Post of the Day
April 30, 1998

From our AOL
Oracle Board

Author: Pacgis

Dagmar, I jumped on SKA because his post was a virtual caricature of hype, and he or she was the one who made the bald and bold assertion "TIME TO BUY IS NOW" with no evidence whatever. He or she invited response, by declaring that "you heard it here first" and wagging his finger at me and the other 11 million AOL subscribers, saying that we would be sorry if we didn't follow his/her advice. It is up to SKA to present some evidence to justify these remarkable, arrogant assertions. If you post to these boards, you are publishing -- repeat, publishing -- and you have to take responsibility for what you write. SKA's post could not have been better designed to generate ridicule than if he or she had set out to deliberately look small-f foolish. I will explain why:

  1. His or her post was expressed in all caps. This is a rhetorical device designed to emphasize that what is written in caps is very important. Also known as "the voice of God." This is forgiveable in novice posters, but they should be weaned quickly from this practice. This alone would not have generate any response from me.
  2. Act fast. This is a classic feature of hype. It is designed to hurry the listener and give a sense of urgency, in order to persuade someone to act without thought. In this case, we have to act by Monday -- why, is not revealed.
  3. No reasons given. This means that we have no evidence to go on, which is an implicit assertion that we should trust the author, who is presumably operating on knowledge not bequethed to us mortals. We don't know SKA and have no reason to believe that he or she is any more trustworthy than the person who tried to sell me a gold chain on the streetcorner yesterday. Yet we are asked to act on his or her bald opinion, with no evidence or argument whatever, as if they had an established reputation in the field. Even when Warren Buffett recommends a stock, it is only grounds for further research -- when someone with a random screen name speaks, are we supposed to give credence to their opinions?
  4. A pointed claim of credit for predicting the presumed gain on Monday and predictions of sorrow for all who don't follow SKA's advice. This is what sparks such an emotional response from me and other posters. With these statements, SKA is assuming an oracular authority, the authority that comes from personal revelation from God. "You heard it here first" and "you will be sorry" if you don't own the stock. Jeez -- this is prancing arrogance. I would have no objection to a simple assertion that Oracle is worth owning -- that's cool by me, one vote, no problem. (Even better would be some evidence of WHY, but I guess that's asking a lot.) But these statements are an aggressive -- repeat, aggressive -- assertion of superiority. If you act provocatively, don't get surprised if people get provoked.

My larger point is, posts like these don't deserve the time of day -- this ain' t therapy, we don't have to tolerate baloney. Even if Oracle goes up on Monday (and God bless all Oracle holders, make money, it's got great software), I still would never ever invest based on "hot tips" like this. For every time I made a buck, I would lose ten following similar hypesters saying "Trust me".

And Dagmar, I guess you'll just have to "deal." When people make swaggering claims like SKA's, they deserve a vigorous rebuttal.

(Chuck Edwards)

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