Robert Savickas, GWU Associate Finance Professor: “The More I Live and the More I Learn, the More I Realize How Naive and Arrogant We Humans Are. We Know So Little But We Think We Know So Much.”

I’ve been contacting numerous people, letting them know about my article reporting on The Silencing of Academic Researcher Wade Pfau by The Buy-and-Hold Mafia.

Friday’s blog entry reported on my correspondence with Robert Savickas, Associate Finance Professor at George Washington University School of Business. Set forth below is the text of the e-mail that Robert sent me in response to the e-mail of mine described in the earlier blog entry:

Hi Rob,

>
“That’s scary because it means we don’t know it all today and we are kidding ourselves if we act like we do.”
>
Yes, that’s actually the feeling I get about all human knowledge and science. The more I live and the more I learn, the more I realize how amazingly the world has been made and how much we don’t know with our finite minds.  The more I realize how naive and arrogant we, humans, are.  We know so little but we think we know so much.  We claim to have dominion over nature, but she can really mess a lot of stuff up with a single hurricane or other such thing and we can’t do anything but run and hide like a bunch of mice… All our claims to greatness evaporate in such cases.
>
So, I figure it is good to do research and to advance science, etc., but we have to realize that we may never find the truth because of our limited minds; the best we can hope for us to asymptotically approach the truth but never get there (OK, may be in that last day when all things will become obvious, but I am getting ahead of myself).  So, that helps us to size our claims…
>
Just giving you some random stuff out of my head.
>
Robert
>
I wrote back:
>
Robert:

>
We are in complete agreement.
>
I’ll add one additional troubling element.
>
The more important it is that we be humble in our approach to an issue, the less able we are to proceed in a humble way.
>
The reason we aren’t able to question ourselves in the investing realm is that we know how horrible the consequences would be if we got this one wrong.
>
Still, we’ve made it this far. So perhaps we will stumble into something good once again. We sometimes manage to figure things out despite ourselves.
>
Rob

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    Such brilliance in your response must make the wife and kids proud. When they ask you what you did at your “job” today, you can point out this thread.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments links could be nofollow free.