A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.
The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.
To the question “Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth,” 26 percent of those surveyed answered incorrectly.
You’re laughing, but these are the people who inhabit the securities markets with you. They believe all sorts of ridiculous mythology about investing also. They believe that a person can accurately pick 20 stocks a week and have the purchase prices for those stocks mentioned in a public forum be flawless. They believe that a process exists by which a market involving tens of millions of independent participants can be predicted consistently and on multiple timeframes.
About three in four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief, according to a recent Gallup survey. The most popular is extrasensory perception (ESP), mentioned by 41%, followed closely by belief in haunted houses (37%).
People watching or reading financial media actually believe that the pros are usually right about the exact timing of every investment, therefore when one is caught being wrong, early or late, it is somehow some sort of travesty. They howl like children for “accountability!” As though anyone can actually divine the perfect buy and sell prices for securities on a regular basis. This belief is as embarrassing as talking openly about haunted houses and telepathy with a straight face. We don’t bring up the supernatural in polite company so as not to be branded as “crazy” – but in a financial setting, we suspend any pretense of rationality and go right to the Ouija board.
7% of Americans in the survey believed the moon landing was faked, 14% believed in Bigfoot and 4% accepted that “shape-shifting alien reptilian people control our world by taking on human form”.
You’ve met at least one hundred other people who are currently investing in the markets, alongside of you and against you. Of that one hundred people, four of them believe the proceedings are being overseen by green men from space. Fourteen of them believe in Bigfoot. What else will they readily accept, contrary to all common sense and in the absence of any proof whatsoever? Will they believe that charting the lines of a previous era’s stock market sets up some sort of prophecy that is on the cusp of fulfillment?
A new poll shows more than 20% of Americans believe in witches, 32% believe in ghosts, and 25% think astrology is legit.
We mock astrology but bend our ears to any discussion about “signals” and “indicators” so long as the speaker looks and acts as though he or she knows more than we do. We believe that the current moment or the recent past is predictive of the future no matter how many times this is shown to be a fallacious cognitive defect in the way our brains work.
Over the years, Crawford found his predictions working out so well that, in 1977, he set up business as a full-time astrological adviser. He’s since been named “Wall Street’s best-known astrologer” by Barron’s.
Today around 2,000 traders from the United States, Britain, Australia and Japan pay $200 a year to receive his subscription newsletter. Although he’s duty-bound not to reveal their identities, he says, “I’ve got major traders from all the Wall Street companies. I’ve had big names since the beginning.” And Crawford’s not the only one. The newsletter of Michigan “astro-finance consultancy” MMA Cycles claims 7,000 subscribers. Commodities trader Henry Weingarten charges up to $1,000 a session at his New York Astrology Center.
You are surrounded by people like this every day, to greater or lesser degree, and their views sometimes make it into the news. You may even have been influenced by them at times, unwittingly.
This is what’s out there. This is what we must endure each day as we attempt a rational course forward in our investing. Easier said than done – the charlatans and escaped mental patients rarely wear a sign around their necks.