Gustavo Ballvé on July 22nd, 2010
Food for thought, Home, Mental models, Portfolio Management, Risk management

Great read! Many analogies with investing in this Slate post about a mountaineer’s worst mistakes. Quoting from the introduction: “(…) I was curious about the kind of attitude you develop toward error when a single mistake can easily cost you your life. I also wanted to test a hypothesis that I call “the paradox of error”: If your goal is to avoid making mistakes, then you must constantly assume that you are about to make one. That’s why fields like aviation and medicine have, at their best, a productive obsession with error.”

The article’s title had us thinking of another issue, one that’s just as important.

That’s because the title is obviously inspired by Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air”, which shared the first-person, dramatic account of a tragic Everest climbing attempt that claimed five lives. In the best-selling book, Mr. Krakauer very elegantly and convincingly singled out russian super-climber Anatoli Boukreev as guilty of omission and almost destroyed his career – until Mr. Boukreev’s own version of the tale appeared in the book “The Climb”, contradicting Krakauer’s book point by point as effectively or more. The debate raged for years until Mr. Boukreev’s death in another climb.

The point is: even EX-post, clear-tempered analysis of mistakes can lead to further mistakes. Just the attitude of looking back isn’t enough; one must be prepared to hear all sides of the tale with an open mind… even if that means a constant “sparring” of contradicting ideas in one’s mind. For every piece of hard-to-dig “evidence” there’s likely a solid counter-argument that should be considered just as diligently.

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