Law Professor Brad Borden: “This [My Article on The Silencing of Academic Researcher Wade Pfau by the Buy-and-Hold Mafia] Is Interesting. I’m Curious, However, to Know Why You Chose to Contact Me.”

I have been sending e-mails to numerous people telling them about my article on The Silencing of Academic Researcher Wade Pfau by the Buy-and-Hold Mafia. Set forth below is the text of a response that I received from Law Professor Brad Borden, followed by my reply to Brad:

Hi, Rob:

This is interesting. I’m curious, however, to know why you chose to contact me.

Thanks,

Brad

 

Brad:

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 dynamic 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!

Rob

Comments

  1. sparky says

    Rob,

    Take a good hard look at this. Here is someone that is right on point asking why you are contacting him. I would suspect most others that you have contacted have thought the same thing. Note that the vast majority of people (as you have even admitted) do not agree with you. When you are not getting any significant support you have to do some hard self evaluation and consider the possibility that you are WRONG.

  2. Rob says

    I agree in full with the first two points you make here and in part with the third, Sparky.

    I am 100 percent confident that many of the recipients of my e-mails find the e-mail campaign an odd way of spreading the word. How can I be so sure? I find it an odd way of proceeding MYSELF. If the person sending the e-mails finds it an odd way of proceeding, how could at least a significant percentage of those receiving them not feel the same?

    And I certainly agree that the vast majority of people do not share my views on investing. If they did, stocks couldn’t possibly be priced as they are today. So that one also is settled.

    Your third point is that I should do some hard self-evaluation and consider the possibility that I am wrong.

    I agree 100 percent with those words as stated. I have engaged in hard self-evaluation every day for 10 years running now. So I obviously agree with you that this is needed. And I have come to the conclusion that it is possible that I am wrong. I’ve been wrong before. I thought I was right on those occasions. If it happened those times, why would it not be possible that it is happening again?

    The part re which I disagree is unspoken but implicit in your words.

    Your implicit suggestion is that I should stop sending the e-mails.

    No.

    That would be a terrible, terrible, terrible choice for me to make.

    This is where YOU need to consider the possibility that it is YOU who are wrong.

    If you are wrong, we have available to us today a means of reducing the risk of stock investing by 70 percent and we are not making use of it.

    If you are wrong, we have caused an economic crisis because some Big Shots in this field were not able to work up the courage to acknowledge that what the academic research appeared to show 30 years ago no longer applies (something that all “experts” in this field should know as a result of their obligation to keep up with the new research as it appears).

    If you are wrong, we have destroyed many fine discussion boards and blogs for no good reason whatsoever.

    If you are wrong, many of our friends will be serving long prison terms following the next price crash. Huh? That makes sense? It’s not a close call, Sparky. That makes zero sense.

    I could be wrong. You could be wrong. So it goes in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours.

    Fortunately for us, we have as a society figured out a way to deal with this dilemma. We permit both sides to have their say. Then all the people interested in the subject listen in and decide for themselves. That way, as the case for an idea weakens, it is replaced by another, ultimately stronger idea.

    That’s how we have to play it. I am not wrong re that one. That one is backed by all our cultural norms and indeed by our entire legal system and by thousands of years of human civilization. It’s not even remotely possible that I am wrong re that one.

    Say that I really am wrong and that Buy-and-Hold is the ideal investing strategy. If that is so, Buy-and-Hold will survive any challenges that I or anyone else can present. The Buy-and-Hold idea will be stronger after it is vindicated than it is today. If Buy-and-Hold is the ideal strategy, that’s what you and I both want to see happen, no?

    So let’s get to work, Sparky!

    Let’s get that Ban on Honest Posting lifted at every discussion board and blog on the internet and let’s see Buy-and-Hold (or Valuation-Informed Indexing!) vindicated in the national debate that follows.

    I look forward to working together with you and all of my other Buy-and-Hold friends to put all the ugliness behind us and to transform these discussions into helpful and fruitful and warm and friendly ones from this point forward.

    Please let me know at what time today I should begin posting again to the Bogleheads Forum. I believe that it would be helpful if you would ask Mel to put up a “Welcome Back, Rob!” thread. That would set the right tone for where we all want to take this in coming days.

    Thanks for hanging in there, my old friend!

    Rob

  3. sparky says

    Rob,

    By your own admission, you have sent thousands of emails and have no real support. You also get no supportive comments on this site. You have been banned from a large number of boards. There is no conspiracy. You are delusional.

  4. Rob says

    I have 140 wildly supportive comments posted (with links!) at the “People Are Talking” section of the site, Sparky. There is no other blogger on the face of Planet Internet who has even a fraction of the number of wildly enthusiastic endorsements that I have won for myself.

    Tell me one other blogger who has his name in the Acknowledgments section of peer-reviewed academic research (saying that he was the person whose views on investing inspired the research). And we’re not talking about any old research paper here. We are talking about research that a Ph.D. graduate from Princeton says belongs in the Journal of Finance, the top journal in the field.

    Are you joking?

    You are right that people do not post comments here. And people do not link to me. And people do not write articles about me.

    They are afraid to do so.

    I had tons of support before Greaney threatened to kill family members of any poster who expressed support for me. Do you think that might have something to do with the lack of comments here?

    And it’s not just the death threats. The death threats were advanced by social misfits who in ordinary circumstances no one would pay attention to for two seconds. The bigger problem is the failure of people like Jack Bogle and Bill Bernstein and Larry Swedroe and Scott Burns to speak up and demand that something be done about those death threats and all the other intimidation tactics that you Goons have employed.

    When Bogle speaks up, it is over, Sparky.

    From that day forward, I will have not just hundreds of comments at this blog every day, I will have thousands.

    That’s why I built the Retire Early board at Motley Fool into the most successful board in that site’s history in the first place. I want thousands of comments every day. And I want a thriving community of people helping those thousands of people to save and invest more effectively.

    When your prison term is announced, that news is going to go viral. And then it will be over. The ugly part, I mean. The wonderful, life-enhancing exploration of the realities of saving and investing will continue for years and years and years.

    Do I like it that my success depends on you being sent to prison?

    I do not like it one tiny bit.

    That’s why I have spoken out against the intimidation tactics going back to the first day.

    I don’t control everything that happens in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, do I, Sparky?

    If it were up to me, there would be thousands of comments here every day and you would not be on your way to prison. It’s not up to just me. So I have been forced to watch it play out this other way instead.

    I wish you all the best, my long-time abusive posting friend.

    Rob

  5. Rob says

    There is no conspiracy.

    Former Financial Analysts Journal Editor Rob Arnott copied Jack Bogle on his e-mail to me saying that my investing ideas are “sound” and sharing with me his own experiences with intimidation being employed to stop academic researchers from doing the research that we all need to see to learn how stock investing really works. Jack did not respond.

    I don’t think “conspiracy” is precisely the correct word to describe what is going on here. But there is certainly some sort of funny business going on when Jack Bogle does not offer a public response to an e-mail of that nature. No?

    Please explain Bogle’s failure to respond to Rob Arnott’s e-mail from your perspective that there is no “conspiracy” going on re these matters.

    Rob

  6. Rob says

    You are delusional.

    You were one of the ones saying that on the morning of May 13, 2002, when I put up my famous post pointing out the errors in the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies.

    In the past year or two, every major publication in this field has acknowledged that I was right.

    Is it Rob Bennett who is delusional? Or is it the “experts” who continue to try to “defend” Buy-and-Hold in the face of 32 years of peer-reviewed academic research showing that there is precisely zero chance that this strategy can ever work for a single long-term investor?

    Rob

  7. Rob says

    You have been banned from a large number of boards.

    And I have seen a good percentage of the site administrators who banned me write me notes APOLOGIZING for the bans and telling me that they see great value in my work.

    Odd?

    Rob

  8. sparky says

    Rob,

    So, if your 140 responses were considered to be positive backing, that means that less than 2% of people are in support of you. Name any crackpot idea and you usually find that 2 or 3% of the population will support that position. That is really not a great percentage.

    You like to talk about threats and intimidation and then you say that I am going to prison. What hypocrisy. Perhaps you could enlighten me on the particular crime that I have been charged with.

    As to not getting responses, no one owes you anything. Further, with the various bannings and other comments, you seem to be viewed as a nuisance.

  9. sparky says

    Rob,

    Focus on the reason why your were banned. Stop with your delusional crap about having your message silenced (conspiracy theory). Get a clue, Inspector Gadget.

  10. Rob says

    As to not getting responses, no one owes you anything.

    Jack Bogle owes every investor who has followed a Buy-and-Hold strategy (and they number in the millions) an explanation of why he did not correct the errors he made in development of the strategy promptly following Shiller’s publication of the research showing them to be errors, Sparky.

    With great influence comes great responsibility.

    Rob

  11. Rob says

    Focus on the reason why your were banned.

    I have been banned because Bogle did not promptly apologize for the mistakes he made in development of the Buy-and-Hold strategy.

    Had Bogle apologized in 1981, people would have left Buy-and-Hold behind a long, long time ago. I was banned because I report honestly and accurately what the academic research shows us about how stock investing works. It causes the Buy-and-Holders great emotional pain to realize how much better off they would be today had they never been taken in by the claims that were made for this strategy.

    It has never been my purpose to cause a single person pain. Discovering the errors in the Old School retirement studies was a wonderful, wonderful thing. Showing investors what they need to do to reduce stock investing risk by 70 percent was even more wonderful. I have precisely zero to apologize for, Sparky.

    But the pain felt by the Buy-and-Holders is real.

    I am the one trying to do something about it. I have urged Bogle to quickly give the speech he should have given 30 years ago. That’s how we address the pain of the Buy-and-Holders in a constructive and positive and life-affirming way. That’s how we put all this ugliness behind us and move forward together.

    If an angel had come down from heaven when Jack Bogle was a young man and told him that before the end of his life he would have the opportunity to show people how to reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent, he would have been dancing on the ceiling re his good fortune. Jack has that opportunity today. He needs to realize that acknowledging a mistake is often the first step to achieving a great learning experience. All of those of us who consider him a friend should be urging him today to give that speech by the close of business today.

    Please send your e-mail to Jack now, Sparky. Please do not wait until later today. If Jack is going to give the speech tomorrow, preparations need to be made. He needs to know EARLY today, not later on today.

    Rob

  12. Rob says

    Name any crackpot idea and you usually find that 2 or 3% of the population will support that position. That is really not a great percentage.

    No one employs death threats and board bannings and tens of thousands of acts of defamation and threats to get academic researchers fired from their jobs to “defend” their ideas from the challenges raised by crackpots, Sparky. Your own behavior tells the tale here.

    Rob

  13. Rob says

    you seem to be viewed as a nuisance.

    I am viewed as a nuisance and a lot worse by people who are still turning a buck through the promotion of Buy-and-Hold strategies 32 years after the peer-reviewed academic research showed that there is precisely zero chance that such a strategy could ever work for even a single long-term investor. That much is certainly fair to say, Sparky.

    Rob

  14. sparky says

    Rob,

    Seriously, take a look at what you have posted today in just this one thread. You are so caught up in your fantasy world. You have an excuse or cast blame on everything else versus examining what you are doing.

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