Robin Hanson is an associate professor of economics at George Mason University and a research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He is an expert on idea futures and markets, was involved in the creation of the Foresight Institute’s Foresight Exchange, and DARPA’s Future MAP project. He is co-author of “The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.” And today Robin and Michael dive right into the heart of our hidden motives.
“The Elephant in the Brain” helps confront hidden motives embedded in the brain–things people don’t like to talk about, also known as, elephants in the room. Robin shows that once our brains are able to confront these blind spots, we can better have a grasp on ourselves and the motivations behind how we think–which of course can then lead to possibly better policy.
Think about it: Why does one person find another attractive? Why do we laugh? Robin answers these questions and more throughout his work. He forces you to dig into the deeper, darker parts of your psyche and look in the mirror. And Michael takes great pleasure in letting Robin reveal his awesome insights on today’s show.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Humans as political animals
Deception vs. self deception
Understanding your motivations
“You won’t see yourself — or the world — the same after confronting the elephant in the brain.” – Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler
I can’t remember how I stumbled onto you podcast several years ago, but it was one of the best things I have done for understanding investing and life.
Your recent Podcast #599 – where you play an excerpt from your new book was just unbelievably fantastic. It really put together the concepts of my favorite book “The Little Book of Behavioral Finance” by James Montier of GMO into a short 30 minute capsule. (By the way James Montier would be a great guest if you could get him).
Thanks to your podcast, I can listen for 30 minutes every week to remind myself of all the behavioral biases working for and against successful trading.
Thank you very much for all your hard work.
Note: Parable from Edward Allen Toppel. Toppel was an independent floor trader in the S&P 500 futures pit in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. He has nearly 20 years of floor experience and has been a member of the Chicago Board Options Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. Prior to being a trader, he worked at Bear, Stearns & Company.
Caught this great excerpt from Mike Aponte that applies to trend following and or any other life pursuit:
One of the questions I’m often asked is, “What is the most important trait in becoming a professional card counter?” The first thing that jumps to mind for most people is genius mathematical ability. True, being good at math is a plus, but the math involved in card counting is simple, middle school arithmetic. We’re not talking advanced calculus or differential equations. Having trained many people how to count cards at a professional level, there are three traits that are more important than mathematical ability. At the top, I rank high commitment level as #1.
With every person that I have trained that went on to become an accomplished card counter, it was very evident from my first interaction with them, that they were not only willing, but excited about putting in the time and energy necessary to master the knowledge and skills necessary to gain the winning edge. My most successful student to date, “Al”, is someone who barely graduated high school, getting D’s in math. During the time that I spent with AL, it became apparent that he was an underachiever when he was younger, but at the same time Al certainly was nowhere in the math league of Good Will Hunting. But what Al had going for him, was a real, serious commitment to turning his fortunes around at the blackjack tables. And to his credit he did exactly that. Many people have a get-rich-quick mentality, focusing only on the potential upside, not on what it takes to get there. No matter the endeavor, there are no shortcuts to achieving your goals.
Who is Aponte? The bio: “Mike Aponte, also known as MIT Mike, is a professional blackjack player and a former member of the MIT Blackjack Team. Aponte was part of a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students that legally won millions playing blackjack at casinos around the world by counting cards. He is the basis for one of the main characters, Jason Fisher, in the book, Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich, which inspired the motion picture, 21.”
Mike was one of my earliest podcast guests. You can listen here:
I still remember where we did that interview–great Mexican restaurant on PCH right near the intersection with Newport Coast Drive. Wow what a view! Had to pull a shot from Google:
Very experienced guys make great interviews. They bring age, perspective and wisdom to the table. Tom DeMark and Perry Kaufman are two men that have previously been on the podcast that exemplify this statement. Michael went back into the archives to bring these men and their interviews on the podcast today.
Perry Kaufman is an American systematic trader, index developer, and quantitative financial theorist. He is considered a leading expert in the development of fully algorithmic trading programs. He currently is president of Kaufman Analytics.
Tom DeMark is founder and CEO of DeMark Analytics and the creator of the DeMark Indicators. Tom considers himself a market timer and believes that fundamentals are critical; however, he and Michael still have a lot in common. His work is price and technically driven.
Like sharp instruments and strong spirits, leverage confers many benefits, but only when used with care.
Limit losses and ride profits, irrespective of all other rules.
Of all the speculative blunders, there are few greater than trying to average a losing game.
Always sell what shows you a loss and keep what shows you a profit.
You can’t force Bitcoin into giving you something it doesn’t have to give.
Talk is cheap and Bitcoin rumors are even cheaper.
Courage in a speculator is merely the confidence to act on the decision of his mind.
A loss never bothers me after I take it. But being wrong, not taking the loss, that is what does the damage to the Bitcoin pocketbook and to the soul.
The Bitcoin trend is evident to a man who has an open mind and reasonably clear sight.
In a narrow market, when price moves within a narrow range, the thing to do is to watch the market, read the Bitcoin tape to determine the limits of prices, and make up your mind that you will not take an interest until the price breaks through the limit in either direction.
Watch Bitcoin with one objective: to determine the direction of price tendency.
Bitcoin prices, like everything else, move along the line of least resistance.
It cost me a million dollars to learn that the dangerous enemy to a trader is the susceptibility to the urging of magnetic personality combined with a brilliant mind.
Have a profit? Forget it. Have a loss? Forget it even quicker.
It was never my thinking that made the big money for me. It was my sitting, my sitting tight.
There is only one side to the Bitcoin market and it is not the bull side or the bear side, but the right side.
If you don’t know what’s going on, don’t do anything. Bitcoin is never wrong, opinions often are.
Don’t be too curious about the reasons behind Bitcoin moves. The smarter you are, the longer it takes.
When time is up, markets will reverse.
Don’t expect the Bitcoin tape to be a lecturer. It’s enough to see that something is wrong.
Don’t imagine that Bitcoin that once sold at 17000 is cheap at 15000.
A man does not swear eternal allegiance to either the bear or bull side of Bitcoin. People believe what it pleases them to believe.
Trend followers plan when they will get out before they ever get in. Know every day what your portfolio is worth.
Calculate what your risks are on any given day for all Bitcoin positions.
Controlling risk is not the same thing as avoiding risk. If managing risk is an integral part of your philosophy, when your risk level goes up or down, you simply adjust.
Buy Bitcoin market strength and sell market weakness.
Keep a positive attitude, no matter how much you lose.
Don’t take the Bitcoin market home.
Dream big dreams and think tall. Very few people set goals too high. A man becomes what he thinks about all day long.
In the world of money, in a world shaped by human behavior, nobody has the foggiest notion of what will happen in the future. Mark that word. Nobody.
When the Bitcoin ship starts to sink, don’t pray…jump!
Assimilate into your very bones a set of trading rules that works for you. Thou shall not trade against the Bitcoin trend up or down.
There is nothing new on Wall Street. There can’t be, because speculation is as old as the hills.
Whatever happens in Bitcoin today has happened before and will happen again.
An ability to shift on a dime in Bitcoin is critical when shifting time comes.
A common deception—self-deception.
Fools try to prove that they are right. Wise men try to find when they are wrong.
All see; few observe, fewer still compare.
The foolishness of the many is the opportunity of the few.
The man who conforms never transforms.
Some men are alive after they are dead; others are dead while still alive.
The unpardonable sin–not to make money in Bitcoin.
Lastly, consider William Worthington Fowler’s wisdom circa 1870:
“To the merchant and banker, it is a financial centre, collecting and distributing money, regulating the exchanges of a continent and striking balances of trade with London and Frankfort. To the outside observer and novice, it is a kind of work-shop thronged by cunning artisans who work in precious metals, where vessels of gold and silver are wrought or made to shine with fresh luster, and where old china is fire-gilt as good as new. The moralist and philosopher look upon it as a gambling-den, a cage of unclean birds, an abomination where men drive a horrible trade, fattening and battening on the substance of their friends and neighbors—or perhaps a kind of modern coliseum where gladiatorial combats are joined, and bulls, bears, and other ferocious beasts gore and tear each other for public amusement. The brokers regard it as a place of business where, in mercantile parlance, they may ply a legitimate trade, buying and selling for others on commission. To the speculators, it is a caravansera where they may load or unload their camels and drive them away betimes to some pleasant oasis. To the financial commanders it is an arsenal in which their arms and chariots are stored, the stronghold to be defended or besieged, the field for strategy, battles and plunder.”
Follow these trend following rules and you can make a money up and down and up and down in Bitcoin.
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