Posts filed under “Philosophy”

How’s Your MetaCognition?

 

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

-Aristotle

 

Over the past few weeks, I have been waxing eloquent on the subject of self-awareness, knowledge, and recognizing one’s own lackings thereto. Last week, we discussed the Value of Not Knowing; that followed the prior week’s discussion of why I don’t bother guessing a monthly NFP number.

Today, I want to discuss Self-Enlightenment — why understanding yourself is so important to investors. This isn’t a Zen discussion of achieving a higher sense of oneness with the universe; rather, it is an explanation as to why knowing what it is you actually know, understanding what you don’t know, and having a high level of recognition of the danger when you think you know (but really don’t) is so crucial.

Those of you have seen our “Brain on Stocks” presentations know that MetaCognition is an important part of understanding. You also know that a significant part of expertise is the intense understanding of one’s own skills and limitations. The other side of Dunning Kruger effect — which we have discussed repeatedly — is that the amateur and the unskilled participant are stunningly unaware of their own inferior knowledge and skill set. They do not know what they do not know — often, fatally so.

So perhaps the best question we can ask of an investment manager (or an investor can ask themselves) is not “How Smart Are You?” Rather, it is “How’s your MetaCognition?” How self-enlightened are you? How well do you understand what you don’t know?”

From Socrates to Plato to Aristotle, metacognition was an important part of Greek philosophy. Socrates perhaps most famously declared “I only know that I know nothing;” He was perhaps the first human to wax eloquent on metacognition. It may be counter-intuitive, but understanding one’s own ignorance is the first step to attaining knowledge.

Perhaps Shakespeare put it best in As You Like It: “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man, knows himself to be a fool.”

How’s your metacognition?

 

Category: Philosophy, Psychology

Is McKinsey to Blame for Skyrocketing CEO Pay?

In 2011, I posed the question “Is McKinsey & Co. the Root of All Evil ?” This was not a tongue-in-cheek query, but rather, a look at how so many recent disasters traced their origins back to McKinsey & Co. Which brings us to the latest issue negatively affecting the United States, skyrocketing CEO pay…Read More

Category: Crony Capitalists, Philosophy, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

On the Value of Not Knowing

Its Philosophy Phriday, and as such, I want to discuss my ignorance. Or rather, my justifiable pride in my willingness to say “I don’t know.” I use this phrase frequently, for there are a wealth of subjects I know very, very little about. Sometimes I am asked things I could not possibly know, particularly about…Read More

Category: Investing, Philosophy, Psychology

The Best (Non-Financial) Financial Books

From time to time people ask me to give them recommendations on good finance books. When I respond, I either get blank stares or laughs… What’s so funny about the Tao Te Ching, Thoreau’s Walden, or Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling On Happiness? Were they expecting something like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, Kiyosaki’s Poor Dad / Rich…Read More

Category: Books, Philosophy

“What’s Your NFP Number?” [Don't have one]

This morning, the single most asked question I hear is “So what’s Your NFP Number?” That’s one of the more interesting side issues about this Maine event/fishing trip/conference. Its overrun with economists and Fed folk, who are the fairly focused on short term data. Regular readers number I have little interest in making bad predictions…Read More

Category: Data Analysis, Employment, Philosophy

Third Dynasty, 2005 B.C. (before crisis)

Tom Keene says some astonishingly nice things about your humble blogger. Its based in part on our prior discussion of “our god-given right to be wrong in picking stocks,” and what that means for investor psychology as well as portfolio decisions:   click for full article   Much more of this and I will become…Read More

Category: Media, Philosophy

Independent Thought: Earning Your Free Will

Ahhh, sleeping in my own bed — such a delight. After a trip to Denver for an FA Mag conference and then onto to Vancouver for the Agora event, I am back home again. It is just for a week, and then I head off to my annual Maine fishing event. Travel is good for…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Psychology, Travel

90% of Everything is Crap

Source: Mental Floss     As someone who has spent his fair share of time debunking nonsense, I love the elegant way Theodore Sturgeon trashed this anti-SciFi trope in the March 1958 issue of Venture: “I repeat Sturgeon’s Revelation, which was wrung out of me after twenty years of wearying defense of science fiction against…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Quantitative, Rules

The Narrative Fails

Its Friday (and a hot summer Friday at that), and as such, I like to wax philosophical about what I see around me as some of the broader issues today. Cullen Roche of Pragmatic Capital sets the scene for us: “The economy continues to do okay, the stock market is hitting all-time highs every day,…Read More

Category: Cognitive Foibles, Investing, Philosophy, Psychology

Nikola Tesla: Passing Through

Happy Birthday Nikola Tesla!   “Like a wave in the physical world, in the infinite ocean of the medium which pervades all, so in the world of organisms, in life, an impulse started proceeds onward, at times, may be, with the speed of light, at times, again, so slowly that for ages and ages it…Read More

Category: Philosophy, Weekend