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.
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!