Stop Believing in Myths: 2

More myths, continued from the previous part of this series: Stop Believing in Myths: 1

6] Richer or smarter people are more trustworthy.

Your financial advisor, stock-broker, doctor, lawyer, builder, head of your company is MUCH LESS trustworthy than the shifty-looking guy trying to steal from a big box store. Not only can these “respectable” professionals cause more financial and non-financial damage per scam, but they feel entitled to rape your ass. At least the average criminal knows that he is doing something wrong..

The “respectable” professional considers cheating, scamming and misleading you as part of his/her business. They are actually upset if you complain and demand accountability. I have never understood how average white people can be stupid enough to concentrate on the non-white shoplifter when they are being pauperized, lied to, stolen from and given poor treatment by the trustworthy educated “professionals”.

7] Working hard is the path to riches.

Seriously, how can people still believe this crap? Study the life history of any 10 random rich people and you will realize that chance, luck, government largess and scams are the major factors determining “success”. Working hard is for suckers like you, who believe that it will help them become rich. Now this does not mean that working hard will not make somebody rich- just not you. But keep killing yourself to line the pockets of others.

Working hard would only work for you in a world where most people did not become wealthy from legal theft. Look around you- do we live in that world yet?

8] Government is bad, private enterprise is good. Regulations are bad, the free market is self-correcting.

While I am no supporter of the public sector, it is hard to ignore that the private sector often fucks up even more. While the idea of bureaucrats running hotels, restaurants and malls is nightmarish, we know what happens when harvard MBAs try to manage the very utilities that make civilization possible. Do you want your power plants, electricity grid, road network, water and sewage systems built and run by for profit shysters with no regulatory oversight?

In any case, there is no “real free market” and there never was one. What we have is an uneasy compromise between legalized looting of people and fear of anarchy. Concepts in eCONomics such as “free market”, “rational actors” etc are theoretical concepts with no links to reality.

9] The wisdom of ‘famous’ people from previous eras is useful.

NO, it is not! While humans might not have evolved much in the last three thousand years, the technology and possibilities inherent in its use have made a lot of older maxims and concepts worse than useless. Even a simple and evolutionary advance such as free or inexpensive blogs has changed the way news is created, read and understood. To say that the loss of monopoly by mass media has no significant effects on the way people perceive, understand and react towards events is disingenuous.

Much of the ‘wisdom’ of earlier eras was based in social systems with very different living standards, attitudes, possibilities, opportunities and consequences than what we currently have. You cannot fly a 5th generation supersonic airplane with the flying manual of a WW1 era biplane, though they are both flying machines with similar basic controls and paradigms.

10] We should all try to lead normal lives.

Normal, as defined by whom? and when? Why should you try to achieve something or emulate a behavior that is not in you best interests? While they may have ‘worked as advertised’ in the past, do they still ‘work as advertised’?

LTRs with women, marriage, having kids, financial frugality, loyalty etc once used to work as advertise or gave a reasonably good outcome in most previous eras. They were rarely suicidal.. can you honestly say that now? The only people who benefit from your wish to have a normal life is EVERYONE BUT YOU. You want to be the sucker? go ahead..

You do not want to pay for sex? Fine- pay child support for a kid you rarely see. Want to enjoy matrimony? Hey, someone has to create business for the wedding, divorce and housing industry. Want to be financially frugal? Watch your savings melt away as financial advisors make money for themselves while destroying your capital. Want to be loyal to a business, person or institution- Enjoy the screwing you are going to get.

I will tackle more myths in the next part of this series.


  1. ijustwanthefacts
    August 16, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    what blogs/websites/books would you recommend?

  2. August 16, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    ““rational actors” etc are theoretical concepts with no links to reality.”

    Recently, Vinay Deolalikar published an alleged proof that P!=NP, one of the biggest unproven conjectures in mathematics (serious flaws have since been found in the proof). Within days, people were talking about making bets about the proof’s integrity, and from there, about the economics thereof. How would a “perfect rational actor” bet upon such a thing…

    …But this illustrates perfectly the problem with traditional economics. The hypothetical “perfectly rational actor” **KNOWS** whether P!=NP or not, and knows how to prove it either way (or, if it’s unprovable, knows how to prove *that*). And even if the bet is strictly about Deolalikar’s proof, rather than the truth of the statement itself– the “perfectly rational actor” can simply read the proof and immediately assess its validity or lack thereof. (In real life, it’s taking teams of the world’s best mathematicians to slowly comb through the 60+ page proof, but that shouldn’t stop our hypothetical “perfectly rational actor”!)

    Here’s a paper which absolutely destroys the perfectly rational actor idea:

  3. The Plague Doctor
    August 17, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Mostly agree with your points, except:

    7] Working hard is the path to riches.

    This is true, but only if you start your own company. Working long hours for wages will not make you rich. See the book “The Millionaire Mind” for research on occupations and working hours of millionaires.

    8] Government is bad, private enterprise is good. Regulations are bad, the free market is self-correcting. […] Do you want your power plants, electricity grid, road network, water and sewage systems built and run by for profit shysters with no regulatory oversight?

    Yes I do. Don’t even get me started about this point; I am stuck in the crappy health care system of a country that has “free” “socialized” health care. You get what you pay for.

    One does not need to assume the straw man of omniscient actors to be in favor of a free market.

    • The Plague Doctor
      August 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm

      The book also shows how millionaires are very frugal: clipping coupons, resoling their shoes, etc. You don’t get rich by spending money. Due to illness, in the past two years I have been running through my savings with breathtaking speed. It sucks.

  4. c666
    August 17, 2010 at 8:02 am

    I don’t understand your arguments against frugality.

    Will explain in a future post.

    Frugality makes it possible for one to enjoy a comfortable standard of living without working too hard, which you caution against in #7.

    No! Frugality is the ultimate expression of a zero-sum game.

    The main reason that I’m able to enjoy a relatively stress-free lifestyle is because I’m not constantly spending my money on stupid shit. If I did, I’d have to take steps to significantly boost my earning power, work overtime more frequently, etc. As it is, I have no kids, no girlfriend, no car and no mortgage. I ride a bike everywhere, do martial arts as my hobby, live a very non-materialistic lifestyle in a small apartment, and end up saving enough money to go on vacations to Europe or wherever. If you want to convince me that I’d improve my life through lavish spending and conspicuous consumption, please try.

    • c666
      August 17, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Sorry, but your references to a zero-sum game are abstract, and I don’t see it as pertinent to the issue of frugality at all. To deal with specifics, if I decided to cease being frugal and buy a Ferrari, I’d have to work significantly longer and harder to pay it off than I had to work to pay off my bike (which I paid for in cash, without incurring debt). Purchasing a Ferrari would be an utterly stupid decision. If you think frugality is bad, try to convince me that I’d be better off purchasing a Ferrari?

      • The Plague Doctor
        August 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

        Anyone who agrees frugality and saving money is bad… send your money to me!

      • Ted
        August 18, 2010 at 6:03 am

        You also have to consider sudden changes. An accident that prevents you from working or losing your job may drastically cut your income. As the cliche goes, you cannot live a champagne lifestyle on a bee budget.

  5. Chief of the Slapaho Tribe
    August 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I too am interested in this concept of an argument against frugality. It seems that since DA is going to dedicate a post to it that his argument is going to be more involved than what is being assumed here. So, we should wait for that future post and then discuss it.

  1. August 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm
  2. September 9, 2010 at 4:56 pm
  3. October 7, 2010 at 6:34 am

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