Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
There IS no such such Ban, as you well know. The only applicable ban is the one regarding a single mentally ill persistent troll, for his rotten BEHAVIOR, not for his bizarre beliefs. Shiller can post, Easterling can post, etc.
Any of a host of perma-bears, timers, wave-speculators, kooks, cranks, swindlers, and nuts can post on pretty much any board out there. In fact, right up until his demise, even that twisted old codger, the irascible JWR was perfectly free to post.
The only major ban I know of is for YOU, personally, at more than a dozen finance boards.
You said you hoped to veer off into writing at political boards next, and I very much suspect that the pattern will repeat itself there, as well, even in the wild-and-wooly world of internet political wrangling. That would be quite a feat for even you, Rob, to attain multiple bans in that freak show.
You are making a legitimate point, Helper. Thanks for being frank in your comment. Frankness always helps to bring real issues to the table.
John Walter Russell was ultimately banned at one or two places. But it was an exceedingly rare thing for him to be banned. During the time we were working together on a daily basis, there were several places where he was praised on a daily basis and where I was banned. He would get into trouble only when he talked about me. And John always got more comments posted at his site, even though I had more traffic at my site. When I would post at John’s site, there were people who would be turned off, even though the two of us were saying the same thing (obviously in somewhat different ways).
I also agree with you that lots of kooks and cranks and nuts are permitted to post at just about every site at which I have been banned.
I half agree and half disagree with what you say about Shiller and Easterling. Whether they were banned or not would depend on how strongly they stated their views. I can imagine them being tolerated and I can imagine them being banned at some places if they spoke frankly.
The basic point you are making — that there is something special about me that does not apply in the case of other people who have investing beliefs in many ways similar to my own — is legitimate. I’ll give you that one.
We all should be trying to figure out what that extra factor that I bring to the table is. Knowing what that extra factor is is important. When we identify that extra factor, we are on our way to resolving not only the problem of the friction at the boards but the problem re what we all need to do to become far more effective investors in the future than we have ever been in the past.
There are numerous people who have acknowledged that I am 100 percent kind and polite and warm in my dealings with all my fellow posters, even those who have threatened to kill my wife and children. So it is obviously not that I am in any way abusive in the way that that word is ordinarily interpreted when people are discussing who should and who should not be permitted to post at discussion boards and blogs. I have never violated a posting rule and I am the last person in the world who ever would do so. But there is something that I am doing that bothers lots of people in a big way. It would be constructive to figure out what that something is.
I believe it is five things.
One, I root everything I say in the academic research. Mot of the kooks you refer to do not do that. Buy-and-Holder sincerely believe that their strategy is rooted in the academic research and that gives them comfort. If some kook comes along and offers a different take, it does not bother the Buy-and-Holders too much because they believe that their strategy is rooted in research and the kook’s strategy is not. I am different. I insist that people look at the research. I never back away from that. I say both that VII IS rooted in research and that Buy-and-Hold is not. I pose more of a threat to Buy-and-Holders than the kooks who are not challenging their positions re what the research says.
Two, I not only advocate something new, I also say that Buy-and-Hold does NOT work. This touches emotional hot buttons. I think this is the difference between me and John Walter Russell. Russell’s usual practice was to present his research and offer little discussion of what it meant. He rarely said the words “Buy-and-Hold doesn’t work.” People felt they could tolerate what he was saying on grounds that everybody is entitled to an opinion. And lots of people believe that valuations matter. So they liked it that he was exploring how valuations matter. The obvious implication of his research was that Buy-and-Hold does not work. But so long as he didn’t say those words, people didn’t feel that they had to respond to him. When I say “Buy-and-Hold doesn’t work,” Buy-and-Holders feel compelled to respond and it annoys the piss out of them that I say that over and over and over again.
Three, I make grand claims about how wonderful Valuation-Informed Indexing is. This is what Scott Burns was getting at when he said that my approach is “catastrophically unproductive” and that my claim that there is a “New School” of SWR analysis is “self-aggrandizing.” He feels that it makes him look stupid that there was this huge potential to offer better investing advice all these years and that he missed it. I am not only saying that there were little mistakes made, I am saying that the mistakes that were made ruined millions of lives. It is hard for people to accept that. It makes them feel that they are bad, that they steered their friends wrong and that they let their families down and that they let their clients down and that they let their readers down. It makes people feel badly about themselves.
Four, I do not seem qualified to make such grand claims. I do think it is possible that Shiller would be tolerated if he said the same things I say because people would say “well, he won a Nobel prize, I have to respect that.” I am some fellow whose only claim to expertise in this field is that I happened to figure out how to get words posted to the internet. People feel that it is an outrage that I make such grand claims. As one fellow put it, it sounds “grandiose.” It rubs people’s fur the wrong way when I say things like “I know more about how stock investing works than Jack Bogle,” who is a well-loved (properly so) figure in this field.
Five, many of the things that I say sound like thinly veiled attacks on the personal integrity of the biggest names in this field. Probably the most extreme case is where I say that Jack Bogle is at risk of going to prison for financial fraud. That claim is so far outside the realm of what most people think is reasonable that they cannot accept or even tolerate hearing me say it. A somewhat less extreme case is when I say that the errors in the Old School SWR studies have been covered up for 12 years. When I say something like that, I am not just offering a different view on investing. I am not saying “Oh, I would use a withdrawal rate of 3 percent rather than 4 percent.” It sounds like I am saying that people of considerable accomplishments lack integrity. That’s a very serious charge. The general reaction is to respond with the thought: “Where the heck does he get off with this stuff?” Those sorts of claims make even supporters of my ideas angry because they see it as a nasty business for me to make such claims.
I think those are the big five factors in why I am perceived differently than others who say that valuations matter or who in some other way take issue with core Buy-and-Hold principles: (1) I focus on the findings of peer-reviewed research rather than just express a personal point of view; (2) I attack Buy-and-Hold as well as advocate Valuation-Informed Indexing; (3) I make expansive claims that strike most people as grandiose and even impossible (Wade said “it all seems so implausible”); (4) I do not possess the credentials that would make people respect even less expansive claims; and (5) I seem to be questioning the personal integrity of a good number of people who have stellar reputations built up over a long period of time.
I have not worked hard on the political side. But I have tried a few things there. The reason I have not worked those fields harder is that I have generally experienced the same reactions there that I have seen on the investing sites. I have hopes that that things will be different at political sites. But I wouldn’t bet a big bunch of money on this turning out to be the case.
I hope that helps a bit, Helper.