Nobody Knows ANYTHING - A Book Review
W K Darcy
"None of us has all the answers and if you don’t question your beliefs regularly you will never get it right in life." Bob Moriarty
It only took me 22 years out of high school to realize what Bob Moriarty has summarized in his book Nobody Knows Anything. Now, 42 years after finishing high school, I find myself recommending Moriarty's book to youngsters because it provides a simple and logical foundation and understanding of economics and investing that I wish I had while IN high school!
To learn from the experience of others by reading and NOT watching videos is the most efficient learning tool out there and has been in use for THOUSANDS of years. Moriarty is a testament to this fact as he is a successful investor, publisher AND speed reader and claims that he can read 1500 words per minute! (And I thought I was doing well at 400 words per minute!) Video learning does have a place in this world, but you can only learn as fast as the video.
In the first part of Nobody Knows Anything, Moriarty uses and summarizes examples from the free book Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, (EPD) by Charles Mackay. These historical examples of the "Delusions and Madness of Crowds" prepares the reader to understand Moriarty's "Contrarian Investment" approach for deciding when and which investments to consider AND when to sell those investments using "some" technical data, common sense, simple principles and knowledge of human nature which is detailed in EPD. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand and apply Moriarty's methods.
While Moriarty's Nobody Knows Anything is an easy two to three-hour read, and is a great primer for understanding investing/markets and principles for not losing money, (and hopefully coming out ahead on investments) most young people will look at EPD as a 400+ page antiquity and scoff at the notion of such a relic providing guidance and wisdom in the modern world (as well as the idea of trying to digest such a volume).
However, upon completing Moriarty's Nobody Knows Anything, the serious reader who has the self-discipline to jump in will find Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds to be almost an epiphany to a better understanding not only of Nobody Knows Anything and contrarian investing, but also of today's delusions and madness such as Bitcoin, Tesla, Obamacare, Trillion-Dollar Debts, Never-ending wars, Global Warming, Cooling, Climate Change, Asteroid Strike, and Identity Politics.
Efficiency of Learning is what Moriarty's book brings to life with historical examples as well as examples from Moriarty's own "life experiences and observations".
Moriarty's focus is on financial investments, specifically commodities and the companies which produce them. From MY life's experiences though, I can confidently say that Moriarty's contrarian principles and recommendations are applicable to investments of education, career, understanding politics, and even deciding where and how you may want to live.
There are two items on which I disagree with Moriarty.
First, Moriarty discounts stories of "manipulation" of markets and that it is not necessary to burden oneself with trying to address this issue, but should focus on the "signals" and not "the noise" of the markets. However, I believe that there are significant actors trying to manipulate any given market (not just stocks and commodities) and that any prudent person should at least be aware of "external" factors (manipulations) whether making financial investments, educational investments, or career investments.
Second, Moriarty comments that: "If you read only one investment book in your entire life, don’t make it this book (Nobody Know Anything). Make it the classic book on human behavior first published in 1841 called Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, by Charles Mackay." (EPD)
Moriarty's Nobody Knows Anything, I believe, should be read first (2 to 3 hours) to prepare the reader with modern experiences and examples while still using historical cases which will be expounded upon when the reader takes on the 400 page EPD.
Any young person (ESPECIALLY teenagers) who have the desire to make a life for themselves and not just be part of the herd , will be far ahead of their contemporaries with Moriarty's "Nobody Knows Anything" under their belt. And adults can also gain insight and knowledge to make their lives better, although many of them (myself included) will undoubtedly have those "Homer Simpson" moments when they recognize examples which they experienced in their lives and may have avoided with the knowledge and wisdom contained in Moriarty's Nobody Knows Anything.
W K Darcy