Like essentially everything under the sun, our business is bursting with very strong yet varied, sometimes contradictory viewpoints. Ken Fisher hates annuities. John Bogle is committed to passive money management. Dave Ramsey thinks that people should expect 12% annual returns. Eugene Fama says that markets are efficient. Seth Klarman views that as crazy talk.
Intuitively, we tend to believe that we can bridge the gaps between people and ideas using reason and careful analysis. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that doing so is far harder than we’d like to think. We simply aren’t very good at looking at the available evidence for a given viewpoint with any degree of objectivity. Maybe all this has something to do with America’s declining math scores, but I think the causes are much more insidious.
While information is cheap and getting cheaper, meaning is increasingly expensive. We are beset by confirmation bias, our tendency to look for and accept evidence that supports what we already think we know and ignore the rest. Per motivated reasoning, we tend to reject new evidence when it contradicts our established beliefs. Sadly, the smarter we are, the more likely we are to deny or oppose data that seem in conflict with ideas we deem important. Finally, bringing true believers together in a group tends only to compound the problem.
I hope you’ll read the whole article and the entire issue.