Three Myths

It’s liberating to realize that not everything you heard from parents, teachers, religious leaders and financial gurus is necessarily true. Sometimes, not even close.

Life is mostly opinion and myth.

Here are three myths I’ve come to grips with lately.

Myth 1: Bulls and Bears help you.

If you are going to invest in the stock market, there are two concepts you need to be familiar with – bulls and bears.

Bulls are professional investors who are betting the market will go up. Bears are also professional investors who are betting the market will go down.

More than anything else, bulls and bears are psychologists. Their tools are words. They understand that humans are susceptible to suggestion. Bulls tell people the market will go up. Bears just the opposite. Bulls give you good news, bears feed you bad news. Bulls make money when the market goes up. So they have a vested interest in telling you good news.

Bears on the other hand make money when the market goes down. So they have a vested interest in feeding you bad news.

Bulls and bears are not interested in whether or not YOU make money, they are interested in whether or not THEY make money.

The myth is that bulls and bears should be listened to when investing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only way to make money over the long run is to invest a small amount in the market every month whether or not the market is going up or down. Only invest in mutual funds. Secure a stock broker (preferably a conservative female) who will help you execute this strategy. Every seven to ten years you should double your money.

Myth 2: San Francisco is full of liberals and weirdoes.

Go to the corner of Pine and Fillmore in downtown San Francisco. You will be shocked.

There are 60% women to men. They’re young, educated, attractive and employed by the latest technology firms in biotech, information technology, etc.

The buildings in the area have been purchased by these companies and the young professionals live and work there. Downtown San Francisco is the new Silicon Valley, except you don’t drive to it, you walk to it.

Public transportation is the preferred mode of travel for these young professionals, and it is directed by technology. If they need to travel a couple of miles to the theatre, they use their transportation app (zipcar) to beckon a car that is most often within yards of them. These cars are extremely clean, inexpensive, and accessible. You are charged via the app. No money is exchanged with the driver.

On the other hand if you want to rent a car to carry out some utilitarian task like grocery shopping, or taking rented chairs back after you had a party, you simply pull up your app and order a car that is stationed within yards of where you live. You rent it for as short or long as you need it. No insurance, no maintenance, no repairs are charged, just a car “co- op” card purchased each year for a reasonable cost. Again, financial transactions are executed via the app. You are charged an inexpensive per mile usage.

Of course you can rent a bike on most of the corners. You can take public buses. Or you can walk to all the necessary places: work, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, medical centers, worship services, parks, ocean views, theatre, and store front retail outlets.

Young professional women and technology companies set the pace and create the environment in downtown San Francisco, at least in the territory surrounding Fillmore and Pine.

San Francisco is one of the most fascinating places I’ve visited. It is how we should all hope to live in the future, that is if we live in an urban area.

MYTH 3: Organized religion has too much power.

There is no doubt that organized religion had power, but there is little doubt that it is losing power.

The power any organization has over a person is isolation. For example, In the case of religion, its power resides in being able to strip you of your standing in the church, thus isolating you from your congregation, which in past generations meant being isolated from your community. Knowing that this could happen kept members in line.

Today, however, this has changed. With the advent of digital technology, people in marginalized circumstances ban together in social networks that circumvent isolation.

Losing the ability to isolate a person has materially reduced organized religion’s power.

Rule Of Thumb

My rule of thumb is: Consider everything you hear or think as mere opinion.

All my experience strongly suggests that what we grow up believing is most often not grounded in fact. It is almost always based on one’s personal preferences or biases.

I conclude where I began. Life is mostly opinion supported by myth. Accept it for what it is, and use caution when making decisions based upon what you think is true. Fortunately, it hardly ever is.