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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Why you never learn from your investment mistakes

By Morgan Housel





Great investors are practically allergic to these biases


JewishWorldReview.com | Study successful investors and you'll notice a common denominator: They are masters of psychology. They can't control the market, but they have complete control over the gray matter between their ears.

And lucky them. Most of us, on the other hand, are mental catastrophes. As investor Barry Ritholtz once put it:

"You're a monkey. It all comes down to that. You are a slightly clever, pants-wearing primate. If you forget that you're nothing more than a monkey who has been fashioned by eons on the plains, being chased by tigers, you shouldn't invest. You have to be aware of how your own psychology affects what you do."

Take one of the most powerful theories in behavior psychology: cognitive dissonance. It's the term psychologists use for the uncomfortable feeling you get when having two conflicting thoughts at the same time. "Smoking is bad for me. I'm going to go smoke." That's cognitive dissonance.

We hate cognitive dissonance and jump through hoops to reduce it. The easiest way to reduce it is to engage in mental gymnastics that justify behavior we know is wrong. "I had a stressful day and I deserve a cigarette." Now you can smoke guilt-free. Problem solved.

Humans are one of the only creatures that engage in this self-deluding behavior. In their excellent book, "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)," Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson write:

"A dog may appear contrite for having been caught peeing on the carpet, but she will not try to think up justifications for her misbehavior. Humans think; and because we think, dissonance theory demonstrated that our behavior transcends the effects of rewards and punishment and often contradicts them."

Yes, when it comes to learning from bad behavior, you are at a disadvantage to an incontinent puppy.

Cognitive dissonance is especially toxic in the emotional cesspool that is managing money. Raise your hand if this is you:


  • You criticize Wall Street for being a casino while checking your portfolio twice a day.

  • You sold your stocks in 2009 because the Fed was printing money. When stocks doubled in value soon after, you blamed it on the Fed printing money.

  • You put $1,000 on a hyped penny stock your brother convinced you is the next Facebook. After losing everything, you tell yourself you were just investing for the entertainment.

  • You call the government irresponsible for running a deficit while simultaneously saddling yourself with an unaffordable mortgage.

  • You buy a stock only because you think it's cheap. When you realize you were wrong, you decide to hold it because you like the company's customer service.


Almost all of us do something similar with our money. We have to believe our decisions make sense. So when faced with a situation that doesn't make sense, we fool ourselves into believing something else.

Worse, another bias -- confirmation bias -- causes us to bond with people whose self-delusions look like our own. Those who missed the rally of the last four years are more likely to listen to analysts who forecast another crash. Investors who feel burned by the Fed visit websites that share the same view. Bears listen to fellow bears; bulls listen to fellow bulls.

Before long, you've got a trifecta of failure: You make a bad decision, rationalize it by fighting cognitive dissonance and reinforce it with confirmation bias. No wonder the average investor does so poorly.

Great investors are different. They are practically allergic to these biases.

Value investor Mohnish Pabrai has an outstanding long-term track record, but he spends an inordinate amount of time analyzing his mistakes.

In an interview last year, Pabrai told me about his response to 2008, when he (and nearly everyone else) lost a lot of money. Rather than rationalizing his poor performance by blaming Wall Street, he set out to learn from what were, after all, his investment decisions. "I clearly studied my own mistakes, and I went back systematically and documented why we lost money on these different investments," he said. Studying his mistakes eventually led to a checklist Pabrai now consults before making new investments. "The checklist significantly brought down the error rate," he said.


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Most investors don't think like this. Which is why Pabrai outperforms most investors.

Billionaire Ray Dalio is similar. His hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, has a policy that every employee must always speak their mind, even if it means telling a superior they're wrong.

"Successful people ask for the criticism of others and consider its merit," Dalio writes in his employee handbook. "Remember that your goal is to find the best answer, not to give the best one you have."

Most investors don't do this. They assume their opinion (or the opinion of those who agree with them) must be right, and will delude themselves into justifying a belief when shown opposing facts. Dalio doesn't put up with this behavior -- which is part of why he's a billionaire, and you and I are not.

"The brain is designed with blind spots," Tavris and Aronson write, "and one of its cleverest tricks is to confer on us the comforting delusion that we, personally, do not have any." Alas, you do. And they're preventing you from becoming a better investor. Fight them as hard as you can.

(Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.)

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Morgan Housel, a columnist at The Motley Fool, is a two-time winner, Best in Business award, Society of American Business Editors and Writers and Best in Business 2012, Columbia Journalism Review.


Previously:


The curse of success, and why most mutual funds fail miserably

If you know only five things about investing, make it these

Why spotting bubbles is so much harder than you think

When smart investors do stupid things

The deep downside of home ownership

The biggest retirement myth ever told

He's rich, smart and old: Listen to him

Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on

Gold collapse: The start of something big?

BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!

Twitter: The carnival barker of investing

Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets

25 important things to remember as an investor

New paradigm for both drivers and car companies

Biases that make you a bad investor

Nine financial rules you should never forget

Gaining from financial destruction

How to read financial news

Housing: Partying like it's 1925

A rebuttal to student loan horror stories

CONGRATULATIONS: We just saved half a trillion dollars

End this crazy tax: It will boost the economy

Medicare: A dangerously good deal

Economic future looks bright

The Biggest Threat to Your Portfolio (It's Not What You Think)

Bond Market Bull Run dead at 30



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