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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing
Old 03-15-2007, 07:38 PM   #21
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing

I bought the book through Amazon laST week, just barely cracked the first few pages so far. I'll devote some time to it this weekend. So far so good.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?” - Edgar Bergen
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing
Old 03-15-2007, 09:07 PM   #22
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing

I'm a little pooped out to do this all right now, but I will say this as a place-holder:

1. "Four Pillars" is great. Bernstein is both wise and a good author. That said, he is NOT perfect.

2. I have had some misgivings with some of his stories used to support ideas. The ideas may be sound, but a few of the illustrations just seem like old saws that may not hold up to either fact-checking or statistical rigor. I am NOT saying anything other than he may have made the all-too human mistake of being attached to some old war stories and useful examples that might not all pass a 'Snopes check'.

3. Sure enough, his use of the example of Bayesian statistics to find a sunken sub, USS Scorpion, seemed unlikely, and I thought the numbers seemed artificial, and the story highly improbable. (The technique was used, has validity, but the story was a bit TOO pat).

4. My intuition appears correct. Here are a couple of clips directly in contravention of Bernstein's colorful story. As is usual with accidents involving aircraft, ships, and other intricate technology, the real story is MORE intriguing, less certain, and far more subtle than the short chestnut would make it out to be.

5. So is his point wrong? No. But this (IMHO) is likely just one of many places where loose use of 'stories' or 'common knowledge' might mar otherwise excellent insight and advice.

Many might think it unworthy of me making this criticism, but to me anything that gets us closer to the ground truth is good. Hopefully some will be interested.

I am going to link to three or four small blurbs out of a book available on Amazon, and can't imagine this would be an issue because 1) It ought to generate eyeballs and interest for book (I have no $ interest), 2) "Fair Use" Law indemnifies those who are not for profit, doing critical assessment, using in limited way, extended use, etc. I am doing all of that.


Intro to Gordon Hamilton and SOFAR:


La Palma:

Recordings & concept:

3 months of searching...:

The sled finds it:

Bottom line? Well, this is how Gordon Hamilton (and many others) saw it:


At the Bermuda SOFAR Station the initial SOSUS research was done (with Joe Worzel), the first Precision Depth Recorder was developed (by Bernie Luskin) and my research, data and analysis led to finding the lost USS Scorpion debris field in 1967.

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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing
Old 03-16-2007, 01:13 AM   #23
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing

Originally Posted by Sam
William Bernstein's book pops up several times a week on this forum since I joined this board. Yet, I haven't read it. Before I commit myself to spending $20, I have a few questions:

1) Isn't there a single thing wrong about his theory? What didn't you like about this book?
Bernstein does not really provide a prescriptive theory. He provides a lot of data about what has and what hasn't worked in the past. I don't find Berstein as compelling as many posters on this board. He does collect and present a great deal of academic and financial literature in a well-organized fashion. But I also think he sometimes gets lost in mathematical space and fails completely to couple the mathematics to reality. This results if a few mistakes.

2) Sounds like he's saying that there's no chance of beating the market. Did he mention Warren Buffet at all in his book?
I think he builds a strong case that beating the market over the long term is very rare. He does discuss Warren Buffet. I have to add, that investors need to understand that Warren Buffet achieves his results as much through his management skills as through his investment skills.

3) Do you follow his method to the letter?
there really isn't a prescriptive method to follow. I don't agree with all of his conclusions.

Should I spend TWENTY dollars on this book?
No. Check it out from the library. That's what I did.
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing
Old 03-16-2007, 04:56 AM   #24
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing

Sadly Pillars is not only not available in the Barnes & Noble, but the only copy in the Hawaii library system is an downloadable audio book.

Of course, the audio book software isn't compatible with an iPod (thank you Apple and RIA) so I am listening to it while surfing the web.

Frankly without the charts I am not sure it is all that great.
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing
Old 03-16-2007, 07:16 AM   #25
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Re: The Four Pillars of Investing

Originally Posted by clifp

Of course, the audio book software isn't compatible with an iPod (thank you Apple and RIA) so I am listening to it while surfing the web.
Don't blame Apple. Blame the audio book publisher - they chose the DRM. iPods will play any DRM free audio.

The music labels forced the DRM on the music that they sell through the Apple iTunes Music Store.

Steve Jobs statement:
Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. ...... Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.


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