Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
To you this is an open-and-shut case. To everyone else, it’s madness. Yes, literally everyone else, including Mrs. Bennett.
Does it ever occur to you that you might (gasp!) be wrong?
In the early days, I thought it was possible that I was wrong. On the morning of May 13, 2002, my confidence level was 90 percent. That’s a high confidence level. But it certainly left open the possibility that I was wrong.
My confidence level shot up to 99 percent on the evening of August 27, 2002, when Greaney advanced his first death threat and 200 of my fellow community members endorsed it.
My confidence level can never get to 100 percent. That’s not possible for a human. We are flawed creatures. We often are blind to our own flaws. I am saying that that is so of lots of very smart and very good people. I had better acknowledge that it is so of me as well.
I could be wrong, Anonymous. I am not saying different. I am insisting that I am sincere. I know that with 100 percent certainty. I believe what I am saying. If every single person in the universe said that I was wrong, it would still be dishonest for me to say something other than what I believed. I can never go there. I have zero problem with the idea of having a note added to the bottom of every post I write saying “this fellow acknowledges that it is possible that he is wrong in every single thing he has ever said about investing.” That would be a healthy step, in my assessment. I feel that that message is there implicitly even today. It;s certainly a true statement. But adding that statement is a far cry from me saying things that I don’t believe. Saying things that I don’t believe crosses the line into financial fraud. Not this boy. That one is so far out of the question that I cannot describe how far out of the question it is.
I believe that the Buy-and-Holders are sincere too. I recorded a podcast a number of years back where I examined the question of whether Scott Burns could pass a lie detector test on whether the Buy-and-Hold retirement studies are accurate. I said that I thought he could. But I added that I do not believe that he could pass a lie detector test if the question was “Are death threats appropriate in discussions of investing?” and he answered “yes.” He knows that your Goon behavior is wrong. Bogle is in that same camp. Bogle knows that your Goon behavior is wrong and he does nothing about it. I believe that Bogle believes that Buy-and-Hold is a good strategy but I do not believe that Bogle believes that Mel Lindauer’s abusive behavior is even a tiny bit appropriate.
My wife doesn’t say that my work is madness. She has told me that she is 100 percent confident that I have achieved big advances in this field. She is afraid of you Goons. She wants me to be able to write on every discussion board and blog on the internet. She has allowed you Goons to intimidate her. She does suggest at times that I had something to do with causing the intimidation tactics. I deny that 100 percent and challenge her to check out the Post Archives to find out for sure but she refuses to do that. I believe that she needs to tell herself that I had something to do with the bad stuff or she would lose her faith in humanity but that she doesn’t want to check the record because she suspects that it would back me up. But she acknowledges that I have made important contributions to the field. There is no question in her mind re that one.
I think that she is pretty darn representative of how other people think about these matters. We have never seen this level of corruption in any field of human endeavor in the United States. The realities here are pretty darn shocking. So people have a hard time letting it in. What distinguishes me is that I say that that reality tells us that we had better figure out what is going on. WHY have we seen a level of abusiveness and corruption never seen before? It’s not because investing is so darn trivial that no one bothers to enforce the law. It is because everyone understands that investing is so darn important that we cannot bear to face up to what we have done to ourselves by going along with this 36-year cover-up. The irony is that, the more lives we destroy, the harder it becomes to do anything to fix the problem.
If I am wrong, then the foundations on which we built our economic system and our political system are wrong. Our systems are rooted in the belief that there must be a marketplace of ideas, that any idea whatsoever can be challenged and that it is up to the individual to decide for himself or herself which idea to follow. You believe in Buy-and-Hold. That’s your business. But you have zero right to deny access to discussions of the last 36 years of peer-reviewed research to the thousands of our fellow community members who expressed a desire to be able to talk this stuff over in peace. You crossed an important line when you endorsed Greaney’s first death threat. I love my country and so I am bound to say that you are wrong when you attack the foundational principles on which my country was built.
I think that I am right on the substantive issues. But I know with absolute certainty that I am right re the process issues. I would give up my life for my country. I would tell my boys to give up their lives for their country if they were put in circumstances in which they were asked to do so. That feeling runs deep. I cannot see that one changing in 15 years or in 15 billion years. That feeling is the core of everything I am. That one can never change. At least not for me.
My best wishes to you.