The Price of ‘Attention Unworthies’ . . . ?

While I was working on my collection of lessons for my WaPo column this week, I ended up finding all manner of interesting, amusing but ultimately unusable items. Some of these were ironic and funny and snarly, but I did not want the column to be “The Schadenfreude Chronicles.”  Rather, I wanted to find real lessons that were usable for investor and business types.

However, lots of this stuff was too good to just throw away. So as a wrap up to this week’s theme of Lessons of the election, I’d like to point out some of the folks who distinguished themselves, but mostly in the wrong way.

As per last weekend’s discussion on info sources, these are the methodologies, organizations, and yes, people whom you should quarantine as dangerous to your wealth. They have poor long term track records, (pretty awful is a fair descriptor). Their approaches favor wants and hope over data, confirmation bias over mathematics, and cognitive dissonance over objective reality.

If you can recognize this sort of foolishness in real time, you can avoid allowing these folks to help you lose money. Perhaps we can start giving out awards for this kinda stuff:


Big Money Loser (Institutional): Wall Street

Wall Street bet heavily on a Romney victory, and lost. Not only is Dodd Frank and the Volcker rule going to be a thorn in their paw for the foreseeable future, but Senator Elect Elizabeth Warren is going to haunt them for at least 6 years.

Bonus stupidity: Hasn’t anyone on Wall Street ever heard of Hedging?


Source: Quartz


-Honorable Mention: Intrade, whose numbers were consistently less accurate than Betfair and other prediction markets. I don’t know why, but they were much less accurate, and not nearly as reliable as other sites.


Big Money Loser, Super Pac edition: American Crossroads

Karl Rove’s Superpac spent over $300 million dollars — net results were a loss of 2 senate seats, 1 house seat — oh, and the Presidency.

Whoever gives this guy money might as well burn the cash for kindling.


Source: ‏@bendimiero


The Stating the Obvious Award: XKCD: Math Matters


The delightful nerd comic xkcd tickled my funny bone with this instant classic:

Source: xkcd


Innumeracy Award for most Mathematically Incompetent:

I dont know if they simply made up their own numbers of just cherry picked what they liked (Selection Bias, Confirmation Bias). Nearly every data point they ran was wrong.

This screenshot shows their Ohio exit polling data — and it was simply delusional:




The ‘Not Nate Silver’ but Close Award: Votamatic

Every one has been talking about 538, but Simon Jackson’s Votamatic predicted 91.4% Chance Obama Wins with 332 electoral college votes.



Nicely done!


• Right Wing Can’t Be Wrong All the Time Award: While much of the conservative movement were happily living in their artificial bubble, one right wing pundit made the early call in February 2011: “Ann Coulter says that if we don’t run Chris Christie for President, then Romney will win the nomination and we’ll lose in 2012.”

I have to chalk this one up to luck, as she is so often wrong about, well practically everything else she ever writes, speaks or I assume, thinks.

Bonus: Bruce Bartlett nailed it as well — Why Romney Can’t Beat Obama in 2012 — but since he is rational and not criminally insane, its less notable.


• Most Notable Election Jackass: Donald Trump

The Donald’s election night meltdown was consistent with his persona of a self promotional blowhard assclown. Brian Williams summed up the Tweets, by broadcasting “Donald Trump, who has driven well past the last exit to relevance and veered into something closer to irresponsible here is Tweeting tonight.”


Source: Daily Mail


A fledgling movement has begun — trying to get his horrific MensWear removed from Macy*s and a boycott of his inane show on NBC. And while I never followed him, today, I blocked @realDonaldTrump — It felt great!

Trump: The only business person who has managed to lose money in both NYC Real Estate AND casinos is now well past his Sell By Date.



My advice to you goes well beyond politics: It does not matter if they are left, right center or far right — note who has a process that works, and bookmark their site. Note who does not, and throw da bums out. These are the money losers, and The Price of Paying Attention to them is simply too great. Delete the bookmark, quarantine them and move on.

Your portfolio will thank you . . .



The Price of Paying Attention (November 2012)

Information Triage (April 2011)

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