A client remarked to me last week during our check up that they can’t remember a time when they were so confused as to who to listen to. The stories and suggestions that spring forth from so many sources make our heads spin. “Why is that?”, They were asking. “I don’t know who to trust anymore!”
A very wise and patient professor once told me to consider the source of your news. This always stuck with me, probably because I was born with a skeptical tilt. Not that I don’t trust, but I am that guy who always asks why and ends up poking holes in the bag to see what’s inside… what’s making it do what it does. (Not without consequence at times—LOL).
This logic has compelled me to question everything until I’m satisfied with the answer. I remember doing this with books about theology. While some were satisfied to read C.S. Lewis, I wanted to know what C.S. Lewis read. Who were his influences that helped him to write great works like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, or The Screwtape Letters. A quick web search (I don’t use the “G” word) revealed that he actually published it in a preface to a republication of Athanasius’ On The Incarnation, C.S. said that if he had to choose between old and new, he would choose the old literature. (I’m paraphrasing heavily, but the point is the same.) His reasons were that 1. The old books have been time tested while new literature is still in its trial period, and 2. Reading the old stuff keeps him from adopting the group-think common to the current era. (Diversification of thought, if you will.)
So how does this apply to us today? To the news? To economy and markets? In every way! Our perception of these things is directly influenced by what we watch, listen to, and read. If we simply absorb current sources without recalling history, we can be swept into the “current” of popular thought. I’m reminded of what popular thought did to our economy just 16 years ago. Some who are reading this will also remember, and may have only recently rebuilt from it.
So let’s put down the remote and pick up a book. I’ve still got my economics book from college, and I reach for it many times during the year. I encourage my friends to do the same. If you don’t have such a book, an easy way to educate yourself is the National Bureau of Economic Research website. View their research page here or by going to NBER.org and clicking “Research.” There’s a search field at the top that you can use to access some great articles, old and new. Want to read about inflation? Why not read a journal from 1983. How does the economy react to war and why? There’s a book about that from 1943. Most of these are free to download instantly.
The old adage that “knowledge is power” is still alive and true today. Let us never forget that. And may we always keep that power which makes us who we are: alive, free, and healthy.
Always with Candor,