The ‘Anti-Columnist’ Part 3: The Art of Not Reading

“In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should be not on concentration, but on attention. Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

I was pleasantly surprised to learn I made it into the final round of the MarketWatch “World’s Next Greatest Investing Columnist” competition.

The surprise (and what made it pleasant) was that 3 finalists were voted in by receiving the most Facebook “Likes” and another 3 were selected by editors; I was in the latter group, which I believe to be a more respectable distinction….

With that said, those of you who voted on Facebook certainly helped me get noticed by the editors. Thank-you! So please vote again in this final round (see how to vote at the bottom of this post).

The next challenge I faced was thinking of a column topic worthy of a final round submission–something instructive and useful but not distracting–and something in my natural voice. It only took a few minutes for me to arrive at the idea, which would remain within the anti-columnist frame of the prior two contest submissions…

“The art of not reading is a very important one. It consists in not taking an interest in whatever may be engaging the attention of the general public at any particular time. When some political or ecclesiastical pamphlet, or novel, or poem is making a great commotion, you should remember that he who writes for fools always finds a large public. A precondition for reading good books is not reading bad ones: for life is short.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

There is certainly a “junk in, junk out” result that comes from the information you consume. Therefore, to think well, it is imperative to read well; and one’s information diet needs to be mindfully balanced for it to be healthy.

For the article, I decided to add value by interviewing some prominent bloggers, Barry Ritholtz from The Big Picture and Tadas Viskanta from Abnormal Returns; and it was no surprise that they both shared with me observations of a correlation between poor investment returns and poor information diets.

The solution is to allocate the attention so as to minimize the potential for poor judgment that often arises out of an overabundance of information. To begin this healthy allocation, one simply identifies and eliminates the bad sources of information and attempts a less is more, quality over quantity approach to information consumption.

The art of good reading begins by learning the art of identifying and not reading the unhealthy sources.

To see Barry’s answers to some of my questions, please read my MarketWatch article, The Price of Paying Attention, and don’t forget to vote by clicking on the “Like” button near top of the article’s web page!

Thanks again to Barry and to all of you here at The Big Picture for your support…


Kent Thune is blog author of The Financial Philosopher, where this post was first published.  You can follow him on Twitter @TheThinkersQuill.

[Note for Barry’s readers: He answers my questions on the MarketWatch Article but he plans to publish the entire interview here on TBP soon.]

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