On April 1, The Motley Fool issued a groundbreaking announcement: the creation of Motley Fool EchoChambər™, a tool to improve your well-being by protecting you from any information you might disagree with.
As we explained in our siren-song video,
Advancements in artificial intelligence let us search your internet history. We listen to what you believe in and care about, match your ideas with like-minded ones, and adjust your entire internet experience to block out the world's noise, and return with hand-picked ideas you'll love.
You need never encounter another uncomfortable idea again. EchoChambər™ can help you find your truth.
Happy April Fool's Day!
As many of you guessed, it was all just our celebration of The Motley Fool's de facto annual holiday, April Fools' Day. Every year we take a time-out from our regular programming in an attempt to amuse (as well as educate and enrich) individual investors.
So no, we didn't really create a creepy EchoChambər™ to take over your Internet life in order to reinforce your preexisting beliefs and block out ideas that might upset you.
But just for fun, we did create a way for you to trial-run our spoof EchoChambər™ prototype so that you can generate customized articles that tell you exactly what you want to hear.
Think the roaring economy makes real estate attractive? You can learn all about how to play it with "Equestrian Estates: An Unmatched Profit Opportunity". A taste:
Many speculators learned lessons during the housing bubble. Many didn't. And it's a good thing too, as bad students make for great bubbles. Repeat speculators should continue reinflate the housing market and boost property values for smart real estate investors.
Believe bonds are the right way to play this dumpster-fire economy? Find why you're absolutely right in "When the Zombies Arrive, You'll Be Glad You De-Risked Into Bonds":
Bondholders can rest easy knowing that their work creates millions of American jobs every year in the regulatory compliance, legal, tax, and drycleaning fields.
Bonds are debt instruments that guarantee regular payments at a set interest rate (unless the issuer goes broke or otherwise awol).... Everyone should own some bonds.
Maybe you think lottery tickets are your best bet in economically uncertain times? Learn "Why Scratch 'N Sniff Is the Only Upside Left Standing":
Historically returns on lottery tickets haven't kept up with their costs. Return on investment has usually ranged from 40 to 60 percent loss. But the future might be different. Many asset classes that seemed like silly investments turned out to be quite lucrative in hindsight. Andean guano became fertilizer. Dino bits became fossil fuels. Bread mold became penicillin. What's more, talented lottery players can often generate exceptional returns. There are millions of reasons to play. The only question is between number draw or scratch 'n sniff.
Perhaps you believe in gold? We agree with that too! Q.v."The Coming Market Apocolypse, Gold, and You":
No matter what the economy does next, gold remains a safe haven that also appreciates in price.
Sometimes mistaken for a commodity, gold is really a currency. It's also an asset class. It's also a store of value. From time immemorial, every society that didn't use silver, bronze, copper, seashells, beads, or giant stone rocks used gold as their currency, making it an excellent choice today too.
Whatever you happen to believe, it's easy to find (alleged) confirmation.
In all seriousness...
Let's face it. It's uncomfortable to encounter ideas that contradict our beliefs. All-the-more-so when those beliefs are ones we hold dear.
Human beings have an innate tendency to avoid irritating information, and to seek out ideas that confirm what we already believe. What's more, we tend to remember and interpret the information we do encounter in a way that supports our held beliefs.
This cluster of tendencies, known collectively as "confirmation bias," naturally leads us to overconfidence (All the evidence I've ever seen is in my favor!) and poor decision-making (Well, I should probably act on a sure thing!).
Studies have fingered overconfidence as one of the primary culprits responsible for investors' bias toward short-term trading and underperformance. When we're too sure of ourselves, we're liable to buy stocks we shouldn't, sell stocks we shouldn't, and trade too frequently -- leading to high transaction costs and poorly thought-out investments.
Confirmation bias also can lead us to hold onto discredited information (Hey, everything I read agrees with me!) and polarization (I've never seen a single good argument supporting the other side!)
Each of us holds opinions, but all-too-often, we're not doing the work necessary to hold warranted opinions. Which is a huge problem for us not only in investing, but, obviously, in real life, and, increasingly, social media.
Internet companies' ability to collect information on us, scale content cheaply, and then target us with a curated and personalized experience poses a great risk of exacerbating confirmation bias.
The more ideas are filtered through a medium that prizes "relevance" and "engagement", the easier it is for us to avoid encountering news or other users who articulate perspectives with which we disagree.
All this isn't to say that all ideas are equally good (they're not!) -- just that we'll never find out which beliefs are actually good if we never encounter them.
"Am I trying to feel good, or am I trying to learn something?"
So what can we do?
For starters, we can think more critically about sources we agree with and actively seek out ideas we don't.
Maybe we'll find out that we were mistaken (and wouldn't it be better to know which things we're wrong about?). But even if we don't come around to the other side, encountering contrasting beliefs can help us to better understand what it is we do believe and may help us to appreciate life's inherent complexity with more nuance and humility.
Now, for your generous feedback
You loved EchoChambər™ and lavished approval on our creation. We can't tell you how grateful were were to have received 100% positive, glowing praise. (That's regardless of the exact text you may have typed, as the comment section automatically puts a positive spin on everything. Hey -- solipsism cuts both ways! :)
Here were some of our favorite comments:
It's things like this that make me wish i were you!
The Echo Chambər™ has given my life meaning again.
I never want to experience life outside of the Echo Chambər.™
I'm always so impressed with your work!
You truly are my favorite website!
I'll never stop using the Echo Chambər™.
I think you just disrupted Facebook. I'll never stop using the Echo Chambər™.
I cannot heap enough praise on this tool!!!
Disappointing. You are doing an amazing job. Keep up the good work!
It's things like this that make me wish i were you! I love the fool on April 1.
I'm always so impressed with your work! Please echo my comments!!
best chamber™ EVER
I would like to see social media posts that are statements of pure conjecture from people with no expertise or inside knowledge that support my previously held opinions ;-) best chamber™ EVER!
Thank you for all the advise on lottery tickets. Now I just have to determine the appropriate mix of number draw versus scratch'n'sniff tickets to purchase. I cannot heap enough praise on this tool!!!
I love it when a plan comes together!! You tell me exactly what I'm asking you
Without any specific details, the answers seem "Canned", like those from a fortune cookie. Being in the Echo Chambər™ gives me immense pleasure.
LOL!!!!! <3 ROFL!!!! OMG i Luv!!!! THIS!!!!!!!
best chamber™ EVER! Happy Fool's Day!
Until next year, Fool On!