Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the Suckers Buy It! forum:
The purpose of this thread-starter is to offer some ideas on how blog and site owners can obtain big-name endorsements for their work. The obvious benefit of doing so is that big-name endorsements give you the credibility you need to persuade customers to buy your products and services. They can also help you obtain citations in big-name media outlets, which can generate traffic gains.
I have a slide show at the upper right-hand side of my home page that sets forth my 15 most important endorsements:
A more complete collection of them is set forth at the “People Are Talking” section of my “A Rich Life” blog, which runs down the left-hand side of each page of the blog:
I need to tell a little of the story of where the state of knowledge of how stock investing works stands today to explain how I obtained these endorsements. There are two models for understanding how stock investing works: (1) The Buy-and-Hold Model, which is rooted in the research of University of Chicago Economics Professor Eugene Fama and which has been the dominant model for several decades; and (2) The Valuation-Informed Indexing Model (I gave it that name), which is rooted in the research of Yale University Economic Professor Robert Shiller. The allocation strategies that follow from the two models are VERY different.
Few people have ever heard of the new VII model or are able to appreciate quickly how it works. But there is now 32 years of peer-reviewed research supporting it. In contrast, there is no research supporting the Buy-and-Hold Model. Lots of smart and good people think there is. But if Shiller is right, the Buy-and-Hold Model was rooted in a mistaken interpretation of the historical return data. Interpreted properly, none of the data available to us today supports Buy-and-Hold ([presuming that you believe in the VII Model).
Shiller is a well-respected figure. He wrote the book Irrational Exuberance, which was a best-seller and which was reviewed at most of the top-name publications. I discovered some years back an amazing reality: No one has ever explored the practical implications of Shiller’s findings. Shiller discusses only theory in his book; it contains not a word on how to invest effectively. And there is not one web site today other than my own that explores the practical significance of his findings. I have had this field to myself for 11 years now.
That’s why I have been able to obtain all these powerful endorsements. I believe that what I have done in the investing field can be done in lots of fields by people possessing a reasonable amount of intelligence (all that I possess) who take advantage of opportunities created by the creation of the internet.
What I do is bounce ideas off people. I started with things that seemed to be obviously true. For example, I found that a calculation (the safe withdrawal rate) that millions of people have used to plan their retirements is in error. I went to discussion boards and blogs and asked people whether they were able to explain why the studies were set up the way they were (they excluded from consideration a key factor — the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins). At first, I assumed that I must have missed something. But when I saw lots of smart people were not able to respond effectively to my inquiries, I came to accept that I really was on to something.
Then I went higher. I started writing to columnists at major newspapers and that sort of thing. Sometimes I got hostile responses. Again, that told me that I was onto something. Other times I got helpful feedback. That of course helped me to put pieces of the puzzle together. Never did I obtain reasonable explanations of why the valuations factor was excluded from consideration. So I grew more and more confident that there was some strange stuff going on.
I now believe that strange stuff like this probably is going on in all sorts of areas. We are cowed by “experts.” Lots of times experts are just people who learned to repeat back what they read in a book written years ago. We are learning new things all the time. But the new knowledge often does not get put to use because people do not see any immediate financial benefit in putting it to use (that is the issue in the investing realm — I am virtually certain today that Shiller is right but people have not wanted to say so because for the time being there are marketing benefits associated with going with the Fama model).
My biggest success came as a result of posts that I put to the Bogleheads Forum. A researcher named Wade Pfau never posted to the forum at the time but he was as a lurker reading my posts with great interest. He eventually wrote to me to ask if I would be willing to work with him to develop research that he and I believe may someday down the road win a Nobel prize. We worked together for 16 months and the research paper has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. We showed that by adjusting their stock allocations in response to valuation changes investors can reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent. If that finding holds up (all signs are that it will), it is going to change all that we know about stock investing in a fundamental way.
The trick here is to come to the subject you write about with the perspective of a journalist rather than a marketer. Marketing is what generally wins on the internet. I made my living as a journalist for years before starting my site — So I have the head of a journalist. Journalists don’t tend to look for what is popular or what sells. We look for what is important in a long-term sense. We have an inclination to ask lots of annoying questions. We don’t buy it when authority figures try to give us the run around. We drill down until we figure things out, until we can put a narrative together that solves all the puzzles that trouble us.
I couldn’t have done what I have done in pre-internet days. The internet allows me easily to contact people all over the globe. When I was in communication with Wade, we would often send several e-mails back and forth to each other in a single day. Things would have moved forward at a deadly slow pace if we hadn’t been able to do that. Also, I have had a level of access to big names that I would not have had in earlier days. I announced one day that I was going to appear at the next annual meeting of the Bogleheads community to ask John Bogle some questions. The leaders of the board took the entire board down from the Morningstar site so that they could ban me and “protect” Bogle. That told me that Bogle does not believe that he can give effective answers to my questions.
That’s the basic idea. If anyone has questions, I am happy to help in any way that I can.