get Rich Quick element (the idea that investors need not engage in long-term timing) that has caused so much economic destruction.

    Lots of people are emotionally addicted to Buy-and-Hold today. This point has been well-established by the 10 years of discussions. So our discovery that Buy-and-Hold has failed caused many people a good deal of emotional pain. I get that. It obviously was not my intent to cause people pain but it is obviously the case that large numbers of people felt such pain and continue to feel it to this day. The question is — What to do?

    I say we need to move forward. We need to ACKNOWLEDGE that Buy-and-Hold has failed and move on to the model that actually works — Valuation-Informed Indexing. We are the luckiest group of investors who ever walked Planet Earth. We know what we need to know to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent. We are fools if we do not take advantage of the huge opportunities that have been presented to us.

    But the key that turns the lock is the Buy-and-Holders saying The Three Magic Words. For so long as there are people trying to rationalize not taking price into consideration when setting their stock allocations, there are going to be people feeling great emotional pain every time we discuss what the academic research of the past 30 years tells us about how stock investing works. We all need to be united in getting Bogle and other leaders in this field to publicly acknowledge that Buy-and-Hold has failed and that it is time to move on.

    The turmoil we have seen on the boards is not the result of me telling the truth about what the academic research says. That is a wonderful thing. I need to be sure to never, never, never stop doing that. The turmoil has been caused by the failure of the Buy-and-Holders to say The Three Magic Words.

    I have done everything I can think of to encourage them to take this step. I need help. I need you doing what you can do. I need Bogle’s help. I need Bernstein’s help. I need Obama’s help and Romney’s help. I need the New York Times writing all this up on the front page. I need my fellow bloggers uniting in an effort to open every blog on the internet to honest discussion of these issues.

    When we get there, there is no more turmoil. There is no down side to learning the realities of stock investing. There is no down side to bringing the economic crisis to an end. There is no down side to reducing the risk of stock investing by 70 percent. The shift from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing is a win/win/win/win/win.

    All the turmoil comes from the failure of the Buy-and-Holders to acknowledge the mistake they made. I cannot do this for them. I can advise. I can encourage. I can implore. But I cannot put on a John Bogle mask and say the words he needs to say and have that act achieve the effect we need to achieve here. I need Bogle’s help. I need your help in securing Bogle’s help.

    Please help, What.

    I of course wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors in any event. Take care, old friend.



  1. […] “I Cannot Put On a John Bogle Mask and Say the Words He Needs to Say and Have That Act Achieve the Effect We Need to Achieve Here. I Need Bogle’s Help. I Need Your Help in Securing Bogle’s Help.” Published in October 31st, 2012 Posted by Rob in Community, Discussion Boards, economic crisis, Experts, Rob Bennett Set forth below is the text of a response post that I put to the blog entry titled Retired at 48: “I Would Occasionally Get a Response Post Saying I Was “the Best Since Ho… […]

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