Sunday, May 04, 2008

What everyone says must be true

Or is it?

The Wisdom of Crowds (by James Surowiecki) has been a popular book in recent times where the author put forward the view that the cumulative opinions of a large group of people tends to get the right answer to problems. Perhaps in some circumstances they do. But anyone who has been around any time will know that what everyone is saying can sometimes be wrong.

Stock market manias tend to happen when the herd has become convinced that some item is a sure fire winner and you have to have it. Common-sense flies out the window and people suspend disbelief because they want the story to be true. Just as we made ourselves believe in fairy tales when we are young because we wanted to experience the thoughts and emotions of the story so, in adult life, we want to believe the impressive person who tells us we are all going to be rich.

If it is too good to be true it usually isn't. Always be wary of something you desperately want to be true; try to have it checked out in every rational way possible.

Remember, the folk who make the most money in stocks tend to be those who take a contrarian view at the right time.

No comments:

Post a Comment