Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for one of my columns at the Value Walk site:
Here is the difference between you and everyone else. The investment community reads the words Shiller says and believe that those are his opinions. You read what he says and then interpret it to fit your agenda.
My agenda is to open every investing site on the internet to honest posting re the last 36 years of peer-reviewed research in this field, Sammy. The Buy-and-Holders are good people and smart people. They came up with an investing strategy that they believe in and millions are grateful for their efforts. We have all learned many important things by listening to our Buy-and-Hold friends. All that is good.
Things turn sour when some Buy-and-Holders (not all, some) engage in abusive posting practices to block those of us who do not believe in Buy-and-Hold but instead believe in the 36 years of peer-reviewed research showing that valuations affect long-term returns from sharing on the internet our honest thoughts on how stock investing works. I have thoughts and I want to share them. I have had thousands of my fe llow community members express a desire to hear them. My views have been endorsed by some of the biggest names in the field. What’s the problem here?
We don’t agree. That’s the problem from your end. If I am permitted to post my honest views, some people who now agree with you are going to lose confidence in Buy-and-Hold. I get that and I agree. But you know what? It could be that Buy-and-Hold will prevail if we permit people on both sides to post honestly. That will make Buy-and-Hold all the more popular down the road. And, in the event that Buy-and-Hold really is as dangerous as I think it is, it is of course to your benefit to find that out. And the only way that you are ever going to find it out is to permit me and the thousands of others who have grave doubts about the Buy-and-Hold strategy to express their honest views.
Shiller’s ideas cannot be reconciled with Bogle’s ideas. Bogle believes that the market is efficient. Shiller believes that valuations affect long-term returns. These are completely different premises on which to build investing strategies. Some (the majority) believe that Bogle is right. Some (the minority) believe that Shiller is right. That’s not a bad thing. I think it is kind of a cool thing. Because we disagree, we both have someone on the other side to challenge our thinking and keep us honest. It’s a good thing that we don’t all agree.
So that’s my agenda. I want us all working together. I say that the goal is to learn the truth about stock investing and that the means by which we get there is to show respect and tolerance for those with other views. I don’t agree with you on many investing issues. But I sure respect you. I sure like you. I sure enjoy learning from you. I think it would be just groovy if you could say the same back to me.
It’s to be expected that we are going to have somewhat different takes re what Shiller says. And re what Bogle says. And re thousands of other things. We have different perspectives. When some new information bit appears before us, we both send it through out respective filters, which are designed to protect our differing perspectives from feeling the pain that comes when they are challenged in too serious a way. So we hear the same words and I have one take on what those words signify and you have a somewhat different take. What of it? That’s how things work when two people have different viewpoints. There’s nothing bad about that. That’s normal. That’s healthy.
I have learned things from you, Sammy. You show up here every week and you harass me. You have been harassing me at one place or another for 15 years running now. I would be grateful if you would just kindly knock off the funny business. But, if I were put to the challenge, I could write a long post detailing all the things I have learned from my interactions with you. That’s the good side of all this. That’s the side that I would like to focus on. I think it is very cool that I have learned things from you despite all the complications. And I have a funny hunch that if you were being perfectly honest you would acknowledge that there have been one or two occasions over the 15 years in which you have learned something from me too. That warms my heart, you know? It makes me happy that I have helped my friend Sammy out on one or two occasions.
I do indeed interpret what Shiller and everyone else says to fit my agenda. That’s normal. That’s healthy. That’s good. I cannot help you or anyone else if I do not process information in the way that I was built to process information. So that’s what I do. You can take or leave any of the products of my agenda. That part is up to you. But please don’t ask me to stop producing material that follows from a belief in my agenda. I cannot produce anything that helps you or others unless I post what I sincerely believe. So I do that and I intend to continue doing that.
I do it all out of friendship for you, Sammy. Believe it or not, that’s the bottom-line reality here.