Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for another blog entry at this site:
What you posted is true. It is still surprising you posted it when it doesn’t make you look good.
I have a catch phrase that I use from time to time, Anonymous. I sometimes say: “We ban what we fear.” That phrase sums up my beliefs re what messages a community permits to be voiced and what messages a community censors.
On the evening of August 27, 2002, Greaney advanced his first death threat. I viewed this as a positive development. He had been posting abusively since the morning of May 13, 2002. Now he had tipped his hand, now he had crossed the line that middle-of-the-road community members would not be able to tolerate. I was proven wrong re that one, but not entirely so. There really were people who said on that night that “this is no longer a community that I can be a part of, we have sunk too low.” There were people who said that, from that point forward, they would notify the site administrators of each additional abusive post, there were people who said that they would not contribute again until Greaney and his Goons were removed. But those people stuck to those vows only for a few days or a few weeks. Most returned to posting and continued to tolerate the abusive stuff. So I was ultimately proven to be more wrong in my assessment that right.
I still am not going to permit 50 death threats in a row. I fear what the effect would be on people listening in. They would be so appalled at a humanity that had sunk so low that they would recoil from our discussions and hold back from offering constructive and positive and life-affirming contributions. I sometimes permit one or two death threats so that people can see what we are up against. But then I delete them. I have never banned a poster because I believe that even posters who have put up horrible stuff are capable of putting up good stuff (I have seen this happen many times). The rule that applies across the board is — We Ban What We Fear. You Goons do that — you ban anything that mentions the peer-reviewed research of the past 36 years because you see that as a threat. And I ban the death threats and other ugly stuff because I feel that it drives away the best people, the sort of people that I would like to see contributing comments at this blog.
I sometimes challenge myself a little bit. I think that is what was going on with this particular blog entry. I ask myself: “Do I still fear this sort of content or have things changed enough that I can now permit this sort of content to appear at my site?”
Saul Alinsky wrote that book “Rules for Radicals.” I’ve noticed that lots of the tactics employed by you Goons seem to be rooted in the advice offered in his book. I don’t like his tactics one little bit. But I do acknowledge that they are often effective in the short term. He has one tip in which he says that a message that is pushed too hard and for too long eventually becomes its opposite. People hear a message too many times and it stops working. At some point people might laugh at Hillary Clinton when she says that all women should vote for he because she is a woman. Or at some point people might laugh at Donald Trump when he complains about “fake news” because he has gone to that well one too many times.
My reason for making the words that appear in this blog entry a blog entry is that I think we may have reached that point or may be close to reaching that point re the claims asserted in those words. There was a time when I was afraid to have people hear that I was banned at numerous boards because they might think that I had posted abusively. Now I brag about the bannings. I think that people are catching on to the reality that much of what passes for investment advice today is a scam. So the fact that I have been banned by people trying to work the scam makes me look good, not bad, So I no longer fear having people learn that and thus I have no reason to ban such statements from my blog. Similarly, I no longer worry too much about the statements made in this blog entry. So I didn’t ban them in this case. I let them appear as they were stated with no commentary from me.
I am not going to let those sorts of comments appear 20 times in a row. There is still something there to fear. Those sorts of comments are still low and still depress good people and drive good people away and frighten good people. So I am not going to have a blog with comments like that appearing all the time. But I am moving in the direction of permitting those sorts of comments to appear from time to time without my commentary added to them so that people can just evaluate them themselves and decide for themselves what to think about them, as they might decide what ot think of one more comment by Hillary Clinton that all women should vote for her or a comment by Donald Trump that something is “fake news.”
That’s the idea. The 15-year saga has been a story of me (and out entire society, really) gradually overcoming some fears. The appearance of this particular blog entry signifies one small step in a long journey from fear of standing up to the Wall Street Con Men to possessing the confidence to just say what is obviously so, straight and with no chaser. You Goons said the words that comprise this blog entry. So why not let the middle-class investors of the world see your words and decide for themselves how to react to them?
One more quick thing. I don’t think it is a bad idea for me to have a blog entry here that doesn’t make me “look good” in a surface sense. One of the mistakes that I believe that the Wall Street Con Men made was to cover up their mistakes because they worried that people wouldn’t think they possesses enough expertise if they were shown to have made mistakes. I don’t want to fall into that trap. I don’t want to make mistakes. But I inevitably will make them. When I do, I want to own up to them. That might suggest that I do not possess perfect knowledge but so be it, you know? I think it is better for me to look good by showing the humility needed to admit mistakes than it would be for me to look good by creating the phony impression that I am a perfect being that never makes mistakes. I would rather be perceived as fallible but honest than as this puffed-up “expert” who can’t acknowledge his human weaknesses.
So it is very much in tune for my vision of what this site is all about and for what Valuation-Informed Indexing is all about for me to post blog entries that don’t make me look good in a short-term, surface sense. My aim is to look good in a different sense. I think that showing my humanity makes me look good. I value honesty above all else in an investing adviser. And I don’t think that I am the only one who feels that way. I think that that is why you Goons (and your Wall Street Con Men pals) view me as such a threat.
Honesty is like a superpower for me. When I make a mistake, it makes me stronger because I acknowledge it and that makes the sort of people who are drawn to my message in the first place feel that much more confident that they did the right thing by opening their hearts to my message.
I hope that helps a small bit.