I had lunch at FinCon 2014 (the a conference for financial bloggers) with two bloggers, Crystal (owner of the Budgeting in the Fun Stuff blog and Jackie (owner of the The Debt Myth blog). We discussed the problem of the Goons invading blogs at which I posted guest blog entries in an effort to get the word out about Valuation-Informed Indexing. We agreed that I would write guest blog entries for each of their sites and that one would go up under my name and the other under an assumed name and then we would discuss the matter to determine how to handle any problems caused by Goon posters. Set forth below is the text of an e-mail sent by Crystal to Jackie and me, followed by my response:
Hi you two,
I received one comment on the post over at my site, and I know the commenter (definitely not a troll). How about you, Jackie?
The comment was a good one.
Here is what Evan said:
“Most people would agree that buying low and selling high is the way to go -it’s telling when high and low are actually happening that is the trick. It’s hard to capture all the highs if you’re too busy trying to market time out the lows. You’re advice is sound but if it was easy to implement stock investing would be a piece of cake.”
He’s not saying that this is a bad thing. He is saying that it is a WONDERFUL thing. The only thing that is holding him back from following a Valuation-Informed Indexing strategy himself is that he finds it too good to be true (he says that, if this was easy to implement, stock investing would be a piece of cask and the peer-reviewed research that I co-authored with Wade Pfau shows that this is VERY easy to implement).
How do we get enough people talking about this so that people like Evan come aboard?
I’ve been getting these sorts of reactions going back to the first day (May 13, 2002). About 20 percent of the people exposed to the new ideas respond as Evan did — with interest, but not sufficiently convinced by one exposure to change how they invest their retirement money. How do we change things so that people like Evan can get all of their questions answered and come aboard? One exposure doesn’t do the
job. We need people talking about the last 33 years of peer-reviewed research at every investing board and blog on the internet. And it’s when the owner of a board or blog shows enough interest in the ideas to give them continuing exposure that the 20 percent of the population comprised of diehard Buy-and-Holders gets involved with their abusive stuff and ruins it for the 20 percent like Evan and the 60 percent in the middle.
I want to get these ideas out to EVERYONE. I obviously don’t have any problem with those who CHOOSE to go with Buy-and-Hold after being exposed to the new ideas (relatively new but supported now by 33 years of research). I want everyone to be informed about both sides and therefore able to make an INFORMED choice one way or the other.
I want to RESPOND to people like Evan, to show him why implementation is as easy as easy can be. No, he’s not a troll. But, though no fault of his own, he has never heard the other side of the story, he has never heard how easy this is to implement. I want to tell him. I see that as the entire point of our blogs. When new ideas come along that reduce the risk of stock investing by 70 percent while greatly increasing
long-term returns, I want to help people learn about those ideas.
That’s where I am coming from, in any event. My purpose in contacting you was to see if you could help me in my efforts to persuade more bloggers to help spread the word. I of course understand if you elect not to get involved. But that was my aim.
I have never said that the only problem is the Goons. It is not. There would be no problem if it were not for the Goons. I would have been able to spread the word myself 12 years ago if it had not been for the Goons. But I could OVERCOME the Goons if only people like Evan were aware of the research showing how easy it is to implement this and take away most of the risk of stock investing. It is the COMBINATION of the lack of understanding of how the new ideas work AND the role that the Goons play in keeping knowledge from spreading that has created the problem.
I am going to continue to try to help people by trying to overcome the Goons and get the ideas out to people like Evan. If you run into other bloggers who have an interest in joining in the effort, I hope you will let me know. I am always happy to answer any questions whatsoever or to address any concerns whatsoever. The advances are 100 percent good. There will come a day when everyone will recognize that, including the Buy-and-Holders and including the Goons. So I don’t feel that I am doing anyone even the tiniest bit of harm by trying to get the investing ideas that won Shiller a Nobel prize out to more people (even though some obviously FEEL that I am hurting them by showing that they made a mistake a good number of years ago and that that mistake needs to be fixed if we are all to move forward together).
I am grateful to you both for the efforts you put into this. Perhaps one of your readers will contact me and end up helping in a big way. It may not happen. But that sort of thing has happened before and none of us can know when it is going to happen again. We just need to keep trying and thereby to keep creating opportunities for good things to happen.
Please take good care and I wish you both the best of luck in all your future life endeavors. It will be fun to meet up with you at FinCon15 and trade notes re the developments that take place over the next year. I HOPE I will have achieved my big breakthrough by then. Of course I held similar hopes last October!