In our age of free and easy information, there is far more bullsh*t than useful advice.
After all, it takes much less effort to make things up, than to uncover information that is truly helpful.
Take vaccine science for example. It took 200 years for medical researchers to get to the information that enables us to prevent deadly diseases today. And all it took was a few people to claim – with absolutely zero evidence – that vaccines cause autism, and now there’s a substantial portion of the US population who doubt vaccine safety⁽¹⁾.
Or take the news. It would be 10x easier to produce a clickbait article with no substantive proof, than to verify sources, cross-reference evidence and write a balanced, well-thought article.
Compared to reliable information, bullsh*t is much easier to produce.
The proliferation of BS
Today, there’s an order of magnitude more BS about Forex trading than even five years ago.
It’s a toxic trend that will only get worse because there is zero cost to publishing unsubstantiated claims on the internet. The predictable result of this, is a steady increase in the ratio of ‘garbage’ to ‘good information’ over time.
In other words, good information will get increasingly harder to come by.
Fooled by Marketers
A while ago I wrote a post called The Map is not the Territory. It briefly explains the difference between actual understanding, versus surface knowledge that only looks good on paper.
Related to it is one of the worrying trends I’m seeing today – the proliferation of what I call ‘textbook trading concepts’. It’s the idea that one can approach trading along the lines of “If you see A, do B”, as though there’s a step-by-step approach to making money from the markets.
“Learn to trade with Elliot waves.”
“Make money with this secret indicator.”
“The complete guide to Keltner channels.”
The list goes on and on.
Every time I read such articles it quickly becomes clear that they were written with one purpose only: to rank well in the Google search listings. It has almost nothing to do with actually helping traders.
How do I know? Well, an easy telltale sign is the number of “how to trade” articles the author puts out.
The last time I came across one such content creator – let’s call him John – his website had guides to at least 16 different technical indicators (I stopped counting after 16). How likely is it that John uses all of these indicators in his own trading? The probability is near zero.
And this begs the question: why would John go through the trouble of writing dozens of trading guides, when he doesn’t use them in his own trading?
The answer: Because he’s not writing to share useful information about what he’s learned. He’s writing to rank his website on the Google search listings to get traffic.
There are far more marketers than actual traders
You see, the more trading articles John publishes, the more the Google algorithm considers his website to be an authority on the topic.
The algorithm, of course, has no idea whether John actually knows what he’s talking about – he doesn’t have to prove the validity of the information he publishes.
Now take the thousands of so-called trading “experts” like John, who fill the internet with countless articles teaching textbook concepts that only sound good in theory (but don’t work in practice), and you have the state of online trading education today.
Few people actually take the time (i.e. years) to trade with the same few methods long enough to truly understand how to use them. All these textbook traders know are the theoretical concepts they’ve read about from books or from each other’s articles.
So the tragedy is that the original and truly useful information (that takes years to discover) gets buried by the countless variations of the same textbook concepts that takes just days to copy and get published.
This is why you see the same useless trading ideas being repeated over and over again. There are far more savvy internet marketers than there are savvy traders.
So what can a beginner trader do?
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. The amount of bullsh*t online has grown to epic proportions.
So the bad news is that it will get increasingly difficult for newcomers to learn how real trading is done.
On the other hand, the good news is that the rewards of good trading will get proportionately larger. The harder it is to develop a skill, the more valuable that skill becomes.
My suggestions are to:
- Prioritise learning from people who do, not people who talk,
- Personally verify everything you’re taught, and
- Do so as soon as possible
The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing. – Nassim Taleb