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hocus
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2003 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But ousting intercst from the board he founded?

Don't go sentimental on me, OK?

How do you feel about him ousting me and wanderer from the board we made a success, BenSolar? The founding counts for something, I don't deny that. But I know what is involved in founding a board. It takes about 10 minutes of work; I did it myself once. The founding is not really such a big deal.

The much harder job is the job of building a board up until it becomes a success. Take a look at the number of posts each of the sevan days following my "Unwritten Rules of Wage Slavery" post (Jan 31. 2000) compared to the number of post each of the seven days before the posting of that post. The board traffic doubled with that post, and it never returned to where it was before the post went up.

I had eight posts of the day in the year when the board was being built up. I don't believe that intercst had any. I have 10 on-topic posts among the 75 most popular posts of all time. Intercst has one.

He sent the e-mail to Motley Fool asking that the board be set up. Big deal. I did the work making it a success. Not just me. There were lots of others. Ptsurmer, wanderer, 1HappyFool, dory36, TheBadger, arrete lots of people. Each of those people owns a share of ownership in that board, according to me and according to Motley Fool. It is not an asset owed by one person, with the right to care for it or trash it as he wishes.

So long as intercst was willing to take reasonable care of the board that I helped build, I was happy for him to have the Board General position. But it is not his plaything to destroy. I built it for a purpose, and the purpose was not to open up another place for people to discuss the war and television shows. Either he allows it to be used for the purpose for which I built it up, or I take it away from him and I see that it is cared for properly. That's the proposition that I have put on the table.

Do you have any basis for the idea that a 'Speaker', who has founded and who is an active member of a 'Speaker's Corner' board, can be replaced as 'Board General' against his will by someone else in a hostile takeover on the basis of a simple majority of votes in a poll.

Here is the response that I received from TMFBogey when I asked whether a Board General is permitted to limit the debate agenda of a Speaker's Corner board.

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=17422024

He states clearly that no one board member, even the founder, can tell others what they can post. So intercst is acting beyond his rights to block discussions of the realities of SWRs. He must follow the TMF posting rules just like all the rest of us. That means posting in "good faith." That rules out deliberate deception.

The hard part is attaining enforcement of the rules against a Board General. TMFBogey is saying that he is concerned that enforcement might upset the balance of a board. But it's hard to see how there could be any concern about upsetting the balance of a board if the poster not following the rules is in the minority rather than the majority.

Tell me if you think I am wrong, BenSolar. I don't want to waste my time if I am heading down a blind alley. But what I hear in those words of TMFBogey is a concern that the majority not be too upset by a rule enforcement decision. If I win a poll, that means that I am in the majority. If I am in the majority, that means that I can ask that the rules be enforced against a poster in the minority.

If the rules are enforced against intercst, who do you think is going to be given the power to update the FAQ? If the board wants someone else, that's OK with me, so long as the someone else permits honest and informed posting on on-topic matters. But I think the most obvious choice to fill the slot is me. If the board community thinks it is a good idea, I will do the best job I am able to unite the board, to lessen the friction, and to turn the board's attention to the subject matter it was formed to address itself to.

And who do you really think is going to complain if it comes to that? The reality is that that is pretty much what most of the board wants right now. The board has been trying in little ways to send him that message for a long time now. He just refuses to listen. Is that my fault?


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BenSolar
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hocus wrote:
But ousting intercst from the board he founded?

Don't go sentimental on me, OK?


No worries on that account. Wink
Quote:
How do you feel about him ousting me and wanderer from the board we made a success, BenSolar?


I think it sucks.
Quote:
He must follow the TMF posting rules just like all the rest of us. That means posting in "good faith." That rules out deliberate deception.

The hard part is attaining enforcement of the rules against a Board General. TMFBogey is saying that he is concerned that enforcement might upset the balance of a board. But it's hard to see how there could be any concern about upsetting the balance of a board if the poster not following the rules is in the minority rather than the majority. ...
If I win a poll, that means that I am in the majority. If I am in the majority, that means that I can ask that the rules be enforced against a poster in the minority.


This is a fine idea, I think. I think using the approach JWR1945 and I have suggested is more likely to get people on your side than the approach you've taken. Work to generate a majority on specific issues, and then work for change on those issues.
Quote:
If the rules are enforced against intercst, who do you think is going to be given the power to update the FAQ? If the board wants someone else, that's OK with me, so long as the someone else permits honest and informed posting on on-topic matters. But I think the most obvious choice to fill the slot is me.


I'm sorry to say this hocus, but I'm afraid your reputation has been so sullied that there is no way that the majority over there would accept you as a formal 'board leader' any time in the forseeable future. Maybe after a year or two of rehabilitative efforts, but now, politically, on that board, you have no chance. Sorry to be blunt. The first thing you could do to start rehabilitating your image would be to drop the whole 'despose intercst - I'm the next Board General' theme.

Try to coordinate with JWR and Galagan an organized effort to point out the deceptions/misdirections, to generate on-topic discussion. Organize and execute a campaign to correct the FAQ. Don't give up. But as of now, the whole Board General thing is pretty much laughable. These are just my opinions, and I hate to say them to you, but I think I should tell you how I perceive things. A coup d'etat doesn't seem feasible to me, but working for change does.

Regards,
Ben



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hocus
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think using the approach JWR1945 and I have suggested is more likely to get people on your side than the approach you've taken.

It sounds to me like the approach you are describing is a Phase One approach--trying to persuade through reason. My view is that giving that approach 10 months to work was enough. I've moved past that.

If reason does not work, it seems to me that the problem is one of power. Those in power do not intend to permit reason to work its magic. If that's the way it is, that's the way it is.

So, for me, this is now about power, not reason. That's where I am coming from. I intend to employ the power I gain to allow reason to prevail at some future date. But I think you have to do things in the right order. First you have to demonstrate that people wanting to use reason have the power to make it happen, then reason can play a positive role.

Work to generate a majority on specific issues, and then work for change on those issues.

By all means, you should try this if you think it will do some good. I do not.

Learning works in building-block fashion. You develop confidence in an information bit, and then you build on it, and you learn something greater and then something even greater.

The most fundamental point on SWRs that needs to be understood at that board is that the intercst study gives the wrong number. That number has been drilled into people's consciousness with four years of repetition, and the only way forward is to start with a consensus that the study provides the wrong number.

You may be able to get away with making little points on the edges, but once you start to make the point that the study gives the wrong number, you are going to have to deal with all the same stuff I have dealt with. I don't see how you avoid it.

I certainly will be rooting for your success, however. I would like to be proven wrong on this.

I'm sorry to say this hocus, but I'm afraid your reputation has been so sullied that there is no way that the majority over there would accept you as a formal 'board leader' any time in the forseeable future. Maybe after a year or two of rehabilitative efforts, but now, politically, on that board, you have no chance. Sorry to be blunt. The first thing you could do to start rehabilitating your image would be to drop the whole 'despose intercst - I'm the next Board General' theme.

There's nothing to be sorry about. You are just stating the facts. But do you not see that an important purpose of what you call the "despose intercst strategy" is to restore my reputation on the board? That's not the only reason for doing it, by a long shot, but's it's a darn important one in the eyes of yours truly.

It is the winners of wars who write the history books that tell what the wars were about, BenSolar. How do you think this dispute is going to be described when I take over as Board General?

I'm not saying that I am going to slant anything. All I need to do to come out smelling like a rose is to tell it just the way it happened. But you can bet that that's the way I am going to tell it. I am not going to tell it the way that intercst likes to tell it, OK?

And I have the Post Archives to back me up. If anyone ever has a question as to what happened, it''s all there in the Post Archives. It's not as if I need to bring uncooperative witnesses to the stand and extract confessions from them.

But as of now, the whole Board General thing is pretty much laughable. These are just my opinions, and I hate to say them to you, but I think I should tell you how I perceive things.

I appreciate you talking staight, BenSolar. Believe me, I do. The bottom line is that either I come up with the votes or not. The rest is hot air.

If I fail to have control of the board by the end of 2004, I'll come to this board and say you were right and buy you a steak dinner. If I am in a position to be able to fly out to where you are to have it with you, I will. Otherwise, you can have it with a friend, and send the bill to me.

If I have control of the board by the end of 2004, I will come to the board and remind you that you said it was impossible and ask that you join me in a steak dinner to celebrate with me my ability to do the impossible.

If you decide to jump on the train to the future of the Retire Early movement at some point, please know that you will always be welcome. The train is going to be making some interesting stops, I assure you. It's going to be an adventure. Proceeding to go about doing the impossible always is!

Onward, troops!

I mean, troop.

I mean, well...you know.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i usually don't comment on this topic and i'm not even really sure where i come down on it, to tell you the truth.

this seems to hinge on hocus' assertion that TMF brings eyeballs to the table. and that the site is very well designed - conducive to community building. these would seem worthwhile fighting over.

still, there doesn't seem to be any there there (at the rehp). i mean, how many times can you explain to telegraph that appreciation is not the only return from residential real estate?

and currently, one of their most highly respected posters argumentation arsenal is peppered with "dumber than a [insert some sort of soft sided container] of hammers" or insinuating that one is not male and is cohabiting with hocus. (and i thought his, "i think you need to buy a vowel" riposte was incomprehensible. who knew?). Wink

i find it all "creepy". Wink



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wanderer wrote:
i mean, how many times can you explain to telegraph that appreciation is not the only return from residential real estate?

LaughingVery HappyLaughingRolling Eyes

B.



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bensolar -

you think i'm kidding. iirc, post #612, by FMO, was where he first started addressing TheGreatDoorstop's propagation of that myth. The first of many "debunkings" in his illustrious future (TGD's, not FMO's, that is Wink).



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hocus
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There doesn't seem to be any "there" there (at the rehp)

There's a "there" there, Wanderer. It is buried. It is unable to speak. Much of the "there" has temporarily left the REHP board for obvious reasons but is perfectly willing to come back when prevailing conditions change.

There have always been two wings to the board, going back to the first days. For ease of discussion, let's call Wing One the Intercst/Galeno wing, and Wing Two the hocus/wanderer wing.

Do you remember the post you put up in which you noted what a fantastic resource the board was, how you were telling your friends about it and copying old posts and such? You noted how the board covered a wealth of seemingly unrelated topics and how the "network" was the true magic in the machine.

What made it special was the play between the two wings. Either one by itself would have been boring. It was the combination of the so-called hard and soft sides that produced fireworks (the good kind).

Now. Intercst became concerned about two things. One, his vision was failing. Stocks were not doing what they were "supposed" to do. Two, the board had grown bigger than he had expected going into the thing. In the beginning, he wanted hocus and wanderer on board because they helped him get his board on the map. Now, they were garnering more attention than he was, and that wasn't part of the plan.

So you saw a series of mini-smears, little efforts to drive posters from the soft side off of the board. There was an effort to destroy the multiplicity of views, and put up a sign "Only INTJs Allowed." Only accordian-playing INTJs. Whatever.

This was a deliberate effort to weaken the board. Because the board needed to be weakened for intercst to again feel secure. It's what you see a bad corporate executive do. He fires anyone good because he doesn't want someone else's good performance making him look bad in comparison. He encouraged weak posters and attacked strong ones.

My reaction was to go on a posting "hiatus." I didn't want to take on intercst because I knew the way he played the game. I was hoping that the mythical "someone else" would do it. Everyone else was looking to Mr. Someone Else too.

You were the one who stepped forward. You were the first one ever to tell the truth about the elephant in the living room. I sort of wish it had been me, now that I am where I am. But it wasn't me. It was you.

I was surprised at how few stood up to defend you (I wasn't there in real time, I saw the posts only a week or so later). That told me that I had miscalculated. While I was waiting for Someone Else to come along and do the dirty work, the board was losing all its best people. Things were in a downward spiral.

My idea of a Hail Mary pass was to bring the question of the realities of SWRs to the table. "That should get some on-topic discussion going!" I thought. And was I ever right. The shock treatment worked. There was huge support for The Great Debate in the early days. I had two 80-plus rec posts virtually back to back. The board had been brought back to life.

This is when intercst played The Big Card. He went public with a declaration that the "board culture" there demands "ridicule" of anyone posting ideas on SWRs not in concert with his own ("loony ideas" was the phrase he used). Telegraph got the message. Galeno got the message. Hyperborea got the message. Prometheuss got the message.

He played the card too soon. I think that I had the Bernstein quote in hand at the time, but I hadn't worked through the implications. I knew I was right, but I didn't know how right. I certainly did not have access to the research that was done at this board subsequently, by raddr. My argument was still a little sketchy at the time.

He thought he would shut it down by playing that card. But new information kept coming out, and that kept adding new fuel. Finally, Galeno came out with the threat of physical violence, and that iced it. It was an act of complete desperation. Anyone could see then that they no longer had any confidence in their arguments.

And anyone who understands board psychology knows that that opened a wound that can't be healed without coming to terms with what caused it. You have to go back there and figure out why it happened to put it finally to rest, and that's not good news for Team Interest.

From that point forward it was just playing cards. It can only turn out one way. It's mathematics, and you can't deny mathematics. It has an inevitable quality about it. Even if I went away, I think it would end the same way. But I don't see any reason not to participate in the effort to get it where it needs to be a little sooner.

There is a "there" there. Some of the "there" has left the board, but will be happy to come back. Some of the "there" is keeping quiet, trying not to make waves. Some of the "there" just doesn't understand SWRs well enough to risk taking a stand, given the way that those who ask "stupid" questions are dealt with.

The board is worth saving, in my opinion. That is the practical question you are asking. I believe that it can be a great resource in days to come.

I think it is a waste of time today. I'm sort of like ariechert for the time-being, I only read posts that mention my name. I don't see that anything else going on there is worth my time. But I don't see that as a permanent condition. I think that can be changed quickly.

I am serious when I say that it is not possible to talk on-topic there today. The intercst wing ideas have failed. All know this, whether they acknolwedge it or not. His scheme didn't do what it was supposed to do--provide safety. What they are saying now is "let's just forget about SWRS," but where does that get you? The whole idea of the study was to give you the fortitude to stick with stocks in the down times because you knew that the 4 percent would ultimately work. But now you don't have confidence in that anymore. So you end up selling at the bottom. The worst possible thing to do.

The one wing has failed and the other wing has been silenced. But we have demonstrated the great desire for a board addressing this subject matter. We need a way to make the transition from the old dogmas to some new possibilities.

The SWR discussiobn, had it been permitted to take place, would have done this. People would have stayed largely with stocks, but they would have added some realism to the mix. We would have gotten to the place where we needed to go.

Intercst saw the writing on the wall, he saw where the conversation was headed. That was why he needed to put a stop to it. He does not want a board to succeed, he wants his board to succeed. In his mind, it is all about him. If he is not at the center, he would rather tear the whole thing to the ground.

I am saying no to that. I am saying that the community as a whole owns the place. I may end up being the person who speaks for the community as a whole, but I will be acting on the community's behalf when I am board general, not my own.

Anyway, I think the board is worth saving. I think it has amazing potential. It is a waste of time today, as you note. But if those interested in speaking about the subject matter gain the power to speak, that can change. When it changes, we will have in our Post Archives a powerful lesson in how not to run an internet discussion board.

The internet discussion board medium is a new one. We are only now learning the rules. We are inventing the rules as we go. That board tells both stories, how to do it exactly right and how to do it exactly wrong. I think that the Post Archives of that board are an asset worth preverving and worth building on. There is a lot of history in those Post Archives, a lot of valuable lessons. We own them. So we should take them back from those who have attempted to steal them from us.

Yes, it's only a discussion board. But handle things right, and that is not necessarily such an insignificant thing.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wanderer wrote:
you think i'm kidding. iirc, post #612, by FMO, was where he first started addressing TheGreatDoorstop's propagation of that myth. The first of many "debunkings" in his illustrious future (TGD's, not FMO's, that is Wink).


Hilarious! I was laughing because in the short time I've been watching the board, I've seen it maybe 10 different times already. Here's a nice quote from FMO in the post 612 from Oct. 1999 which you referenced:
FMO wrote:
By throwing out these nonsensical comparisons, are you being you are purposely obtuse or do you really not understand real estate?


LaughingVery HappyLaughing

I vote for "purposefully obtuse".

Ben



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hocus wrote:
If you decide to jump on the train to the future of the Retire Early movement at some point, please know that you will always be welcome. The train is going to be making some interesting stops, I assure you. It's going to be an adventure. Proceeding to go about doing the impossible always is!


I'm on board. The whole concept of FIRE has captured my attention, and I don't see it letting go. I know you have the best intentions, hocus. Sometimes I don't agree with the way you go about things, but so what? You certainly have an ability to stir stuff up.

I owe you for your making me think in depth about the impact of valuations on long term stock returns. I had bought into the "11% returns on average " malarky before that. Thank you, sir Very Happy
Quote:
Onward, troops!

I mean, troop.

I mean, well...you know.


LaughingLaughingLaughing

Good luck, hocus.
Ben



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hocus
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 12:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You certainly have an ability to stir stuff up.

That's the journalist in me, BenSolar. Some people think of the word "controversy" as a shorthand way of saying "better duck, there's trouble up ahead!." I think of it as a shorthand way of saying "hey, it looks like we're going to be able to sell some newspapers tomorrow morning!"

I owe you for your making me think in depth about the impact of valuations on long term stock returns. I had bought into the "11% returns on average " malarky before that. Thank you, sir

It's kind of you to say that. Maybe I can have you do the blurb on the back cover of my book in the event that intercst turns me down.

On a related note, this guy

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18952152

sounds like he is ripe for one of them famous Wanderer e-mail invitations to come talk about FIRE with some people who actually know what they are talking about.

It's my guess that the following response from intercst might not have quelled all his concerns.

http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=18952261

I think it's fair to say that the secret meaning of those words is "I've got the votes, and, until that changes, ain't nothing gonna change much around this place."


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BenSolar wrote:
wanderer wrote:
you think i'm kidding. iirc, post #612, by FMO, was where he first started addressing TheGreatDoorstop's propagation of that myth. The first of many "debunkings" in his illustrious future (TGD's, not FMO's, that is Wink).


Hilarious! I was laughing because in the short time I've been watching the board, I've seen it maybe 10 different times already. Here's a nice quote from FMO in the post 612 from Oct. 1999 which you referenced:
FMO wrote:
By throwing out these nonsensical comparisons, are you being you are purposely obtuse or do you really not understand real estate?


LaughingVery HappyLaughing



Ben


Ah, those were the good old days. Seems a lot like the the bad new days.



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My question. Please do not answer.

Consider the illustration in posts just before this.

When you see someone repeat the identical assertion in spite of its being shown to be false each and every time, what words do you use to describe that behavior?

There is merit in pointing out the error each and every time. Casual viewers will begin to get the message.

There seems to be a problem if you describe the behavior as intentional.

Have fun.

John R.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm on board. The whole concept of FIRE has captured my attention, and I don't see it letting go. I know you have the best intentions, hocus. Sometimes I don't agree with the way you go about things, but so what? You certainly have an ability to stir stuff up.

I don't think it's necessary to agree. i certainly don't agree with everything hocus says or how he says it.

still, note the number of views and length of threads. here and at the re*p. pre-hocus, the re*p board was realtively quiet - big slowdown due to imposition of the fee, etc. iirc.

the threads hocus started were 200 posts long. Shockedi used to get an error message as my 'puter tried to digest the whole threads. between the length, i mean quality, of hocus' posts and the number of heated, Nixon-Administration like denials, it's a wonder my 'puter didn't seize up. Wink

anyway, unheard of before then. and they served to propel the number of posts to 100,000+. granted, 80%(?) of them were from 10-15 people (something which "bothers" gurdison about this place Wink).

besides, hocus did sell 5X as many soapbox reports as the chap who founded the "that other site". Wink



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, those were the good old days. Seems a lot like the the bad new days.

Seems like Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. Shocked



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My question. Please do not answer. ...

When you see someone repeat the identical assertion in spite of its being shown to be false each and every time, what words do you use to describe that behavior?

TheGreatFornicator? LOL. (Sorry for answering JWR. Wink)



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have always been two wings to the board, going back to the first days. For ease of discussion, let's call Wing One the Intercst/Galeno wing, and Wing Two the hocus/wanderer wing.

oh dear! now makessensewayless will suggest that we are "an item"! ShockedWink



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the response Ben. I was just curious why CK would say something like that. Since the town center board is for discussing any subject and therefore an open forum, I would hope any objectionable material to any one member could just be ignored and they could move on. From what I can tell there have been no blatant rules violations here. CK has a right to do what she likes. I'll miss CK.

I'll miss her, too. I believe she brings value to this community. I'll let you know when I see any significant posts from her elsewhere.



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wanderer

The field has eyes / the wood has ears / I will see / be silent and hear
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hocus
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Joined: 02 Dec 2002
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2003 4:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll miss her, too. I believe she brings value to this community. I'll let you know when I see any significant posts from her elsewhere.

It seems to have become my role in this to be the one who discusses elephants in the living room, things that just about everyone has noticed and is wondering about but that absolutely no one wants to mention in public.

The riddle of the ChocoKitty statement is not, Do we want to have her as a poster or not? Of course we do. Why would we not? And we want Arrete and workwayless and GolfWayMore and SeattlePioneer and lots of others that currently post at the other board. None of those would feel comfortable posting here because of things that have been said here re the intercst mess. The only difference with Choco is that she was frank enough to say it out loud. Bully for her, is my view.

Now, what we need to come to terms with is, Why would someone like ChocoKitty or any of the others not want to post here just because we permit an airing of views re flaws we have discovered in a study dealing with early retirement?

Does anyone think that she would have a problem if the study had been prepared by William Bernstein? Obviously not. If that were the case, she might agree with me or she might take issue with what I say. But she would not boycott the board because someone put up a post questioning the findings of a study. We need to ask ourselves, What is it that is different about this case that causes people to relate to it in such emotionally explosive ways?

There are two things that are different.

One, the study author is not a distant expert, but someone the posters at issue have conversed with on a daily basis for a long time. No one who knows intercst only from the board really knows him, but many feel that they sort of know him. They say that they think of him as a "hero," but what I think they are really trying to convey is that they think of him as a "friend." People don't mind seeing experts criticized for their mistakes, but they don't like to see this happen to their friends. This is a big factor in what is going on.

There are many implications to this insight. One critical question is--Is the purpose of a Discussion Board to help people find information on a subject matter or is it to help people make new friends? Motley Fool used to think that the answer was to find information. The TMF posting rules were written with the thought of helping people use the boards to learn. Read the "Learning Together" link at the bottom right-hand corner of each page. It is as clear as clear can be that that used to be the purpose.

I don't think that Motley Fool sees that as the purpose anymore. Their advertising slogan when they started charging for the boards was "We've Got Your Friends!" I believe that they have market research showing that they can make more money promoting the boards as a social interaction tool (like CB radio) than as an information source (like newspapers). There is less concern with accuracy when the purpose is social rather than learning enhancement. Thus, you see less of a desire to enforce the published rules than there once was.

I need to deal with this issue as part of my campaign to become board general. I doubt that I can make Motley Fool change its mind. But I don't get the sense that Motley Fool wants to give up entirely the argument that the boards can be used as a learning tool. I think they are looking for a middle ground. This is why I have proposed that intercst set up a separate board that would be described up front as primarily a social board rather than an information resource. Then both groups would get what they want, and the friction would be resolved.

Anyway, I think we need to address this question of "Should a discussion board be for learning or for social interaction or for some sort of mix?" To know what rules should apply (and this goes for this board too, obviously), you need to be clear on the purpose of the project. If you want pure social, you go a different way than if you want pure learning or 50-50. This is an issue that has not been discussed much, but is going to need to be discussed a lot before the SWR matter is resolved, in my view. This is a late-Phase Two issue.

The other elephant that no one wants to talk about is the moral violation. If we discovered a mistake in a study by William Bernstein, it would not be such a big deal because we all know that he would correct the mistake as soon as it was brought to his attention. That's not what has happened here. Intercst has flat-out denied the mistake and thereby compounded it.

This is a terribly serious matter. There are people on that board who believe that the study is at least somewhat valid. There are people there who constructed their retirement plans in part on reliance on it. Consider the situation in which they have placed themselves. Say that the worst happens, and stocks go down even more, down to a point where these people feel tempted to move some of their assets out of stocks. What do they do?

The whole point of the study was that it provided them the fortitude to hang on with stocks through the bad times and make it up on the other side when prices went up again. The study says that, unless the future is worse than the past, you can be certain that prices will eventually go up enough for your 4 percent withdrawal to work. William Bernstein is saying that as a matter of "mathematical certitude" that is not so. He is saying that, if the future turns out exactly like the past, you cannot be reasonable certain that a retirement plan based on a 4 percent withdrawal will survive.

So those people thinking of pulling assets out at the bottom will not be able to place any reasonable confidence in the study at the very moment when they most need to be able to have trust in it. Some of them will take assets out at the bottom. They will suffer serious financial losses as a result, if the future ends up being like the past. This will all be intercst's fault for engaging in deliberate deception as to what the data says about safe withdrawal rates.

This is not an insignificant matter, this is not off-topic. This is deadly serious for anyone concerned about the future of the Retire Early movement. People on that board have been deceived, not by accident, but as part of a deliberate campaign to protect the study from fair scrutiny.

As a board community, we need to be thinking about where we want to position ourselves for the possibility that things may play out badly. It is not certain that people will lose large sums of money because of a misplaced trust in the intercst study. It is possible that they will all get lucky, and end up just fine. But it is entirely possible that there will be big losses that would not have occured had people known the truth about how SWRs work. If the future turns out like the past, it could happen. We need to reflect on that, and prepare in advance for the possibility.

I think that most people on the other board would like to hear both sides of the question. I have a file of all those posts where posters came forward and said "this is the best on-topic debate we have had here in months, hocus, thanks so much for bringing this to the table!" I don't think all of those people were lying. I think they were being sincere. I think they want to hear both sides.

Their problem is that they are now in a position where, to ask that the debate proceed, is to call intercst a liar. Intercst has stated in the most emphatic terms possible that there is no issue, that anyone who thinks that valuation levels might affect SWRs is "loony." To say that you want to hear both sides is to say that he is wrong about that. In essence, when you do that, you are calling him a liar.

People there do not want to do that. It is hard to go from calling somebody a "hero" one day to calling him a "liar" the next. People there are in a pickle. This is why you saw people who gave recs to my "Coin Toss" post coming back to the board months later and saying "I wish now that I could take that rec back." It's not that they found anything wrong with the post. They still think the insights in the post are valid. But at the time they recced the post they didn't mean for that act to be interpreted as calling intercst a liar. He had not taken such an extreme position at the time. Now they want to be disassociated from what they did before because they do not want to be on the record calling him a liar.

This goes to BenSolar's point that my reputation there has been sullied. It has been sullied because the board has been morally compromised. The intercst position is so extreme that the act of acknowledging that William Bernstein may know what he is talking about when he says that valuation levels affect SWRs as a matter of "mathematical certainty" is equivalent to calling their "hero" a "liar."

The root problem here is not that people do not have the information they need to make a rational assessment of the question. The problem is an emotional one. People do not want to take intercst out of the "hero" category and place him instead in the "liar" category.

Wanderer made a comparison to Watergate. I think that is a good comparison. When Watergate started, there were a lot of people who said things similar to what BenSolar is saying today, that it was "laughable" to think that such a small matter could ever cause the removal of a president from office. But it did. It went that way because the president involved lied about what happened, and there ultimately was no way to resolve the matter other than through removal. One day, he was winning an election with a huge majority, a little while later he couldn't get members of his own party to speak in his defense.

There will come a day, sometime before the end of 2004 I believe, when there will be no one in intercst's "party" still willing to defend him. If you read the posts closely, you can already see signs of erosion of confidence. Long-time supporters are trying in substle ways to disasscoiate themselves from him. That post from Promethuss that I frequently refer to is the most outstanding example. Prometheuss says that he will "denounce" intercst if he makes any of four claims that he in fact makes on a regular basis. There will come a time when Prometheuss will point to that post as evidence that he could tell all along that there was something not right about the intercst claims but he just couldn't figure out exactly what.

Others are doing similar things, in less dramatic fashion. Telegraph acknowledged in a post that he agrees that valuation may affect SWRs. It was a buried reference, and he didn't drop his "defense" of intercst but he has gone on record saying that he believes that intercst is wrong about the primary matter in dispute. Arrete has said that she thinks that intercst behaves "like an idiot." She will use that phrase at some future time to defend her defenses of him, saying that she could tell that things didn't quite add up but she wasn't sure exactly why at the time.

My point here is that you have to give this thing time to play out. You can't count votes today and presume that is where the votes will always be. The REHP board is being asked to do a hard thing, reject someone it has long viewed as a "hero." If what I am saying is true, that individual deliberately worked a con on them. He told them things that were not true, putting their retirements at risk, for the purpose of serving his own ego gratification. This is not a pretty picture. People don't want to acknowledge to themselves that what I say has happened here really has happened.

My ace card is the fact that it really did happen. There is no "he said, she said" about it, it's all in the Post Archives. And it has to come out. The retirements don't necessarily have to fail, that appears to be about a 50-50 proposition. But mathematics is mathematics and people in the future who study SWRs are going to take the mathematical certainties quoted by Bernstein into consideration. They are not going to care a whit about whether doing so happens to hurt Intercst's feelings or not.

We are creating post archives too. I see this as an opportunity for this board to gain the benefits that will likely follow from coming down strongly on the right side of the debate at a relatively early stage in its progression. The Washington Post went big time by exposing the Watergate fraud. This board has the potential to go big time, in my view, by being the primary force responsible for exposing the intercst SWR fraud.

I see it as an opportunity. I do not take delight in pursuing it because of all the friction it causes. But my concern is less with the people who are struggling with their consciences and so far winning the battle than with the people who have a sincere desire to learn about how to retire early who are being denied the right to use that board as a tool for doing so. I think that, as time goes on, more and more of the ChocoKittys of the world are going to see that the people pursuing this are doing it not out of an sense of personal malice but because it is the only thing that anyone with a serious concern for the future of the Retire Early movement can possibly do, given the circumstances they face.


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