Apr

21

 Thank you very much for the great Spec gathering. It was very good seeing old and new faces, and always good to see you.

Below is a submission for the DailySpec if you deem it worthy. It's a very good example of the benevolent influence you talked about to the group:

The highlight of touring the orchid exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden was the commentary of friend and mentor Victor Niederhoffer. At one point he made a wry comment about one of the exhibits, which described how plants were used in folk medicine. He opined that Ayn Rand wouldn't have liked the exhibit, as it glorified practices that were filled with mysticism, subjectivity, and overall mumbo-jumbo.

My reflection, however, was that Ms. Rand–in epistemological benevolence–would have distinguished between pre-science and anti-science. The ancient astronomers lacked the tools of their modern counterparts and yet attempted to ground their work in the observable and measurable. Anti-scientific mystics, on the other hand, posit realities that by their very nature are non-measurable and unverifiable.

Earlier in our tour, Vic had mentioned the early technical analysts, who hand-posted charts and used compasses and protractors to measure angles and trends. Much of this was pre-scientific work, not necessarily anti-science. Lacking computers and algorithms, the early pioneers of market analysis resorted to the tools and techniques available during their era. That many of their conclusions did not stand the test of time does not alter the fact that they were engaged in efforts at objective observation and measurement.

This is quite different from astrological and numerological theories of market behavior that were so imprecise–and so able to cover all possible circumstances–that they could not possibly add to scientific understanding.

There are "moneyball" opportunities in the pre-scientific observations and measurements of dedicated traders who make sincere efforts to "count". One can find their work in the better blogs and tweets across the web. Such work is fertile ground for promising hypotheses, even as it must face the rigors of scientific scrutiny to be accepted as conclusions.

Technical analysis is the folk medicine of financial markets. The rational folk doctors of past eras found plants that truly had healing power. Indeed, 30% of all current prescription drugs come from such plants, according to the NYBG exhibit. Some of today's market folk doctors–those truly devoted to observation and measurement–may find equivalent remedies for ailing speculators seeking market truths.

P.S. I have spent the better part of this morning quantifying a blog's informal observations about support and resistance and have found interesting patterns worthy of further study. Such is the benevolent influence of a garden walk with the Chair.


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  1. Andrew Goodwin on April 22, 2014 6:13 pm

    I went to the orchid show Sunday with a botanist. What struck me is how the pathways are now ridden with tourists using their cell cams to record the plants. My mission, rather than in inspecting plants, was to get through the congestion as quickly as possible while noting as much as possible.

    Should one have allowance to use cellphones in pulbic gardens in limited walk spaces when one is not allowed on roads of similarly lined access routes?

    The legality of the practice ruined the Highline and the New York Botanical Garden walks for me.

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