The Truth Isn't Out There
"Space: the final frontier..."
It seems that every day, we come closer and closer to plunging into the depths of space. We've watched artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technology evolve to meet the inevitable demands of space travels. But as we turn our gazes to the stars, we're forced to ask a question that's been nagging at us since the dawn of time...
Are we alone in the universe?
Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending AlienCon in the Baltimore Convention Center. It's close-minded to assume that there isn't some other sort of life out there in the infinite universe. That life might not look like us. It might not be intelligent. But there's definitely something out there somewhere...
But I'm certainly no true "believer." I think the Roswell, New Mexico, UFO incident was a hoax. I don't think they "walk among us." Those crop circles were just mowed by lonely farmers looking for attention. That being said, my buddy was able to secure us a couple of free press passes. I'm incapable of turning down that level of people watching. So, I went with an open, but highly skeptical, mind.
It was exactly the sorts of events and speakers that you'd expect. A yoga instructor claimed that her several abductions gave her the ability to read minds. There was a "professor" who'd developed a foolproof method to identify a skin suit-wearing alien from a normal human. And in the next room, there was a symposium on crystal healing. But there was one speaker who stood out from the unbalanced masses...
Travis Walton, a mustachioed, poor man's Tom Selleck, is arguably the most famous alien abductee of all time. He's been speaking about his experience at conferences like AlienCon since his supposed abduction from a logging camp in 1975. He's written a book, The Walton Experience, which Paramount developed into the horror movie, Fire in the Sky, in 1993.
Walton has failed countless lie detector tests. He famously failed one on Fox's The Moment of Truth in 2008, a polygraph-based game show that used to come on right after American Idol. But the question that Walton keeps asking the debunkers, the game show hosts, and the documentarians is "why would I lie?"
Well, some cursory research reveals some pretty clear reasons as to why Walton would lie about an alien abduction. In 1975, before logger Walton allegedly spent five days aboard a UFO in Arizona, he and his crew were behind on their deadline. Their logging contract said if they didn't complete their project by a certain date, they'd receive a 10% dock in their pay. Save, of course, an "act of God" clause, which is what their legal team categorized Walton's abduction under. As for the five loggers who testified that they'd seen Walton lifted up by a white beam from the sky? They were all members of Walton's logging union and were all subject to the same contract. And I won't even get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars that this guy has brought in from 43 years of public appearances, TV spots, and royalties from Fire in the Sky.
So, why do we lie? You could lie like Walton for financial gain. It could be for convenience. Or you could be trying to spare somebody's feelings. Even the best among us tell lies. But there's nowhere that you need to be more wary of lies than in the financial sector.
Sign up for the Park Avenue Digest newsletter below to stay on top of the greatest value investment ideas... You'll also get our free report, The Munger Method.
Take a second to think over Warren Buffett's rules for investing:
a. Can I understand it?…
b. Does it have some sort of sustainable long-term competitive advantage?...
c. How do I feel about the management in terms of their ability and honesty?
d. What's the price?
When you read between the lines, you start to see a pretty clear picture. More than anything, Buffett is only trying to teach us how to avoid getting ripped off. Buzzwords like "ability and honesty" and "can I understand it?" just allude to one simple, incontrovertible fact...
People will lie to you.
More specifically, financial players will lie to you. They'll promise surefire riches and tout inhumanly high gains if it means that they can snag a few checks from you. But like I said, as I sat in my chair in the convention center and listened to a man talk about little bald men and the sleek interior of a spaceship, it only took a few minutes on my phone to conceive why he would have concocted his story.
And you can do the same with investing. If an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take the time to look at a company's performance history and portfolios. Hell, do a background check before you go all in with a guru.
At Angel Publishing, we pride ourselves on the honesty and transparency with which we communicate with our readers. But not everybody has our scruples. As you move through the murky waters of the stock market, take your time, be careful, and listen to accredited investors.
Don't get burned. Don't let your portfolio get abducted.
Contributing Editor, Park Avenue Digest