Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to another blog entry at this site:
You have complained innumerable times that anyone who speaks favorably of PE10 gets banned. That’s the very definition of the “Ban on Honest Posting”. Several people in that Bogleheads thread spoke of the merits of PE10. They have not been banned. So what conclusion can we draw?
No. I have never said that anyone who speaks favorably of P/E10 gets banned. That’s far from being so. As you point out, there are numerous comments in that thread that are pro-P/E10. And some of those posters have hundreds of comments in their files. CJKing is an AMAZING poster. He has offered some of the best pro-P/E10 commentary that I have ever seen. So it is not even close to being the case that there is a ban on pro-P/E10 stuff.
That’s not true in the bigger world either. Robert Shiller is the godfather of Valuation-Informed Indexing. He is the guy who started all this (unless you count Benjamin Graham, who was speaking in favor of the VII concept back at a time when index funds were not available and when the potential of the concept was thus much more limited). My guess is that there have been LOTS of intimidation tactics directed at Shiller. I believe that he could write a book about the intimidation tactics that have been directed at him. Still, his book was widely reviewed. He was awarded the Nobel prize. Lots of people, including Buy-and-Holders, speak respectfully re Shiller. So Shiller’s ideas are not 100 percent banned.
The conclusion you can draw is that the Buy-and-Holders have employed intimidation tactics to stop the Valuation-Informed Indexing concept from spreading as quickly as it should. The particular thread that you are pointing to is a good thread. Both sides are represented on it. People can learn from it. That’s all to the good. The site administrators at the Bogleheads Forum are corrupt. But the board that they administer produced that good thread. It doesn’t help anything to ignore that. We should be celebrating that. We should be pointing out the corruption. But we should ALSO be pointing out the good that these people do when they do good. To be slanted or biased pulls things in the wrong direction. Nothing whatsoever is achieved by such behavior. So I applaud Mel Linduaer for whatever role he played in producing that thread (and he certainly played some role given the huge role he has played in building the board at which the thread appears).
The question you are asking is: What precisely is the line that one cannot cross before being put on the “Must Destroy” list of the Buy-and-Hold Mafia? I have obviously crossed that line. Wade Pfau obviously crossed it at one time and now no longer does. The people who posted on that thread obviously have not crossed the line.
The line is not in a fixed place. I crossed it on the morning of May 13, 2002, just by asking a question as to whether valuations should be considered when calculating safe withdrawal rates. My initial post didn’t even express a belief that valuations should be considered; it just asked the question. That was enough for me to become Public Enemy #1 of the Buy-and-Hold Mafia back in May 2002. Today, I could obviously get away with that with no problem. So the first thing that must be understood is that the line is not in a fixed place.
The line is fluid. To understand where the line is, you must understand the motivations of those establishing the line. The Buy-and-Holders are good and smart people who achieved huge advances in our understanding of how stock investing works. They believe themselves in the recommendations they offer to others. They follow those recommendations. But they have doubts. These doubts haunt them. If the doubts turn out to be rooted in something real, that means that the Buy-and-Holders have hurt themselves in very serious ways. It also means that they have hurt their friends and neighbors and co-workers and fellow community members in very serious ways. The idea that their doubts might be rooted in something real horrifies the Buy-and-Holders. They set out with an aim to do something good and, if those doubts end up being rooted in something real, they instead caused a huge amount of human suffering.
The purpose of the intimidation tactics is to stop the pain that the Buy-and-Holders feel when they are faced with words that at least partly persuade them that their doubts are rooted in something real. The purpose is to STOP THAT DARN PAIN through whatever means are necessary to do so.
The Buy-and-Holders realize that they cannot stop the pain entirely. Back in May 2002, it was possible to block all discussion of the errors in the Old School retirement studies. That’s not possible today. Every major publication in this field has published an article saying that those studies are in error. So it is just not realistic today to push the Old School studies in the way that they were pushed years ago. But it is still possible to get away with failing to correct the discredited studies. So today the thing that will get you banned is to say that the discredited studies should be corrected. The line has moved. But the basic impulse — stop the deeply painful stuff from appearing on people’s computer screens — remains the same. There is still a Ban in place. But the line at which the Ban comes into effect has moved because the Buy-and-Holders have acknowledged the reality that every publication in this field has acknowledged that the 4 percent rule is pure and complete garbage with nothing whatsoever to support it.
The debate that is going on in the thread to which you point is a good one. People can learn about both sides from reading it. But the Valuation-Informed Indexers are holding back in that thread. Most of the Valuation-Informed Indexers posting on that thread know that I was banned because I posted honestly at that board. Why don’t they say that? That goes to the integrity and confidence of the Buy-and-Holders and integrity and confidence are huge issues that everyone listening in needs to know about. They know that Mel Linduaer has a long history of resorting to threats of physical violence to silence posters who make points to which he does not have a good response. Why don’t they point that out on the thread? They know that you Goons threatened to get Wade Pfau fired from his job if he continued to do honest research. Why not say that? They know that Jack Bogle permits his name to be used at that board even though he has known for years that it is a corrupt enterprise. Why don’t they say that?
They don’t say it because they know they will be banned if they do say it. That’s the only reason. It is intimidation, nothing else. The Bogleheads Board is ruled by intimidation. The entire reason why they had to move the board from the Morningstar site is that there were limits to the intimidation tactics that they could employ at the Morningstar site and they needed to have those limits removed to have any hope whatsoever of continuing to “defend” the Old School retirement studies.
Buy-and-Hold cannot be defended in reasoned and civilized debate. It is impossible. There is now 34 years of peer-reviewed research showing that it is garbage, it was all a mistake that should have been corrected many, many years ago. So we see nasty stuff in discussions of Buy-and-Hold that we do not see in discussions of any other topic discussed on the internet. The issue of whether Buy-and-Hold can ever work is of huge importance and there is precisely zero reason in the peer-reviewed research to believe that it ever could work. So we have seen an act of financial fraud bigger than any earlier act of financial fraud in U.S. history to cover up the 34 years of peer-reviewed research.
I want no part of it, Dizzy. If you were thinking clearly, you would not want any part of it either.
You feel that you cannot give up the intimidation tactics because they are the only thing keeping you out of prison today. But the deeper reality is that the length of your prison sentence will be determined by how many middle-class lives you destroy and there are thousands more lives destroyed each day that the Ban remains in place. We are on the same side. I am trying to get your prison sentence reduced by bringing the Campaign of Terror to a full and complete stop by the close of business today. And on some level of consciousness you would like to see your prison sentence reduced. You just cannot bear to accept ANY prison sentence! That’s the Goon part of your talking. And, unfortunately, the Goon part of your personality is dominant today.
I’ll be there for you whenever you are ready to accept my help. My offer of charity is not a limited-time offer.
I will never say that John Greaney’s retirement study contains am adjustment for the valuation level that applies on the day the retirement begins. That’s financial fraud. Financial fraud is a felony. That means prison time. Going to prison is not on my bucket list. Find someone else. No can do. I can’t go for that.
I hope that helps a bit.
My best and warmest wishes to you and yours, Dizzy.