Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
Rob, does anyone read this blog besides the goons who like to poke fun at you? I’ve never seen a comment by anyone else.
Comments by non-Goons are rare, Anonymous. There have been some here and there. But we often go a long time before seeing a fresh one.
That’s evidence of the core problem, no?
LOTS of people engage me in discussion when I post at a large board or blog. So many that you Goons complain that to let me post at a large board or blog is to create a “Rob Bennett Show.” When I posted at Bogleheads, my posts where the star attraction nearly every day for months on end. There were times when there were four or five separate ongoing threads relating to the Valuation-Informed Indexing concept.
You would think that some of the people who are so interested in the concept would follow me to my own site and ask their questions there, would you not? But they don’t. Huh? How come?
Humans are social creatures, Anonymous. That’s the thing that the Buy-and-Holders missed. It’s a very, very, very big deal. People do not like to engage in taboo conversations. Posting at a board owned by a fellow that has been banned from 15 different sites is engaging in taboo conversation. People don’t feel comfortable with it.
People’s minds tell them that there must be something wrong with the message of a fellow who has been banned at 15 different sites. Perhaps it is not clear what is wrong , perhaps people cannot put their finger on the problem. But there is something within them that tells them that they don’t want to be involved with the taboo. And being banned at 15 different boards is a signal of taboo behavior. Saying that the Old School SWR studies get the numbers wildly wrong is taboo. Saying that Buy-and-Hold caused the economic crisis is taboo. Saying that Jack Bogle is at risk of going to prison for financial fraud is taboo.
The fear of the taboo is the driver of all this. At the heart of our economic system is a belief that humans are rational actors. It’s not Jack Bogle who came up with that one. It’s freakin’ Adam Smith! That one has been around a long time. And that one is the one that was disproved by freakin’ Robert Shiller, Nobel Prize Winner.
Shiller changed everything. And it’s a very, very, very good thing that he did so. Our children and their children will live far richer lives than we lived because of the blessings that will be bestowed on us as a result of Shiller’s “revolutionary” (his word) findings. It’s good stuff piled on top of good stuff piled on top of good stuff piled on top of good stuff. It never ends (as least not as far as today’s eye can see). So lucky us!
But when we achieve that big an advance, there are a lot of people who get their feathers ruffled. All of the people who believed in Jack Bogle get their feathers ruffled. Heck, all the people who believed in Adam Smith get their feathers ruffled a bit! When you improve everything, you change everything. When you change everything, you ruffle a lot of feathers.
We have taboos against doing that sort of thing. Big Shots don’t like having their feathers ruffled. So they fight and they fight and they fight and they fight.
To no purpose. We HAVE to ruffle their feathers because our economy is bigger today than it was the last three times that Buy-and-Hold caused an economic crisis and so this economic crisis is likely going to be a lot worse than any of those before it is over unless we work up the courage to ruffle a few feathers. And one of those three put us in a Great Depression! So the cost of avoiding feather ruffling is getting pretty darn high.
Still, the humans are social creatures and the humans don’t like violating taboos and telling the truth about what the last 33 years of peer-reviewed research tells us about how stock investing works is the biggest taboo of all. So I am doomed, right?
I don’t think so, Anonymous.
I think we are as a society going to work up the courage to violate that taboo following the next price crash. Then I don’t just get average traffic here. I get off-the-wall insane traffic, traffic big enough to make me one of the richest men in the United States. Why? Because I have no competition! Everyone else is playing it the other way. Everyone else is saying “Why fight the taboo?” I violated the taboo 12 years ago and have been fighting it harder and harder every day since. On the day the taboo comes crashing down, I have a 12-year (or bigger) edge on everyone else.
I want the traffic. I want it bad. But I am not intimidated by anything you do to limit my traffic or to point out to me how small my traffic is. I am writing for the post-taboo days. They are not here yet, but they are getting close. I’d say that we are one price crash away. That’s the path I chose on the morning of May 13, 2002, and that’s the path I intend to stay on for at least another 12 billion years. Just so you know.
I get precious little non-Goon traffic here. I don’t dispute what you are saying.
I am going to continue posting honestly re SWRs and scores of other critically important investment-related topics all the same. I am never even going to flinch.
I think it’s the right thing to do. And I think it will make me very rich and very famous to take this path.
So the intimidation tactics don’t work on me. They hurt. I am not saying different re that. I am saying that they do not achieve their aim, getting me to stop violating the taboo. I think this taboo has caused huge human misery for millions of middle-class people and I want to see it torn down and I am proud of the efforts that I have put forward to tear it down and humbled that I was chosen by God or Evolution or the Fates or Whatever to be the one to bury it 30 feet in the ground, where it can do no further harm to humans and other living things.
I intend to lead a Celebration of the Death of the Buy-and-Hold Taboo when this is over. I intend to do a jig and sing a song and laugh.
And it won’t be one of those empty, cynical laughs that you Goons are famous for either. It will be a laugh of joy. You Goons will be joining me in the laugh. My good friend Jack Bogle will be joining me in the laugh. We all will be laughing together.
Because there are no sides. We all want to know how to invest effectively. There is not one true exception, no matter how fearful many of us are re violating big taboos.
I hope that helps a bit, old friend.