Posts filed under “Psychology”
I am a fan of Morgan Housel, columnist at the Motley Fool. His writings evince a strong understanding of behavioral issues, and he has a gift of sifting through the nonsense to get to what really matters. Only on rare occasions do I get to disagree with him.
Today is one of those times.
Most of the column is solid, with five interesting bullet points. But one of Kahneman’s points leapt out at me as having a small math error: The most important things in life are unpredictable:
The idea that large historical events are determined by luck is profoundly shocking, although it is demonstrably true. It is hard to think of the history of the twentieth century, including its large social movements, without bringing in the role of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong.
But there was a moment in time, just before an egg was fertilized, when there was a fifty-fifty chance that the embryo that became Hitler could have been a female. Compounding the three events, there was a probability of one-eighth of a twentieth century without any of the three great villains and it is impossible to argue that history would have been roughly the same in their absence. The fertilization of these three eggs had momentous consequences, and it makes a joke of the idea that long-term developments are predictable.
I have no problem with the random aspect of history — yes, many important things in life are unpredictable. The problem with this analysis is that it is mathematically one-sided. As is so often the case, the counterfactual provides insight.
Fascinating comparison of popular acceptance of non-traditional (in some jurisdictions, they were called “Deviant”) marraiges. Note how the slopes of the lines showing legality and popular acceptance have shifted. Not just change, but the rate of change has accelerated. This suggests to me a more progressive attitude on Social Issues. Add Marijuana legalization to the…Read More
One of the things I like to do in all of my musings is to find some thing or person who is wrong about an investing-related subject, then trying to figure out where they went awry. On occasion, small pearls of wisdom can be derived from this analytical process, as in this discussion on narrative….Read More
One of my favorite Sci-Fi books from my teen years was Alfred Bester’s 1953 novel, The Demolished Man. (It was the first Hugo Award winner). In Bester’s vision of the Future, telepathy is common, and the main character uses earworms — Pop tunes specifically developed to be an addictive, catchy, irritating nuisance to block out…Read More
I stumbled on this gem earlier today: “Earlier this year, the Dow had dropped over 5,000 points in 6 months. One of the collective fallacies our culture operates under is the delusion that the market is some kind of astute forecasting machine. It is not — it represents the collective wisdom of 10 million panicked…Read More
> My Sunday Washington Post Business Section column is out. On the anniversary on my 30,000th blog post, I looked back at what I learned. That is a lot of posts over the past dozen years — The Big Picture blog was begun back in 2003. Here’s an excerpt from the column: “After more…Read More
Paul Macrae Montgomery, best known as the originator of the Time Magazine Cover Indicator, and for popularizing the Hemline Indicator of the stock market, died this weekend. He was 72. I was fortunate to have had several conversations with Mongomery over the years. He was humble and soft spoken but he took delight in…Read More