Thursday, January 20, 2005

Four Words

I was talking to my (Neile) boss today about structural bias as it relates to investing. Human structural bias, as it were. We all see the world through a philosophic lense, and depending on the correction of that lense, what we "see" may be severely distorted. People make gigantic, crushing mistakes in financial markets all the time because they fail to recognize their own structural bias.

I've known Neile for a long time, and I was sure I knew his structural bias. So I asked him "If you had four words to describe your own bias, what would it be?" He thought for a few seconds, but given the four word requirement, he was stumped. So I said "Things will work out," and he agreed. Neile is an optimistic person, and that optimism is his lense.

Then he asked "So, in four words, what is your bias?"
"*uck if I know," I said.
After he stopped laughing, he said "This is a pretty good way to size somebody up."
"It could be used for speed dating," I said. "Your nametag would be the four words that describe your structural bias."
"That's a great idea!" he said.
"You'd be wearing a tag that read 'Things will work out.' Mine would read '*uck if I know.' This is why you think it's a great idea. It's also why I never dated much when I was single."

Actually, my real four word bias is "Don't be so sure." I know, that's five without the contraction. It's allowed.

Now if you can figure out your four words, send them to me and I'll publish a list in a few days. No names, just four words. Each.

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