Thursday, April 16, 2009

Follow the Greats; Think for Yourself

In the comments section of a previous post, I wrote the following:

[A]nother problem for the investor that dispenses with thinking--on the premise that "if it's good enough for investor x, it's good enough for me"--is that he never actually develops as an investor.

So, not only is he paralyzed in the face of new data, or extremely unsure and "trigger-happy", but his mind is stultified in a sort of permanent state of dependence on what others think.

The above is exactly the type of mentality that is usually punished severely (at least over the long-term)--again, both in life as in investing. It is no coincidence that every great investor routinely speaks negatively about group-think...
As a scribbler on everything from paper and the margins of my books to restaurant napkins and my hand, I have to consolidate my notes every once in a while to keep my notes clean and organized.

Last night, when doing so, I found this passage from John Galt's speech in Atlas Shrugged written down:

An error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.
Think about that sentence for a minute. Do you agree? Imagine if a government agency (like, I don't know, the SEC) forced some of the truly great investors to divulge their investment positions quarterly, would you be a better investor after following their picks blindly for ten years or after thinking for yourself just one?

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