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Universities: poisoning the well of knowledge
Having a university degree nowadays doubles your risk of being irredeemably confused.
For full disclosure, I do have a university degree, but I’ve worked hard ever since to recover from it.
In my book, "Mastering Uncertainty in Commodities Trading," the sentence that conveys the key insight I had during my apprenticeship was about discovery that the holy grail of market speculation is within: "this game was not so much about mastering the markets or statistics or even the charts as much as it was about mastering oneself. In speculation, markets are the external reality, but what decides the game's outcome is the inner process that determines one's actions."
Our actions depend on what we understand about that external reality and how we perceive changes. But the problem of how we know things goes beyond the domain of investment speculation - it is central to everything we do in life. The big word for this is epistemology - the "science" of how we know. It is one of the core mysteries of life which, the more we question it, the farther we drift away from the certitudes we embraced in our teenage years.
Defending dogmas, not open debate
This is where one would expect our institutions of higher learning to lead the charge and provide us with the most accurate, best refined understanding of our world. Perhaps they do so on the margins, but in the mainstream, it seems that they ossify around dogmas which then become so entrenched that they are not even allowed to be questioned. Instead of true knowledge, they tend to produce groupthink, which can diverge so far from reality and common sense that at some point it becomes patently absurd.
One of the most stunning examples of this, again, is the idea that men can get pregnant. A recent poll by WPA Intelligence found that as many as 29% of female democrats (with or without college education) believed that the statement, "Some men can get pregnant," was true. But as many as 36% of college educated female democrats believed that some men can get pregnant.
Doubling the risk of stupid
In 2021, 39.1% of women in the U.S. had college education, and if the same is true of female democrats, then 39.1% of those 29% who think men can get pregnant are college educated. That would imply that among non-college educated women democrats "only" 17.7% of women believe that men can get pregnant, vs. 36% for college educated ones. In other words, college education more than doubles democratic women's inclination to believe that some men can get pregnant.
Violence OK to stop free speech
How can that even be? What kind of intellectual environment produces this lunacy? In a recent piece, professor Jonathan Turley sums up this environment, based on a number of surveys of students in US colleges and universities:
About 65% of students fear sharing their opinions in classrooms or on campuses
Some academic deans believe that free speech protections do not apply to offensive or disingenuous speech
Some student publications are explicit that opposing free speech falls within the protection of free speech
66% of students believe it is OK to shout down and silence a speaker to stop them from expressing an unwelcome view
23% of students believe it is OK to use violence to stop free speech
More than half of all university departments don't have a single registered Republican; overall, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 10 to 1
I came to live in the United States from the Communist block in the late 1980s. At that time, the cultural environment upheld free speech as sacrosanct. Suggesting any limitations on free speech would be rejected outright and viewed with great suspicion. Somehow, this has been turned on its head in the intervening decades, and it accelerated under the Obama years.
Today, the institutions of higher learning as well as professional journalists clamor for a clampdown on speech they dislike. This is creating an environment where open discussion falls silent and the process of discovery of knowledge gravitates around the orthodoxies imposed by the dominant political factions, no matter how misguided or destructive they may be.
Extinguishing knowledge, perverting culture and incubating dystopia
In this environment, merely tweeting that "all lives matter" as everyone else screeched, "black lives matter," could cost a college professor his job. This same zealotry equally stifles needed debates on important issues like public health, safety of vaccines, climate, renewable energies, economics, monetary policy and questions of war and peace. But the potential harm from universities goes well beyond merely silencing the heretics and stifling open debate.
In my last post, I highlighted the role of British universities including Cambridge, Oxford, Nottingham, Bath and the Imperial College of London in contributing to destructive developments with their policy paper, “Absolute Zero,” published in November 2019. Not only do they recommend closure of all airports in Britain, phasing out all construction and consumption of red meat, they also make suggestions about how to manipulate the British public to acquiesce to these changes.
Recall, the Imperial College of London and their excellent pandemic predictor Neil Ferguson also produced the massively inflated Covid 19 casualty projections; Oxford University created the extremely flawed AstraZeneca vaccine and the University of East Anglia has been at the forefront of whipping upclimate alarmism by deliberately fudging temperature records. In this sense, institutes of higher learning are not only culpable in distorting the process of knowledge discovery, and the society’s culture with it – they should be held accountable for the destructive policies they recommend or justify.
Getting back to the domain of investment speculation, the above musings also reaffirm why I prefer systematic trend following to fundamentals analysis in investment speculation. Systematic trend following relies entirely on security prices - the one source of information about our external reality that is objectively true, accurate and timely. If the price of something is 100, that's what you pay for it in the markets, and that's what you can sell it for (plus minus bid-offer difference). It's the information we can depend upon.
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Alex Krainer – @NakedHedgie is the creator of I-System Trend Following and publisher of daily TrendCompass reports: daily commentary and trading signals covering over 200 key financial and commodity markets – probably the best trend following daily newsletter on the market today. One month’s test drive is always free of charge with no strings attached! For US investors, we propose an inflation/recession resilient portfolio covering a basket of 30+ financial and commodities markets - your essential defence against the occult oligarchy’s dark monetary arts.