Today I made a Delphic prediction when asked: "should be opportunities on port and starboard. But best not to talk to me unless in response to a query or order while I'm on quarterdeck with enemy in site".

This is the kind of thing that kept Delphi in business for a few thousand years. Completely unfalsifiable. Also, it keeps the range bound boys in business, and the wave and Gann boys in business also, as well as the media when they say something resembling a forecast that isn't a quote from someone with a position.

It also occurs to me that this is the kind of prediction that confirms in your enemy's mind that one is a horse's ass and in your friends minds, they thank you profusely for your wisdom.

Jeff Watson writes: 

It occurs to me one could make an excellent living as a financial reporter, financial guru, predictor, prognosticator by learning how to "Cold Read". Applying these methods should impress the general public with one's financial acumen, prescience, and ability to make money. Truly masterful technique allows one to blame the public for their failure when things don't turn out as described.

The best cold readers don't say anything of meaning, and just allow the victim to internalize and believe what they already thought. Cold reading is usually done by fortune tellers, mentalists, con men, and other charlatans seeking to remove money from the wallets of their victims. Here's a good twelve step method on how to learn cold reading. With a little modification of these techniques and an audience, you'll be on your way to richness, and everyone will think you are a genius…..

Remember Chaunce the Gardner, Jerzy Kosinski's creation in Being There, had the highest levels of society fooled and he wasn't even a cold reader… he was just an example that demonstrated that "People will believe whatever they want to believe as long it is an affirmation of their belief system.





Speak your mind

3 Comments so far

  1. Phil McNuttally on January 25, 2011 11:07 pm

    There is something in even the most reasonable in our reason-able technicity that loves prediction, catastrophe and tragedy. I think this says something about us human becomings.

    I remember when I was in the business of making Delphic predictions. The one thing that always bothered me was when people made half-assed predictions. They were so scared of being seen as a fool. Stink of a preservationist? Forgetting that oneself is in the hubris business? (After all, the great oracles were always hubristic in their predictions of accuracy… they always went out on the limb. )

    I always made it my business to make myself look like a fool by actually making a prediction. So the best predictors are always those teetering on the despondent walls of Foolsville. (A place where the real estate DIDN’T crash… because no one has a home to begin with.)

    I’ve attached an example of what any prophesier worth their grain of salt despises the most… the “half-assed” prediction:

    ” Uuuh, there is a good chance this Head n’ Shoulders pattern will break, but I can also see a classic Knees n’ Toes pattern here. So uhhhh, will probably go down, but there is also a good chance it will go up. It’s hard to tell. Normally it would be easy to at least identify the sector strength of this stock, but, my propriatary SJS “Super Juicy Sector” indicator is getting a lot of chop.

    Regarding the movie Being There: that looks like an neat movie. I like weird movies and even more… weird people.

    That’s one of my favorite things about old people; yes, their skin sags, their eye sight fades, their mind faulters….

    But their interesting is much more about fishing. It’s deep. Not surface, not superficial. Plus, they usually know old movies, songs and the way a city or a road used to look.

    Their experiences… facts, beliefs, what-have’s … and what-not’s… are often thrown togther in a terrific stew in the cauldron of their head.

  2. vic on January 26, 2011 11:54 am

    Very sapient, Mr. McNuttaly. The most salient thing about humans is that they are all different. See Williams on this point. If yu try to get to know someone, you’ll always be amazed at the intricacy of their tastes, knowledge, and knowhows in their specialized fields and hobbies. I can listen on the train or bus to the common man, and learn lessons of great value . This is one of the reasons that Hayek’s point about the Fatal Conceit is so resonant.

  3. Phil McNuttally on January 28, 2011 7:13 pm

    Hi Mr. Niederhoffer,

    Thank you for the advice. I like your site and value the posts here.

    Just so you know, I was not trying to show any hubris in what I posted, but rather… if someone is in the prediction business (not the trading business) why not do this?

    Maybe I am wrong, but, I think those who do well in the markets think most market commentary is pretty much a waste of time.

    We have all these shows, letters, sites dedicated to market commentary and who knows who is right and who to listen to.

    They always say “Give us a prediction!” when someone is on T.V.

    For some reason, we all want a prediction, we all want to think someone can do this. Why? I don’t know. We don’t like the reasonable truth, which is… ” No one can do that” ….that we know of.

    You and the fellas on your site know what trading really is — making money is not about predictions. And hubris and trading certainly don’t mix.

    As far as your other advice, yes… I like to think I know this, reasonably. But emotionally it is sometimes hard to catch up with what I know. It can be hard to pry them apart…. even when I think I see between them.


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