I believe NY Times and TheStreet.com reporter Marek Fuchs wrote a review of my new book without even reading it. I should note that in our email exchange below it was fairly predictable that Fuchs would go down the path of “Mike doesn’t have thick enough skin” as a defense for me questioning his competence. When you catch a reporter, a NY Times reporter, in the middle of sloppy reporting, its not surprising that when you press hard (which I did), he would come out arrogantly swinging back. Our email conversation:
Covel: Are you familiar with the factual errors in your review of my book?
Fuchs: I’ve written thousands of articles and have only made a handful of errors, but I am sorry I said you ran the experiment in my article (I didn’t make the sloppy mistake in my video). In quickly trying to edit out of a passively constructed “an experiment was run…” I slipped and I’m sorry. If there are any other errors, please let me know.
Covel: I have had feedback from a ton of people about your review. Intellectually honest criticism is one thing, I welcome it. But for a NY Times reporter to not read my book, and attempt to review it (while making factual errors), is frankly sad. One of my blog readers summed your effort up:
Reading the review of your book by Mr. Fuchs reminded of me an expression that goes something along the lines of ‘It is better to let the world think you are ignorant than to open your mouth and prove it’. Well, Mr. Fuchs may not have opened his mouth per se, but clearly his written word was more than sufficient to highlight his ignorance.
A follow-up from the same above reader:
When I sent my initial comment below I did not realize that Fuchs had posted the video review. Now that I have watched that review, I stand corrected of my original comment. Mr. Fuchs was in fact good enough to open his mouth to prove his ignorance. Criticism that is rooted in a difference of professional opinion or a failure to comprehend the subject matter (after making an effort to do so) is one thing. Criticism such as Fuchs’ which results from apparently nothing but an attempt to smear a book and its author without taking to the time to read the book much less obtaining at least a minimal understanding of the subject matter (i.e., the Turtles) is simply lazy and irresponsible. Apparently Fuchs doesn’t subscribe to the Jim Cramer mantra of ‘doing your homework’.
I would love to see you read my book one day.
Fuchs: Michael–Please don’t play that game. I read that book and can send you a bunch of letters too–including one from a former student of your’s–agreeing with my assesment [sic]. (He liked your class very much, by the way.) Again, if you think I made a specific error (other than the attribution of the contest in the aritlce [sic] and not the video–and I’m sorry for that) please let me know.
Covel: A former student? Huh? I am not Richard Dennis, I did not teach the Turtles. What are you talking about? Additionally:
1. You imply that the Turtles, the traders in my book, are slow and steady. Clearly, they were not. They were high risk and high reward.
2. You say that the Turtle students were already successful. My book does not say this, nor is this an accurate description of events. The Turtle story is about taking people who were not wildly successful already and making them successful.
3. You mockingly read a passage (with a smiling kid on your lap for good measure) from my book about a tortoise and hare. Problem? That story is not in my book. The word ‘hare’ is not in my book.
4. You don’t understand that the Turtle traders were not fundamental traders and mockingly refer to my book advocating the use of momentum strategies. No kidding! That is what the book is about. You say “No turtle I know is a momentum player.” That statement demonstrates no grasp about what the Turtle experiment even was. Here are some comparison reviews, not to say you needed to praise my book (I could care less), but to show that you did not read the book (1), (2), (3), & (4). Maybe you glanced at some pages in my book, but you don’t have the facts even remotely understood. You demonstrate that in your writing and video. As I said, sad reporting.
Fuchs: Michael: I’m glad you may have gotten some good reivews [sic]. Better reason, perhaps, to have a thicker skin on a bad one. Look: in my subjective opinion, I did not like the book and did not think it would help investors who read it–the lens through which I judge. I never said the Turtles were already sucessful [sic] on Wall Street, but that they had sucess [sic] in other areas. Since many on Wall Street–those I used to work with, those I write about–come from varied backgrounds, I think trumpeting the fact that these one time novices did well makes too much of this (or any other) method. Plenty–as I made clear–have come from other fields. That is important for readers to know. In terms of the introduction of the video, that was a wry take on the turtle reference–I trust viewers know that the children’s tale of the turtle and the hare preceded this book. And, look, laying out a “sound” and “easy to follow” system for trading certainly implies a steadiness–especially when drawing a comparison with the braying on cable television. Problem was, too much of the advice, in the end, takes the form of platitudes. This is dangerous when the aim is fairly aggressive trading. That’s what I read, that’s what I said and that’s why I don’t think this is a good book for investors. Look–I’ve gotten plenty of letters, including from those who say they were seminar students of yours, that they were disappointed in the book. I’ve also gotten letters that they loved the book and I am the dumbest thing since the Edsel. I side with the first and I’ll hazard a guess that you throw your hat in with the second.
Covel: I welcome bad reviews from people who have read the book. Intellectually honest debates are great. However, you still don’t have a clue what the book is even about and continue to misrepresent basic facts in it. Your email is further confirmation of that fact. Perhaps you were just lazy that day? No matter, it was an extremely weak effort for a NY Times reporter.