Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently put to another blog entry at this site:
Yes, this is the crux of the issue. Since you have emotionally and (weirdly) escalated a 12+ year campaign into a high stakes game of 500MM paychecks you have painted yourself into a corner. At this point admitting that you have no idea what you are doing makes you look so completely ridiculous that it is ‘better’ mentally/emotionally for you to continue persisting beyond all reason/logic/evidence.
I openly acknowledge that I could be wrong, Laugh. I don’t think that I am wrong. If I thought that I was wrong, I wouldn’t say what I say. But there have been times when I thought that I was right and it turned out that I was wrong. I acknowledge that there is a possibility that that is the case here.
There was an instance of this just the other night. I was playing Dominion with my boy Timothy and an obscure rule question re a particular card came up. We didn’t want to stop the game to look up the rule. I insisted that I knew the rule and he reluctantly backed down. After the game was over (he won — so the rule issue didn’t matter), we looked up the rule. He had been right. All I could say was: “You were right and I was wrong.” These things happen.
There is no ultimate test re the investing matter as to who is right and who is wrong. Even if there is a 65 percent crash next month, there are going to be people who continue to say that Buy-and-Hold is right. We can’t sit Mr. Market down in a room and demand the truth from him.
We all form different opinions because we possess different perspectives and different personality types and live through different life experiences. And that’s pretty much that. We WILL see changes in the popularity of different opinions over time; a crash will certainly swing things in my direction. But there is no absolutely final determination here. There is no rule book to consult. People have different opinions and there is no changing it.
There’s plenty of support for my opinion. There is 34 years of peer-reviewed research supporting it. Shiller has won a Nobel Prize. And on and on and on and on. So there is nothing even a tiny bit crazy about what I say. And the issues are of extreme importance. If I am right, then the Buy-and-Holders caused an economic crisis. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.
But in no way, shape or form have I ever been even a tiny bit stubborn about even a single issue. I have praised the Buy-and-Holdes to the skies (with 100 percent sincerity). I have acknowledged that I could be wrong. I have extended the hand of friendship hundreds of thousands of times. I have done everything that a person possibly could do to interact with my Buy-and-Hold friends in a warm and friendly manner.
With one exception.
I have been 100 percent firm and unyielding on the question of whether I will post dishonestly. I won’t say things about investing that I do not believe.
That’s a matter re which every one of us should be 100 percent firm and unyielding. NO ONE should ever agree to post dishonestly re these matters.
Would you agree to that, Laugh? I have never asked you to do that and no one else has ever asked you to do that. But would you do it if you were asked? If the tables were turned and if Valuation-Informed Indexing were today the dominant strategy, would you agree to post dishonestly just to gain access to a discussion-board community?
I hope that the answer is “no.” I would think less of you if the answer were “yes.”
The board interactions suggest that about 10 percent of the population believes in Valuation-Informed Indexing today and 90 percent believes in Buy-and-Hold. As a Valuation-Informed Indexer, I obviously would like to see that percentage grow. How is that ever going to happen if the Valuation-Informed Indexers all live in fear of what the Buy-and-Holders will do to them if they dare to commit the terrible crime of posting their honest views?
All ideas smart with a small number of advocates. The number grows over time as people become convinced of the merit of the new idea. There is something called “The Marketplace of Ideas.” The competing investing strategies do battle in The Marketplace of Ideas. I want my ideas to win. I start out outnumbered by a factor of 10 to 1. If there is going to be any hope whatsoever of my ideas winning, I need to fight hard. That’s my job. I take pride in my work. If Valuation-Informed Indexing is going to prevail in this world, I need to advance every argument I put forward as forcefully as I am able to advance it. So does every other advocate of the new model.
I need to fight fair. There are lines. If I cross those lines, I bring discredit on the idea. You Goons cross those lines on a daily basis. I am appalled by that. But there’s not a whole big bunch that I can do about it, is there? I could go to bed and cry big tears into my pillow. Do you think that might help, Laugh? I don’t think so either. So I don’t even bother. I play it this other way instead.
I love my Buy-and-Hold friends. I will do anything in my power to help my Buy-and-Hold friends short of committing a felony under the laws of the United States. That’s not a limited-time offer. That offer remains on the table forever and no matter what. But that’s as far as I can go. If I cross The Felony Line, I’ve got a lot bigger problems that those I have now. So that’s out. You call that “to continue persisting beyond all reason/logic/evidence.” So be it. Going to prison is not high on my bucket list. I ain’t going there. Not in 13 years. Not in 13 million years.
Everything else is on the table. Everything short of committing a felony I will agree to with a smile on my face and with a kind word back in reply.
You Goons got caught up in something much bigger than what you imagined was at stake on the morning of May 13, 2002. So did I. Neither of us intended to end up in this place. But here we are. That’s the reality.
I have zero ill will in my heart towards any Buy-and-Holder. I LOVE the great good that the Buy-and-Holders have done. I have said that thousands of times. If I need to say it thousands of times more, I will do so. It’s important that I say that. It’s important that you hear the words and take them in and accept that they are true words.
The Buy-and-Holders are capable of making mistakes. Again, you need to let those words in. It’s okay for you to continue to believe in Buy-and-Hold and it’s okay for you to believe that the possibility that the Buy-and-Holders made a mistake is small. But you must accept that there is at least a small chance that the Buy-and-Holders made a mistake.
And you must accept that our system of government provides a means by which such mistakes come to be revealed over time. Mistakes are revealed through honest discussions. There is no other way that it can happen. I need to persuade lots of people of the merit of Valuation-Informed Indexing to get all the textbooks rewritten in the manner in which I believe they must be rewritten if our economic system is going to survive (and thrive). The only way to do that is through honest discussion. There is no other way. So we must have that.
One of you Goons said the other day that you believed it would have been “impossible” to have permitted the Valuation-Informed Indexers to post their honest views. If that’s so, then there’s something wrong with Buy-and-Hold. If the evidence for Buy-and-Hold is so strong that discussion of alternatives must be banned, there should be a mountain of evidence so high that it would not be possible for someone like me to persuade a single person of the merit of an alternative. If that were so, there would be no need to ban me at a single board or blog. Your assessment that it would be “impossible” to permit a debate shows us that the case for Buy-and-Hold is too weak for us to go along with a ban on the discussion of alternatives.
I am not being stubborn here. I am insisting on the recognition of a basic human right — the right to express oneself honestly re an important matter. It is you Buy-and-Holders who are being stubborn. You are being stubborn because you are afraid that your investing beliefs are not as secure as you once thought them to be.
You can go two ways re that reality. You can dig in your heels and cause more destruction. Or you can accept that there is an amazing potential here to change the world for the good and play the role that you need to play to see either that that potential is achieved or that Valuation-Informed Indexing is shown once and for all to be the inferior strategy.
If Bogle can answer my questions, Valuation-Informed Indexing fails in The Marketplace of Ideas. If Bogle cannot answer my questions, Buy-and-Hold fails in The Marketplace of Ideas. If you care about knowing the realities of stock investing, you want to see whether my claims can stand up to Bogle’s challenges and whether Bogle’s claims can stand up to Bennett’s challenges.
I am not in a corner, Laugh.
Or, if I am, it is our entire nation that is in a corner.
We have ways of settling the sorts of differences of opinion that have revealed themselves here.
I believe that we will as a nation eventually turn to our normal procedures for dealing with such matters. I believe that the new ideas will prevail at that time.
If we never turn to normal procedures, I believe that we will all go down together. That makes me sad as sad can be. But if that is what happens, it’s our entire nation that is in a corner, not just me. If that’s the reality, I have the small consolation of knowing that I did everything that a human being could do to pull things in the other direction. If it cannot be done, it cannot be done. I have to accept it. There are limits to what one person can do.
I love my country. I will fight for her.
I believe that I will win in the end. I accept that there is at least some possibility that we all will lose.
I sincerely wish you all the best things that this life has to offer a person.