“Since There Is Only One Person Taking in the Idea When I Send an E-Mail Describing Valuation-Informed Indexing, There Is None of the Negative Group Dynamics That Has Poisoned Discussions So Many Times in the Past”

I’ve been sending e-mails to various people letting them know about my article on the tactics used by Buy-and-Holders to intimidate Academic Researcher Wade Pfau into not publishing further research showing the superiority of Valuation-Informed Indexing investing strategies over Buy-and-Hold investing strategies. I recently received a response from Brad Borden, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School, saying: “This is interesting. I’m curious, however, to know why you chose to contact me.” My response is set forth below:


Thanks for your response.
There is no particular reason why I contacted you in particular.
The entire story is very strange. I have been working on this for 10 years. I have had mixed reactions to the work I have done.
Those who “get it” (a small number in percentage terms) view this as the most important advance ever achieved in the investing field. There are numerous smart and good people who see the implications as being very positive and very far- reaching. Those reactions naturally make it impossible for me to give this up. I want this work to be recognized and to help people live better lives.
Those who do NOT get it (a high percentage of the population, perhaps 90 percent, and a group that also includes many very smart and very good people) see only limited value here or (in not a small number of  cases) react with hostility.
The high percentage of indifferent and (especially) hostile reactions has made it impossible for me to spread the word effectively. For example, I built a very large Retire Early discussion-board community at the Motley Fool site. The board was destroyed by arguments over the merits of these ideas. A small group thought these ideas generated the best discussions ever held at the board. A large group preferred to see the entire board destroyed rather than to permit the discussions to continue.
The short version of all this is — These ideas generate intensely emotional reactions. To spread the ideas, I need to find a way to work around this problem.
My current effort is to contact all sorts of people by e-mail and to answer any questions they have and to try to gain support that way. Since it is only one person taking in  the idea, there is none of the negative group dynamics that has poisoned discussions so many times in the past. If the people who I win over are as intense in their enthusiasm as some of those I have won over in the past, even a small number of supporters might make a huge difference.
I am not focusing on one type of person because I have not found any one type of person that is particularly open to hearing about the ideas. Some investing experts love this stuff and some hate it. Some journalists love this stuff and some hate it. Some economists love this stuff and some hate it.
I fully understand that my explanation sounds odd. This entire matter is very odd. I have never seen anything remotely like it. If the ideas are sound (there is a mountain of evidence that they are, at least in my assessment), it is imperative that I spread the word before more damage is done to our economy through the promotion of the discredited conventional investing ideas. But the normal ways of building support for personal finance ideas (getting experts on board, writing articles, going to blogs, etc.) just do not work for this particular concept. I am trying something different just to see whether the effort bears good fruit or not.
You don’t possess any particular characteristics that make you a good person to contact other than that you obviously possess a strong intellect and are involved in at least a tangential way with some matters that relate in some way to public policy. If you end up feeling that you learned something, I will of course be 100 percent happy. If you  prefer that I not contact you again, I am of course okay with that. If you ask questions, I will do what I can to respond effectively. If somewhere down the line you become a supporter, I will be thrilled about anything you can do to move the ball forward. I of course understand that that’s an extreme long-shot. My belief is that I only need a  small number of those extreme long-shot bets to come through to make a big positive difference. And I think that in time I will see a small number of these “bets” come through for me.
Sorry for the long explanation. I feel that you merit as clear an answer as I am able to provide. Please don’t feel any obligation at all to do anything further. The vast majority of those I contact do not respond in any way. You have already made me feel good by saying “this is interesting.” If by any chance you feel a desire to explore any aspect of this in greater depth, certainly feel free to shoot me back a follow-up e-mail with more questions or concerns or reactions or whatever.
And thanks for giving me an opportunity to work that all out on paper!


  1. Evidence Based Investing says

    Sorry for the long explanation. I feel that you merit as clear an answer as I am able to provide.

    Unfortunately your ability to provide a clear answer is somewhat limited.

  2. Rob says

    I disagree, Evidence.

    I know better than anyone else why I contacted the fellow and I explained in my e-mail to him why I did so.

    Please take good care, my Buy-and-Hold friend.


  3. Rob says

    This exchange shows why it is a bad idea to have The Stock-Selling Industry committed to “defense” of a pure Get Rich Quick approach while also using the claim that “the academic research supports what we say” as its key marketing slogan in a time-period 30 years after the academic research showed that there is zero chance that a pure Get Rich Quick approach can ever work for even a single long-term investor. The bs piles on top of the bs until the pile is so large that it is not possible for a reasonable person to see beyond the huge, smelly pile.

    Not this boy!


  4. Rob says

    Do you think it was boorish of me to be the first to point out the errors in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies, Trebor?

    Do you think it would have been better if I had kept my mouth shut?


  5. Trebor Martin says

    You have never pointed out any errors in the safe withdrawal rate studies; you have simple exhibited your ignorance of the subject

  6. what says

    “Do you think it would have been better if I had kept my mouth shut?”

    Well, yes.

    1) You are completely unable to effectively communicate your ideas. You are a complete failure. So, even if you do have a good idea, your efforts will never succeed.

    2) You probably would have made better decisions about your own career and family responsibilities so you would have been better off also.

  7. Rob says

    I’m grateful to you for answering the question, What.

    We disagree.

    It took guts for me to go forward with what I knew about safe withdrawal rates. I was scared too. And, yes, as you point out, my business has suffered as a result of the attacks on me. But on the content side, I have accomplished things I never even dimly imagined possible in the years before I put forward that fateful post.

    One of the articles I have planned for the coming year is one in which I will offer brief descriptions of 101 powerful investing insights that I was able to develop as a result of things I learned because of the discussions that followed from my posting of the May 13, 2002, post. 101 powerful insights! Including the two most important of all: (1) What we need to do to overcome the economic crisis; and (2) How we can reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent. Even I cannot believe that and I’ve had a front-row seat for the entire show.

    I regret all the bad stuff that we have been put through. It breaks my heart. But the bad stuff, as bad as it has been, does not come close to matching the wonderful, life-enhancing stuff that has been developed as a result of my fateful decision to push the “Send” button on those words from the morning of May 13, 2002.

    I don’t apologize for it.

    I extend the hand of friendship to all my Buy-and-Hold friends. That I can do. I can say that I respect you all and admire you all and value you all and like you all. That I can do with a clear conscience. I cannot betray the 101 insights with a clear conscience. And I cannot betray the millions of people whose lives will be enriched by the 101 insights with a clear conscience.

    I’ll tell you a little secret, What. I would be betraying you too if I took that dark path. Your life will be richer when we all make it to the other side of The Big Black Mountain. I intend to see to it. So it’s not just all the others who I betray if I agree to post dishonestly on safe withdrawal rates. It’s you too, my long-time Goon friend. No can do, you know? I cannot stick it to a bud like you after all the good times we have had together, can I?

    Hang in there. We will figure it out. We will work our way from this dark place where we find ourselves today to the much brighter place where deep in our hearts each and every one of us wants to be in the future. We are making progress. Slow progress. Painfully slow progress. But progress all the same. Do you remember when I couldn’t get a comment posted at any personal finance blog on the internet? Things are changing, my man.


    That’s my recommendation. I don’t pray as my first course of action. I figure that God helps those who help themselves. So it’s better to take some sort of action. But when you have taken all the actions you can think of, why not pray? It certainly cannot hurt. It might help. After ten years of this, why not pray? That idea sure makes sense to this boy’s ears.

    And you have to have a little faith in your fellow man too. People mess up. It’s been happening since the beginning of time. People also fix their mess-ups. That too has been going on since the beginning of time. Lots of our fellow community members have doubts re that part of the story because they haven’t seen much in the fix-up department yet. We’re saving the best for last, man! Yeah, that’s it! We’re saving the best for last!

    It’s going to be all right.

    So says The All-Powerful and All-Knowing Farmer Hocus.

    Who thought that this crazy stuff would last 2 days, 3 days at most. Oops! I wasn’t supposed to mention that part. Whachagondo?

    Hang in there, What. It’s all good on the other side. We’ll get there. There will be a day when some smart person will figure out the magic words and all kinds of unmovable doors will swing open. That’s how it happens. People forget that we have found ourselves in tight corners one or two times in our past.

    It’s better that I didn’t keep my mouth shut.

    I’m sure!

    I think.


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