Brave New World, Same Old Biases
🎯Synopsis: Sail on with these four lessons
on battling your biases from a brave new world.
⚓️The Admiral puffed up his chest and walked through the great double doors with his head held high. After miserable months at sea, a near mutinous crew, mechanical mishaps and the incessant doldrums he had returned. This was to be his triumph.
He found himself in a capacious and ornate room with a long carpet of rich red leading to a small platform where his two patrons sat waiting. He ambled forward, his sea legs still unaccounted to the lack of pitch and roll. He swallowed his considerable pride and with an effort bowed low. Then he assumed his full height and said in the booming voice of a sea commander: “Your majesties, I bring you greetings from new lands. A new world. In Japan.”
👸🏻 Queen Isabella had a long, not unattractive, face with soft features when she smiled. She was not smiling now. Her red hair was pulled back in a bun accentuating the arch of her reddish-brown eyebrows.
🌎“Japan? That must mean the circumference of the globe is 14,000 miles.” She was smart too.
“Why, yes, your majesty, I have always thought so. Since I began my calculations years ago.”
🤴🏼“And what of the inhabitants?” This was the King, who sat alternately stroking his mustache and chin whiskers. He too had a long oval face and deep-set eyes. Of course, the similarity was no accident. The Royal couple were also second cousins.
“They will all greet us as glorious saviors. We will bring the glories of Europe and the Church. They will come to us with open arms!”
On April 15th 1493, Christopher Columbus, returned from his maiden voyage to the New World, and met with his benefactors, the king and queen of Spain in Barcelona. Convinced he had reached Asia, his report to the Royal Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, was glowing, if somewhat exaggerated. For a brief while, he was on top of the world. But after that first voyage, things started to go very wrong. His journeys, four in all, resulted in the opening of a new continent to good things like opportunities for trade and bad things like smallpox. If he had a social media status back in 1492, his relationship with history would read: “it’s complicated.”
A few new lessons for investors based on the varied career of Christopher Columbus:
⛵️ 1) Experts can be wrong. Columbus was considered an expert on navigation in his time and his calculations were, well, lacking accuracy. It happens. If experts knew everything there would be no need for new discoveries.
⛵️ 2) Our actions always have unintended consequences. The inhabitants also did not welcome the voyages as saviors. At least not many of them. Given control of the newly discovered lands, Columbus forced many of his new charges to look for gold, producing little but hatred for him and his compatriots. Revolt and complaints about his mismanagement led to his arrest in Spain after his third voyage. Columbus didn’t set out to wipe out the native population. But disease and a haughty disregard for the new culture virtually achieved that.
⛵️ 3) Anchoring bias can get you stuck. This bias has nothing to do with where Columbus parked the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. The actual circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. He underestimated the size of the globe, believing it was 63% smaller. To the end of his days he couldn’t accept anything different. See Lesson #1 above.
⛵️ 4) We often hear what we want to hear, see what we want to see. Columbus wanted to believe the islands he found were off the coast of Japan or China. But the natives in the New World looked and sounded nothing like the traders he had met from Asia. Which might have given him pause. He saw everything that seemed to confirm his theories and ignored whatever didn’t. He would have been something with his own Twitter or Facebook account where “curated” content is code for “feed my confirmation bias.”
Patrick Huey is an investment advisor representative of Dynamic Wealth Advisors dba Victory Independent Planning, LLC. All investment advisory services are offered through Dynamic Wealth Advisors. Patrick Huey is the author of two books: "History Lessons for the Modern Investor" and "the Seven Pillars of (Financial) Wisdom"; this is considered an outside business activity for Patrick Huey and is separate and apart from his activities as an investment advisor representative with Dynamic Wealth Advisors.
Photo: Bing.com, Free to share and use
Links & Sources:
1) http://www.indepthinfo.com/columbus-christopher/first-voyage. html
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