Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to the Investor Junkie blog:
I approve comments that make legit counterpoints. I do not know the full history with Early Retirement Forum, nor do I personally care.
His comment is a legit question (though the personal attack is not). If the commentator does not keep it on topic, he will be banned and comments removed (same applies to you also).
Otherwise I do not moderate and allow each to have their own opinion.
I agree with you that the Goons sometimes ask legitimate questions, Larry. If you look at my blog , you will see that I permit the Goons to post there. A LOT. One of the reasons is that they do sometimes present legitimate questions that we all can learn from (especially me — I obviously need to hear challenges to my thinking). I have two hour-long podcasts at my site that were inspired by questions posed by the Goons.
The Goons really do follow Buy-and-Hold strategies. They post lots of insincere stuff. But they do themselves follow the strategies they recommend to others. That’s one test of sincerity.
So it is not my position that the Goons should not be permitted to participate in discussions in any way, shape or form. They are part of what it going on and to fully understand all of what is going on, we need to understand what drives the Goons. That’s part of the story.
All that said, I think there is a problem if no one comments on their tactics. That fellow at Early Retirement Forum deserved to be able to engage in civil and reasoned discussion. We all miss out when the board is intimidated by a few insanely nasty personalities. I DO care greatly about the Early Retirement Forum. I spent years of my life building it up. There are hundreds of wonderful people there who would like to be having very different sorts of discussions. That board was once a great learning resource for everyone in the Retire Early Community and it is obviously not that today and that is a very, very unfortunate reality in my assessment.
My sense is that you are saying that you don’t want to be the one to comment on these sorts of things because you are the site owner and moderator here. That makes some sense. I hope others will feel encouraged to comment on these process issues. There have been thousands of people who have expressed a desire that honest posting be permitted. I have spoken to lots of professionals in this field who would like to talk openly about their real beliefs about how stock investing works but who do not feel safe doing so because of what they have seen from the Goons. The economic crisis hurts us all. So we are all being hurt by the reluctance of these many smart people to speak out.
The overlying reality here is is that we are in the transition years from Buy-and-Hold to Valuation-Informed Indexing. All of the evidence now goes in one direction. But it has been difficult to make this change because lots of smart people once really believed in Buy-and-Hold and those people built careers around their promotion of it. The tactics we see from the Goons reveal the desperate nature of the effort to “defend” Buy-and-Hold at this late date, over 30 years from the day the peer-reviewed research discrediting it was published. It may be that you should not comment on these issues in this thread but I very much think it would be a plus if you commented on them in a separate article at some later date. The process issue here is a big issue.
The difference between Buy-and-Hold and Valuation-Informed Indexing is that Buy-and-Hoid ignores investor emotion while Valuation-Informed Indexing takes investor emotion into account. Part of the transition we need to make as a society is in coming to understand that we must talk openly about not just the numbers of investing but also the emotions of investing. Pretty much all of us are uncomfortable about it today because with Buy-and-Hold emotions were just presumed not to matter. For 11 years now, we have been seeing emotions evidence themselves, often in very juvenile and destructive ways. That’s an investing issue. Investor emotions are an investing issue. It wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration for me to say that that is the core point of the entire VII project.
Anyway, I am grateful to Miranda for conducting the interview and writing it up and to you for hosting her article. Anything that gets these ideas out before more people is a plus. If there are any others who would like to comment on the emotionalism we have been seeing from our Goon friends, I hope that they will feel encouraged to speak up. When they put it on display at a public forum, it becomes a legitimate issue for all of us to comment on.