By Brad Thomason, CPA
Jimmy is going to roll a six, which will put him on Oriental. Even though he’s running a little short on cash, he’ll buy it. Bob already has Connecticut and Vermont, so it seems prudent to try and block him from getting a monopoly.
Bob will land on Chance, and then have to go to jail. Which is just fine with him, as he is already well in the lead on land ownership.
Frank will land on Marvin’s, completing the yellow monopoly. He will immediately start counting his money and thinking about how much to spend on houses in the next round.
Chuck is hoping that he will finally land on Indiana. He’s been around the board four times now since picking up Kentucky, and he really needs to complete the set. Predictably, he’ll overshoot it, land on B&O, and have to fork over some much-needed money to Jimmy…
Plausible? Of course. Realistic chance of it happening? You bet. Certainly as equal a chance as any number of comparable scenarios.
But a prediction of the future that’s worth listening to?
Come on. You know better than that.
Right now there is no shortage of media content purporting to tell you what the result of the pandemic is going to be. I wouldn’t say that all of it should go straight into the not-worth-listening-to category. Some interesting information is being raised and some not-obvious possibilities are being brought to light. But after accounting for that? Yea, at that point I’d have to say it’s not worth listening to.
The track record for humans being able to accurately predict how complex series of events will play out stands at roughly 0% effectiveness.
Please don’t tell me that so-and-so has access to special information which is not widely known.
Please don’t tell me that so-and-so made a correct prediction about something in the past, and therefore we should take the latest prediction as accomplished gospel.
I’ve said plenty of things in the past which ended up being reflective of what ended up happening, but I can assure you that having done so has, in no way, transmuted me into a being that can’t be wrong the next time I open my mouth. Nor one that can see the future.
In times of stress we go looking for answers. Those who think they have answers feel compelled to share them. Speculation, in a void where no actual answers exist, often gets accepted as the real article – both by the speakers and the listeners.
But just as no one could have foretold how the last two months have played out had they been asked back in January, neither can anyone today tell you how the next few months will play out.
There are simply too many moving pieces involved, and too many points where a single person – politician, public health official, infected person – can do something which alters the equation.
I have heard a lot of smart people have serious conversations about what the world is going to look like this summer, this fall, next year. Not may look like. WILL look like. These people are bright enough to know that human prediction of the future is impossible. Yet they seem to have forgotten that. It seems helpful to offer a reminder to not make the same mistake.
We all know what happens when we make plans on the basis of a weather forecast that is 8 or 9 days in the future. We look at the forecast, we hope it’s right if it is conducive to what we want to do, or hope that it’s wrong if it isn’t. But we know that we can’t really hang our hat on it, and that we really have no rational choice other than to keep the plans tentative until it gets closer to time and some of the uncertainty leaves the equation.
If that’s valid for a picnic or a fishing trip, how much more important is it to realize the changeable – and unknowable – character of the terrain right now as we think about financial decisions and put those decisions into action?
No one knows how this is going to play out. Assuming that someone does, and acting on the basis of the possible future they pitch as inevitable, could lead to making some disastrous financial moves.
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