Set forth below is the text of a comment recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
The lack of any supporting comments on this board speaks volumes, Rob. No, people are not afraid to post here as they would be anonymous.
The lack of supporting comments certainly tells us something important, Anonymous. You and I do not agree re what it tells us. But we are 100 percent in agreement that it is a telling reality.
You are of course correct that people are free to post anonymously here. So it is not that they are afraid that the Goons are going to come after them and kill their family members or whatever. That is not the sort of fear we are dealing with in this case.
We’ve talked about Joe Taxpayer recently. I have said that I would like to see more from him. He had been supportive. He opposes the Ban on Honest Posting. But I would like to see him go another step. I would like him to write a blog entry saying that he thinks the Ban on Honest Posting is a shameful thing and that all bloggers should oppose it. I would like him to try to organize all his blogger friends to speak up against this stuff.
Is Joe afraid? Yes, he is afraid. If he wasn’t afraid, he would do what I describe above.
He is not as afraid as some others. He worked up the courage to say that he believes the Ban on Honest Posting is wrong. He worked up the courage to call you Goons out on your nonsense. So he is less afraid than most. But he takes some steps and then he fails to take others. He is a hero. But he is not a perfect being. None of us are, of course.
I was afraid. I didn’t post about the errors in the Old School studies from May 1999 to May 2002. What do you think was up with that? It’s hard to believe today that I kept it zipped all that time, isn’t it? But I did. Why? What was I afraid of? I never dreamed that any of the Goon stuff that we have seen over the past 12 years was even remotely possible back in those days. But I never spoke up. Why? What held me back?
Humans are social creatures.
If you don’t get that, you cannot get any of the rest of it. That part is fundamental.
Bull markets are social phenomena.
You could never have a bull market if people were not afraid to speak up. We obviously had a huge bull market. So there obviously were a lot of fearful people. That’s by definition. You know that just by looking at the P/E10 level. When you have a P/E10 level of 44, you have millions of fearful people. You couldn’t have it any other way.
It’s not cartoonish things that people are afraid of. People are not afraid that you are going to come to your house and shoot them. People are afraid that they will be out of step with the majority. People are afraid that lots of people will think they are dumb. People are afraid that people will yell at them. People are afraid that, if they talk openly about another crash, that will somehow cause one to come. People are afraid that we are going to see a deepening of the economic collapse and don’t want to talk about it or hear about it because it scares them. People are afraid that there are groups starting to lose confidence in our political system. People are afraid that they will not have enough money to retire and that they will lose access to the comfort offered by the Buy-and-Holders if they think things through carefully and come to realize why those comforts are illusory.
People are afraid of all sorts of things, Anonymous.
Wade talked about it in the comments he posted here after his flip. He wrote one on which he said: “I don’t see how you are going to end up being seen as the good guy.” He said almost the same thing at the Bogleheads Forum. He said: “Some of you see anyone pushing market timing as a snake-oil salesman and you are disdainful of it. I don’t want you to think of me that way.”
He does’t want you to dislike him, Anonymous. That’s his fear.
I know how it goes. I don’t want you to dislike me either. The difference with me is that I have an even bigger fear of selling out my fellow community members. I feel that I am worthless to you and to everyone else if I do not post honestly. So I stick to that one no matter what. I don’t give an inch on that one.
My famous May 13, 2002, post ended not with a period but with a question mark. That was fear.
My apology on the night of Day Three was rooted in fear.
I held back for a long time from saying the words “analytically invalid.” That was fear.
I held back for a long time from saying that I know more about how stock investing works than Jack Bogle. That was fear.
I held back for a long time from saying that you Goons are headed to prison. That was fear.
It’s all about fear. There is no intellectual debate here. If you Goons believed that Buy-and-Hold could survive a civil and reasoned debate, you would invite a civil and reasoned debate. You don’t believe that for two seconds. You believe that Buy-and-Hold can survive only for so long as effective challenges to it are prohibited. That’s why you behave as you do.
You follow Buy-and-Hold yourselves. Following a strategy is a sign that you believe in it. You pass that test. There is a sense in which you believe.
But you do not possess confidence in the strategy you follow. It causes you great emotional pain to hear it challenged effectively. Confidence is another marker of belief. You fail that test. There is a sense in which you do not believe at all.
You are in the worst of all worlds. You believe enough that you cannot bear to listen to challenges. So you will stick with Buy-and-Hold until prices are at rock bottom. But you lack the confidence to continue holding when prices hit rock bottom and when every media organ is saying that no middle-class person should ever even consider putting money into stocks. The same social pressures that caused you to tune out the last 33 years of peer-reviewed academic research will cause you to sell your stocks when prices hit rock bottom.
That’s called capitulation. It’s when the last Buy-and-Hold Goon sells his shares that the market (that’s us!) is able to turn up again for an extended period of time.
You happened to be born at a time that led to you investing heavily in stocks at the worst time in history for doing that. You know it on one level of consciousness (while fiercely denying it on another). You are scared out of your freakin’ wits. So scared that you can’t even let it in that you are scared at all. And you will be even more scared after the next crash.
I didn’t do any of that to you.
I don’t say that the people who did it to you meant to hurt you. I don’t believe that. Those people are scared too.
I say that I am not playing my role if I don’t post honestly. I am saying that it cannot possibly be the right answer for me to agree to say things I don’t believe for two seconds.
And I wish you well in all your future endeavors, my old friend.