“I Have Engaged in Hard Self-Evaluation Every Day for 10 Years Running Now. I Have Come to the Conclusion That It Is Possible That I Am Wrong.”

Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recent put to a discussion thread at this blog: 

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

Comments

  1. The Pink Unicorn says

    Rob,

    I checked with sparky. He doesn’t think you have really done the hard self evaluation. He mentioned the fact that Wade has asked you to stop talking about him and that you have caused him so much more harm, you really need to go back with the hard soul searching. In fact, Wade’s comments seem to blow a hole in your email campaign. Sparky saw the link Yip recently provided showing Wade’s own comments. That doesn’t look good for you, Rob.

  2. The Pink Unicorn says

    Rob,

    Sparky was talking about Wade’s comments. Not your interpretations. In fact, he pointed out a portion of Wade quotes as follow:

    “The reality is that though I may have for a brief moment got a bit too caught up in YOUR drama, I do not have any fears about the Goons.

    The reality is that you are causing me 1000x more career damage than the Goons ever could have by filling Google with so much nonsense about me, and sharing embarrassing private details such as my overly ambitious journal submission strategies, etc. Those in particular are highly private. People don’t publicly share where they submit articles to unless those articles are accepted. You’ve violated my trust in so many countless ways and yet you still proclaim to be my friend. ”

    It looks as though Wade is the injured party and you are the person who is causing injury.

  3. Rob says

    I engaged in regular e-mail correspondence with Wade over a 16-month time-period, Pink. He advanced HUNDREDS of comments during that time-period that are 100 percent at odds with the comment you cite, a comment that followed your threats to send defamatory e-mails to his employer with the aim of getting him fired from his job, threats which did not evoke a response from Jack Bogle or Larry Swedroe or Bill Bernstein or Rick Ferri or anyone else at the Bogleheads Forum.

    It is these sorts of threats and intimidation tactics that will be examined in the criminal proceedings for financial fraud by which you will be sent to prison.

    I think it is fair to say that the jury is not going to be too concerned about what the victim of the threats said in response to the threats. The jury will want to know why he was threatened and by whom and who knew about the intimidation tactics that have been going on for 11 years now and has failed to take appropriate action.

    I have offered to do what I can to get your prison sentence shortened a bit. I cannot do anything without your cooperation.

    I wish you well.

    Rob

  4. The Pink Unicorn says

    So now you are calling Wade a liar? You are also lying about me. The only threats I see are coming from you. I don’t think your pretend jury would respond well to a liar, Rob.

  5. Rob says

    Wade lied after he was threatened.

    He has two small children for whom he has financial responsibility.

    He never should have been threatened.

    There should be no Buy-and-Hold Mafia.

    Bogle should acknowledge his mistake publicly and his acknowledgement should be written up in the New York Times so that we can all move on.

    We all should be doing what we can to bring an end to this economic crisis.

    All of this is 100 percent obvious to anyone who is thinking about these matters clearly.

    I mean, come on.

    Rob

  6. Rob says

    I don’t think your pretend jury would respond well to a liar, Rob.

    I’ll take my chances with 5,000 juries before I will agree to post dishonestly re the numbers that my friends use to plan their retirements, Pink.

    That tells you what you need to know to know how to proceed.

    I naturally wish you all good things.

    Rob

  7. The Pink Unicorn says

    Rob,

    So you are still sticking to the fact that you think Wade lied in a private email to you. Hmmmmmm……..I am not buying it. I will try my best to convince the Jury that they should be lenient on your jail time, but it won’t be easy. I can’t help you at all when you have to pay the $500 million settlement that you will owe as well. We don’t make a lot as Unicorns, so there is little we can do for you.

  8. what says

    It doesn’t matter, even if you are right. Not one bit. Because everyone thinks you are a complete ass and you will be long forgotten when someone actually does anything semi-productive with the vague notions you have been spewing for 10+ years.

  9. Rob says

    You’re wrong, What.

    You pretend to think I am an ass. You are in a tiny minority. When I go to the Financial Bloggers Conferences, I meet lots of people. Not one of them has ever indicated in any way to suggest that he or she thinks I am an ass.

    People are EMBARRASSED. That much is so.

    People are SCARED. That much is so.

    People are CONFUSED. That much is so.

    That’s not at all the same thing as thinking I am an ass.

    I have seen a parallel case showing how this will turn out. My site host (SiteSell) is owned by a fellow named “Ken Evoy.” He is a smart guy and he came up with some ideas for how to get traffic on the internet that were ahead of their time. His ideas worked for a good number of years. People LOVED him. I never followed his system because it didn’t make sense for what I am trying to do with my site. But I certainly noticed how much people loved the guy. It was over the top.

    The Evoy system no longer works since Google came out with its Panda and Penguin changes. People don’t say “Oh, Evoy had good ideas but Google has changed.” Hardly anyone does that. There is one group, smaller than before, that continues to love him to this day. That group says that Panda and Penguin don’t affect the system despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Another group now hates the guy with a burning passion. Their businesses have failed. They blame him.

    Evoy is John Bogle.

    Bogle is very smart. Bogle did things no one before him was able to do. Bogle deserves to be lauded as a hero. I laud him as a hero and always will. But I do that with an appreciation of the one thing he got wrong. Those who today laud him without an appreciation of the thing he got wrong are going to turn on him after the next price crash. I OPPOSE that. I think that’s a mistake. But I cannot control the world. I am virtually sure that that is what is going to happen.

    I am not certain to succeed. But the risk for me is not the risk you point to. If people reach a point where they are willing to hear the realities of stock investing, I have the only site on the internet with 11 years of material exploring those realities. My site will go viral if a good percentage of the population opens up to the message. I am not worried about what happens to me in that event. In that event, I won’t have to file any legal papers to enjoy a $500 million payday. I will have multiple parties pushing the money on me, asking me to take it fast to help them with their guilt feelings.

    My risk is that people are going to become excessively disillusioned with Buy-and-Hold. Valuation-Informed Indexing is Buy-and-Hold with one change. If people come to hate Buy-and-Hold with a burning passion, their emotionalism may cause them to tune out Valuation-Informed Indexing as well on the grounds that they just cannot bear to hear about anything that even reminds them of Buy-and-Hold.

    If you were smart, you would join me in doing what you can to insure that that doesn’t happen. People don’t hate Buy-and-Hold today. So, if the Buy-and-Holders joined forces with me, we could stop the next crash from happening and all would be well on about 20 different fronts. But I obviously don’t control what people do. I am not expecting the Buy-and-Holders to help out. I hope they will. I urge them to. But I understand that that part of this is out of my hands.

    I think you are wrong in your take as to how things will play out. I think you are being emotional once again. You are so ashamed of what you have done over the 11 years that you would rather see the entire planet go to hell over seeing Rob Bennett get any acknowledgment for the amazing work he has done over these past 11 years.

    That’s on you, What. Your hate doesn’t just hurt me. It hurts you too. In very, very serious ways. It so blinds you that you cannot even see how much it is hurting you. All I can do is type out those words and hope that they cause some melting of your heart. I have said many times that I am happy to help you in any possible way and I of course stand by those words today. If you are too filled with false pride to accept my help, then that’s just the way it is. It makes me very sad. But there’s not one darn thing I can do to change the situation if that is indeed what the situations is (all signs indicate that it is).

    I wish you well, man. I will keep on saying that with a hope that one of the times I say it the message will get through to a part of you that remains capable of hearing it.

    Rob

  10. The Pink Unicorn says

    Rob,

    Even us unicorns know that people won’t tell you to your face that you are an ass. People, on the whole, will be polite in face to face discussions. There is no evidence of a vast conspiracy. You have been banned from so many sites because of your actions and demeanor. It is clear you are wrong and you made that more evident when you called Wade liar. Additionally, my personal experience also shows you to lack credibility when you lied about me. There is clear evidence that you lie about others on here on a regular basis as we can look at their posts and watch you respond.

    You admit that you have been doing this for 11 years. Do you notice that your message is not going anywhere, yet you have some delusion that it will go “viral”.

    Wake up, Rob

  11. Rob says

    People who think you are an ass don’t say to you “your site is the best site I have seen in this area, I just love your investing ideas and have read every article you have written in an effort to learn more about them.” Give me a friggin’ break, Pink.

    Now, the person that sent that message to me (I paraphrased but that was indeed the message) ALSO banned me from his site. So there are bits and pieces of what you say that are so. But the explanation of the EXCEEDINGLY strange situation is not that people think I am an ass. The explanation is that even the smartest people in this field are afraid today to go public with their doubts about Buy-and-Hold.

    Whether there is a “conspiracy” or not depends on how you use the word. There are not people meeting in smoke-filled rooms plotting all this. But there are lots of people behaving in a similar manner when faced with similar sorts of circumstances. That’s been demonstrated THOUSANDS of times at this point.

    You say I have been banned because of my “actions and demeanor.” Yes and no. It is an ACTION to report the safe withdrawal rate accurately. It is part of my DEMEANOR that I offer no apology for having done so when Buy-and-Holders react with anger. If that is what you mean by saying that my action and demeanor caused my bans, then sure, you are right.

    How the heck do you think we are ever going to make the transition from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing without someone advancing that sort of action and demeanor, Pink? We need to get from Point A to Point B. It doesn’t happen if I say “oh, here’s my personal withdrawal rate” and then leave the discussion. I need to say “calculations of the safe withdrawal rate that do not contain an adjustment for the valuation level that applies on the start-date of the retirement are in error.” It is that statement that the Buy-and-Holders consider an action and a demeanor that cannot be tolerated. I am trying to REPLACE Buy-and-Hold with Valuation-Informed Indexing. The Buy-and-Holders are trying to defend Buy-and-Hold. We are working at cross purposes.

    I have every right in the world to tell millions of middle-class people what they need to know to lose confidence in Buy-and-Hold. The move from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing is the biggest advance we have achieved as a people in the history of investing analysis. So please don’t suffer any illusions that I am going to back off that project. That is the project that I have been pursuing since the morning of May 13, 2002. With great pride. With great tenacity. With great diligence. With great hope. With great love.

    I hope that part is crystal clear at this point. Please don’t ever suggest again that there might be some future date at which I would agree to say things in some gibberish way that would cause the Buy-and-Holders to let me post on the internet but that would not permit me to get the message out to millions of middle-class investors that the millions of middle-class investors very much need to hear. Those are my people, Pink. Those are my friends. I am going to get this message out to those people or I am going to die trying. There is zero chance of any deals being worked out re that point. Please give up that stupid, pointless dream!

    Wade will be tried to a court of law. He will present his evidence and the state will present its evidence. That’s the way the system works. I will do everything in my power to spin things in Wade’s favor. I will not commit perjury. Fair enough?

    I will handle things in precisely the same manner in your trial. Obviously the things I say will be different because the realities are different. But the spirit in which I will approach my obligation to testify will be the same in both cases. The rule I follow is to be as honest as it is possible to be without crossing an important line and becoming uncharitable while also being as charitable as it is possible to be without crossing another important line and becoming dishonest. That’s the story re that one.

    Your take on the 11-year history couldn’t possibly be more different than my own, Pink. I have accomplished things over these 11 years that I never would have dared dream possible. I had a conversation just yesterday with a woman who is doing some technical work on my site. She marveled over the endorsements I have obtained. I was humbled. If you had told me back when I was a boy growing up in Northeast Philadelphia that scores of the biggest names in the personal finance field would be saying the sorts of things that scores of the biggest names in the personal finance field have said about Rob Bennett’s investing work over the past 11 years, I would have said that you were 100 percent loco nutso mixed-up crazytown. And yet here we are.

    I am 100 percent convinced that the message will go viral, Pink. I have zero doubt.

    I worry that it will take a Second Great Depression to make it happen. That prospect scares me to death. So I don’t mean to suggest that I am comfortable about where things stand today. I am not even a tiny bit comfortable. I am very concerned about where things stand today.

    But I do not CONTROL that question. I have to accept that things are how things are. It is not my call. There are other people who have to get involved to make good things happen and, as of this morning, those other people have not elected to get involved. That’s the story there.

    If Shiller is right (there is now a mountain of evidence that he is), the next price crash is going to put us in the Second Great Depression. That can be proven with numbers, Pink. If you don’t think that news that we are in Second Great Depression and that the Wall Street Con Men’s decisions to continue pumping out this Buy-and-Hold garbage for 32 years after the peer-reviewed academic research showed that there is precisely zero chance that it could ever work for a single long-term investor is going to go viral, then you are a dang fool. No personal offense intended. I know of no softer words to convey the essential point.

    I’m awake, Pink. I was awake on the morning of May 13, 2002. Getting the numbers that people use to plan their retirements right matters. I am not guessing. I am SURE.

    I naturally wish you all the best things that this life has to offer, my old friend.

    Rob

  12. Rob says

    I’ll be darned if I can figure out how that is so, Pink.

    The one card that I can think of that you can play is to have Bogle’s friends sue me and try to crush me that way.

    Do it!

    I don’t WANT you to do it. But the reality is that I would prefer to go to prison over posting dishonestly on safe withdrawal rates. So there’s nothing that anyone can do to me that would cause me to change course. There are no other cards.

    You’re suggesting that all the Wall Street Con Men will switch over to Valuation-Informed Indexing after the next crash and that I will get no recognition for the 11 years of work I have done because the Con Men will continue to encourage you Goons to keep me off the internet.

    I guess you can try that.

    I do not believe it will work.

    People are not that evil. People are flawed. But they are not that evil. You might get some of the Wall Street Con Men to go along with that. But do you really think that every journalist in the United States is going to go along with the cover-up? Really?

    And every blogger is going to go along? All financial bloggers? And all political bloggers? And all Tea Party bloggers? And all economics bloggers? ALL of them? None of them will have an interest in this story, even after we are in the Second Great Depression and the Wall Street Con Men are acknowledging that they messed up (and denying only that Rob Bennett pointed this out 11 years earlier)?

    I have been wrong before. I suppose there is some theoretical sense in which It could be happening again. But I just do not see it, my old friend. I cannot even imagine a scenario in which it plays out the way you are saying.

    How about that guy at Business Week who responded to my e-mail and put up a tweet linking to it and saying “I have no idea” of the truth of the matter. He’s going to keep his mouth shut if it comes out that this was all a cover-up going back to the first day?

    How about Arnott? Can you count on him?

    How about Wade? Can you really count on him? He might not be as scared after the Con Men acknowledge that Buy-and-Hold doesn’t work. Can you be sure that he will not want to point anyone to the research he did years before the Con Men acknowledged their mistake? That research paper has my name on it, Pink.

    I just don’t think you can pull this off. I didn’t think you could pull it off on the morning of May 13, 2002 either. You’ve done it for 11 years. So count that into your thinking if you like. But I don’t believe you will be able to pull it off following another crash. If you are being sincere re your assessment (I have my doubts), then all I can say is that our assessments of where things are headed are very, very, very different.

    If it all turns out as you say, I will acknowledge that you were right about this. I acknowledge today that the mountain has turned out to be about 500 times harder to climb than I anticipated on the morning of May 13, 2002. But I have to go with what I truly believe. And this is not one re which I entertain any doubt whatsoever. I am 99.99999 percent sure re the particular point that you are bringing to the table here.

    You have my best wishes, in any event.

    Rob

  13. The Pink Unicorn says

    Rob,

    Are you planning on using the insanity plea? Just tell them you believe in unicorns.

  14. Rob says

    Yes, I am going to use the insanity plea, Pink.

    I am going to say that everyone who works in this field has learned over the past 11 years that the The Buy-and-Hold Mafia has demonstrated that it is willing to be 100 percent ruthless in its efforts to make sure that the millions of middle-class people who very, very much need to know what the last 32 years of peer-reviewed academic says about stock investing never hear what they need to hear and that I just cannot seem to grasp the concept.

    We’ll run that past the jury and see whether I get the death penalty or only life in prison.

    Fair enough?

    Rob

  15. The Pink Unicorn says

    The insanity plea hasn’t worked that well as of recent, Rob. It seems you are working overtime to improve your chances at this plea. Too bad that people like Wade have to suffer because of your personal campaign.

  16. Rob says

    There are hundreds of millions of people suffering as a result of this global economic crisis, Pink.

    There is now 32 years of peer-reviewed academic research showing that the primary cause of the crisis was the relentless and ruthless and reckless promotion of Buy-and-Hold by the Wall Street Con Men. We’re not talking opinion here. We’re talking numbers.

    I’m proud to be able to say that I first objected to the Campaign of Terror on the morning of May 13, 2002, the morning it began. I hope to gain a reputation all across the internet as the #1 critic of Buy-and-Hold alive on Planet Earth today (while also gaining a reputation as the fellow who showed how powerful the many genuine insights provided by the Buy-and-Hold pioneers become when they are used as part of a strategy that rejects the Get Rich Quick element that serves as the driver of the draft version.

    My best wishes to you and yours.

    Rob

  17. what says

    Free and open?!?!? Even here there is no freedom! How can we advance without honest posting?

  18. Rob says

    I am going to continue to remove posts that contain threats of physical violence or that advance other intimidation tactics, Pink.

    I wish you all good things in any event.

    Rob

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