Posts filed under “Philosophy”

Things I Don’t Care About

Last year, I noted in the Price of Paying Attention that listening to all of the noise out there hurts your investing returns. If you digest a lot separate sources, if you crave input, if you are entertained by current events, you run the risk of getting distracted by a huge amount of meaningless junk.

My own solution to navigate all of this noise involves 3 steps:

1) Focus on the data (not the commentary);
2) Keep refining your process;
3) Eliminate bad or biased sources with extreme prejudice

These have helped me steer clear of distracting, biased, unhelpful or misleading noise. I learned this weekend that there is an enormous amount of nonsense that simply falls off your radar when you work this way.

Consider this list of things I do not have even the slightest interest in:

• Who the next Treasury Secretary will be
• The Herbalife hedge fund battle
• 90% of Wall Street Research
• People who don’t believe in Evolution
• The Fiscal Cliff
• Dell Going Private
• Why Ben Bernake is going to cause hyper-inflation!
• 75% of what is on CNBC
• Any reality television
• Those QE and Gold cartoons from ExtraNormal
• Lance Armstrong’s doping
• What the European Central Bank will do next
• Nouriel Roubini’s parties
• Birthers, 9/11 Conspiracists, Global Warming Denialists
• Lindsay Lohan’s next movie/arrest/rehab visit

That’s just off the top of my head.

There are millions of things that I have no interest in. The list of items I specifically mentioned are what I believe have a negative value — they are worth less than zero — these are meaningless distractions that take my attention away from more important things.

I am not claiming to have found the holy grail, but I have learned what makes me more productive and efficient.  Note that the vast majority of the things I don’t care about are coincidentally also items I have no control over.

If you want to find more time to focus on what you are supposed to be doing, then you must eliminate the junk. It could be worth about 1000 hours of found time per year to you.



Avoid the Noise (January 2013)

The Price of Paying Attention (November 2012)

Who Do You Trust? (January 2008)

Lose the News (June 2005)

Category: Financial Press, Investing, Philosophy, Psychology

Discuss: Barack Obama is a Liberal Republican

I have been having fun mocking friends and family on both sides of the political aisle.  GOP colleagues who keep telling me BHO is a Socialist, while Dems think he is the next JFK. I enjoy disabusing them of their political biases by explaining to them Barack Obama’s actual politics. Politically, he is a modern…Read More

Category: Current Affairs, Philosophy, Politics

Amazon Changes its Review Policy (but not enough)

Amazon has been one of my favorite retailers, ever since my college roommate gave me an Amazon gift certificate for the holidays in 1998. The reviews are a large part of it. I think it is a crucial aspect to their business model — having trusted 3rd parties giving fair reviews of books and other…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Web/Tech

The Pernicious Staying Power of Really Bad Ideas

> My Sunday Washington Post Business column is out. This morning, we look at the pernicious staying power of bad ideas. The print version had the full headline Zombie ideas: Why don’t bad notions ever die? while the  online version is the simpler: Why don’t bad ideas ever die? Here’s an excerpt from the column: “This…Read More

Category: Investing, Philosophy, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

The London Almanack (Revisited)

I bought a stack of rather old books at an estate sale some years ago. Within the lot I purchased was a tattered, leather-bound, compendium containing six years of “The London Almanack” running consecutively from 1853 through 1858. Thumbing through its worn and mildewed pages I chanced upon general interest articles of the day, court…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Think Tank

Defining Risk Versus Uncertainty

Longtime readers will recall that I find the Uncertainty meme to be mostly silly (see this and this). The foolishness continues to come up amongst allegedly serious people. I find many of these folks (mostly) devoid of original thought, choosing instead to repeat things pundits of questionable insight have previously said (PoQI™ is a registered trademark…Read More

Category: Mathematics, Philosophy, Really, really bad calls

QOTD: Trading versus Debating

I love this comment from Dynamic Hedges: “In cable news, debate means two opposing ideologues get equal time to spout bullshit. In trading, opposing views means someone is actually going to be right and someone is actually going to be wrong. Seek out debate and use it to clarify or disprove your thesis. Find people…Read More

Category: Apprenticed Investor, Philosophy, Rules

Bloomberg: Best Books of 2012

Bloomberg did an interesting thing with their Best Books of 2012 — they surveyed lots of people, and published all of the suggestions. My book suggestions were wedged between Olli Rehn, European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner and Stephen Roach, senior lecturer at Yale University and former chewif economist for Morgan Stanley. I picked: The…Read More

Category: Books, Philosophy

The Dangers of Non-Modeled Narrative Story Tellers

  “He can take a model and turn it into a narrative”   Right after the election, Felix wrote a post “When quants tell stories.” Clever as it was, I had issues with the underlying premise – namely, that the value of Nate Silver’s modeling lay more in the narrative tale as told by Silver…Read More

Category: Investing, Mathematics, Philosophy, Politics, Quantitative, Really, really bad calls

Which One Are You?

via the New Yorker    

Category: Humor, Philosophy, Psychology