Ultracrepidarians – making the world stupider….

Tuesday 9th May 2017

Ultracrepidarians – making the world stupider….

‘Believe 95% of what you see and 5% of what you hear – and that 5% is very doubtful….’

That’s a quote from William Hill, the bookmaker.

He was talking about horse-racing and how unreliable so-called inside-information about horses frequently proves to be….

But he could easily have been talking about the world of money, economics and investing – all spheres in which it is unwise to place too much reliance on anything you hear coming out of someone’s mouth….

  • You can’t rely on much you hear….

Politicians are more concerned with observing the party-line and playing the power game than they are with the verbal distribution of truth….

Lobbyists and commercial players speak primarily with their vested interests in mind….

Reality is a secondary concern for newspaper editors and journalists who depend on reader-numbers to attract advertisers. Sensation, controversy, the outrageous and the ridiculously exaggerated will always do a better job of building head-count than will a dull truth….

Many of the pundits, influencers and ‘experts’ on TV have personal or professional agendas – generally unstated and routinely unacknowledged….

Economists and other pointy-heads will seldom concede that they ‘don’t know’. They will never confess that – like the rest of us – they don’t have the first clue. Instead they will pass off forecasts, speculations, prediction, guesswork and outright clairvoyance as a form of fact….

You can’t rely on much of what you hear from official or mainstream sources of information….

  • It’s not just the experts….

Here at Money Truths we often have plenty to say on how little anybody really knows – regardless of the confidence or the authority with which they might express it….

George Osborne, for example. Or the multiple bodies and institutions that make it their work to tell us how things are or how things will be….

Our spotlight is often pointed at the big players – the people we hear from on the TV and in the newspapers. The movers and shakers. The people who know how it is. The people who know better than we do….

But it isn’t just the bigwigs, the officials, the experts and the non-stop talking heads we need to be aware of….

Misinformation is in plentiful supply much closer to home. You might find it in your family. Or in the workplace. Or in your church. Or in your sports club. You can come across it at almost any time and in almost any place….

It comes at you thick and fast – like slurry fired from the barrel of a high-powered bazooka – via another potentially very dangerous and widespread species; the ultracrepidarian….

Ultracrepidarian. It’s a wonderful word. But it describes a great threat to the collective knowledge pool.

The ultracrepidarian is the man (or woman) given to expressing opinions beyond his/her area of expertise….

Ultracrepidarianism is a bad habit that many millions of people have adopted and are unable to kick. It is a dangerous practice that serves only to propagate and spread ideas and information that have no basis in either fact or experience….

You might say that ultracrepidarians are busy making the world a stupider place….

  • Making the world a stupider place….

We all know a few ultracrepidarians. You might be able to point one or two out. I have one opposite me as I write.

Personally, I find such people highly amusing. They make for great comedy….

For example, the bricklayer who doesn’t know a chromosome from a cement mixer but insists on explaining, in tremendous detail, exactly how genetic-inheritance works in rabbits….

Or the elderly family member who has never driven a car or even seen a copy of the Highway Code but takes issue with your understanding of the speed limit on a motorway because she has a ‘feeling’ she knows better….

No experience. No actual knowledge. But an opinion they are ready to go to war with, nevertheless.

Sometimes you don’t know whether to admire their pluck or stare aghast at the incomprehensible levels of self-delusion they labor beneath….

  • Comedy figures – but dangerous ones….

But make no mistake. These comedy figures – amusing in small doses – are dangerous.

Their wrong-headed ideas and their nonsensical interpretation of the ‘facts’ can spread like a cold virus – infecting everybody with whom they come into contact.

You must be careful. Too much exposure to such people, and too much ready belief in what they say and believe, can leave you a good deal stupider than you were before.

If knowing a certain truth is a positive; and if not knowing the truth of something one way or another is neutral; then believing something that isn’t true has to be considered a negative….

‘Knowing’ something that isn’t true isn’t knowledge at all. It is anti-knowledge. It subtracts from the overall pool of what is known for sure and by whom….

The more anti-knowledge that is believed, the less there is that is known and the stupider the world becomes – degree by degree….

And all because it is more a part of the human condition to express an opinion (even when there is no basis for having one or doing so) than to confess the truth – that we don’t know….

  • Listen-up and then add salt….

In the world of finance and economics, nobody knows anything – not for sure. Not the big guns you see on the TV or in the newspapers. Nor the man-on-the-street….

So very little of what we hear turns out to be true that your policy should be to automatically question the veracity of anything you are told….

Don’t automatically buying into what the experts on TV say. And take ultracrepidarians and their pronouncements with a generous pinch of salt….

When an expert pundit says oil will go to $90 a barrel, does he really ‘know’? Or is he filling space? Is it truth or opinion? Fact or forecast?

When a fund manager says the market can grow until the top branches are scraping the moon’s surface, is he stating facts or seeking to create a narrative that produces business and commissions in a cautious market?

When your office colleague suddenly reveals he’s a champion stock-picker and urges you to buy a hot stock, is he doing you a genuine service? Or is he ramping some rubbish he’s bought? Or is it all just big talk to impress the new girl who works close by?

When some angry youth starts yelling at Grandpa that a vote for Brexit was a vote for a financially impoverished future for British youth, does he know what he’s talking about? Has he thought it through? Or is he repeating something he’s read? Something written by somebody else who doesn’t really know?

It pays to question. And it pays to think. Before buying into a scantily-dressed opinion masquerading as a ‘fact’….

  • Better to wait and see than pretend….

Right now, between them, the experts and ultracrepidarians have a lot of folk believing the market can and will grow to the sky. It is a nonsense that will eventually end in tears….

Right now, experts and ultracrepidarians have people buying into the belief that Brexit is a certain nail in the economic coffin for British youth. But the future is yet to be written….

The truth is that none of the experts and ultracrepidarians painting the future – according to their own agenda – know how it will pan out. Not for sure. Nobody does.

Forecasts and facts are not the same thing. Opinions are not truths. A belief is not the same thing as an actual outcome – regardless of what politicians, pointy-heads, the press or the ultracrepidarian who lives next door insists to the contrary….

Better to wait and see than to pretend to know. Chances are that reality and the future will turn out to be very different than what we are being told. It nearly always does. What you are told is often the best guide to what not to believe….

That’s how it looks from here….

I’ll be back on Friday morning with something very interesting to report.

All the best,

Dave Gibson

Money Truths