Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to another blog entry at this site:
We do agree on this, Anonymous.
Most people don’t care about theory. But the EXPERTS care about theory. The experts root their advice in theory. And most people DO care about what the experts say. So in a practical sense most people today are following the Buy-and-Hold theory. They are not dogmatic about it. And they do not know precisely why they are doing what they are doing. They are relying on a belief that the experts are shooting straight with them. They leave it to the experts to worry about theory.
I say that the experts are not shooting straight with them. It’s not that the experts are dishonest by nature. The experts are deceiving THEMSELVES because they have so much riding on the Buy-and-Hold theory; they feel that their entire careers are at stake if Buy-and-Hold is found to be deficient. The experts tell themselves that Buy-and-Hold is good enough and that it is okay not to trouble their clients and readers with discussions of the implications of Shiller’s findings. The ordinary investors don’t even know that there is an issue. They don’t look into things carefully enough to discover this. So, when I put forward views that are very much at odds with what the experts say, the ordinary investors see that what I am saying makes perfect sense but presume that there must be something wrong with what I am saying because if I were right the experts would be saying the same thing.
This is why I am always talking about the importance of Bogle giving an “I Was Wrong” speech. We need a major event that is widely publicized to turn things around. If Bogle gave such a speech and it were written up in all the major papers, all of the experts from that point forward would feel comfortable giving the Shiller take on things along with the Fama take on things. As more and more people came to understand the Shiller take, hundreds of blogs would pick up on these questions and we would see the launching of a national debate. We need to see a national debate re this stuff very, very badly!
I feel that you are suggesting a non-dogmatic approach to things. I can live with a non-dogmatic approach. But I am not clear re how what you are suggesting would play out when it comes time for me to compose posts.
Say that I am posting at the Bogleheads Forum. Someone comes on and says “I am about to retire and need to decide how much I am going to withdrawal each year.” Someone else posts a link to FIRECalc. What do it do?
Do I post a link to The Retirement Risk Evaluator?
How does Mel Lindauer respond when I do that?
Am I subjected to The Treatment?
Or does he let it pass out of deference to this new non-dogmatic approach?
I don’t feel any need to say “Buy-and-Hold is wrong” so long as there are no Buy-and-Holders saying “Valuation-Informed Indexing is wrong.”
If you are saying that we ALL should be non-dogmatic, I am cool with the idea. But Valuation-Informed Indexing cannot grow if, every time a VII idea is put forward, it is smashed down by people who claim that Buy-and-Hold is Scientific Truth. I need protection from that sort of thing. The protection that I have relied on in the past is the 33 years of peer-reviewed research supporting the VII strategy (and discrediting the earlier research that was thought by many to support the BH strategy). If we go the route you propose, do you intend to jump in when Buy-and-Holders say that their approach is Science and let them know that the majority of the board is non-dogmatic and that it is disrespectful to them to say that kind of thing? If not, how do you propose that I respond, given that I believe in Valuation-Informed Indexing and want to persuade people of its merits while also wanting to always be 100 percent respectful of the views of other community members?