No one Knows Anything

It’s actually true. When an “expert” says something, we take it at face value. We never question it and keep propagating those views. Without even pausing to consider if it’s really true or not. Our emotions and biases seem to have a greater effect on if we accept that viewpoint or not.

Irrespective of whether we accept the viewpoint or not, we just assume that the author knows what s/he is talking about. We don’t even pause before considering it as ground truth.

In 2005, I bought a home. I really didn’t need to. But everyone around me and the pundits at that time convinced me that the price of a house always goes up, obviously. Then 2008 happened. I ended up loosing 50K on my home. I went back and checked what those pundits were saying now and obviously, they had the perfect reason for the 2008 financial crisis. (Their reasons surfaced only after 2008 though)

More recently in early 2021, a friend was begging me to invest in bitcoin. the price was around $50K. (I didn’t invest). He was convinced, as he follows all the bitcoin gurus, that the price would hit $100K soon. As of today, bitcoin is < $20K.

July 2021 tech stocks were on a tear. Try looking at them now (Dec 22)

I don’t think there is a living soul who anticipated COVID and the monumental shifts in every facet of life that it has caused. Work from home is now the norm, until it will not be.

We live in an uncertain world. We always seem to forget that.

One of the reasons for this is that we mix up Facts and Opinions. A fact is a truth statement. “The Sun rises in the East”, “The Earth revolves around the Sun” etc…these are facts. Facts are relatively easy to discern. Everything else is an opinion. Loosely held by some, strongly held by others. But…it’s still an opinion.

“Investing in a home right now is a great idea” is an opinion, probably of a realtor. “Buy this stock, sell that stock” is also an opinion, probably from a day trader. The future is going to be like this or that is also an opinion, probably from a VC. They are all OPINIONS. They think they know, but that does not mean that they know or that it is even remotely true.

The point that I’m trying to make is that, have a healthy amount of skepticism for everything. Be comfortable in an ever changing world. Be conservative in your finances and judgements. This does not mean to use this as an excuse to do absolutely nothing. On the contrary. Be aware of the world around you and that you can predict the future as bad as the “expert” you are listening to. Make locally optimal decisions based on your current understanding of your environment knowing that you may have to change these down the line.

Just by having that thread running in your mind, in the background, about uncertainty, unpredictability and non-determinism, helps you be grounded and act in a more rational way.

No one really knows anything for sure.