What We Think We Know

I read the book the “Snowball” a few years ago about the life of Warren Buffet. It was a great read with plenty of detail about Buffet’s upbringing, education, and evolution of his life as an investor. As most people consider him the most successful investor of our generation, it was enlightening to read his story.

One of Buffet’s main principles of investing is making sure that those who operate the company have the highest integrity. Buffet has recalled, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

What people don’t know about Buffet was that he and first wife had an “open marriage.” He actually lived with his mistress while his wife was alive. Having been in finance for many years, this revelation about Buffet’s morality and values in his personal life was eye opening to me. I, like others, considered him a highly principled person. He’s in the news every day and his reach and influence in the world of finance cannot be overstated. Yet, the media fails to ever mention this curious fact.

Former President Clinton was impeached and disbarred for his actions while President. He too remains a darling of a Press who, as with Buffet, barely if ever mentions Clinton’s immorality and lack of ethics that impacted this nation for years. Not to mention the amount of people who were involved with Bill and Hillary Clinton who have died. (there are 90 suspicious deaths associated with the Clintons). Let that number slink in for a second. You would think that the media would have some interest in reporting this yet they remain silent.

This is not about politics. It is, however, about the media’s role in reporting the news and keeping the public sufficiently informed in order that we be able to make knowledgeable decisions. Why does the media treat the us as children… deciding what to selectively report rather than simply to report?

Dan Rather was fired for fabricating a story about George W. Bush and his military service. But the press aren’t the only perpetrators here when fabricating events. President Johnson actually lied about an attack on American interests in Vietnam aptly named, The Gulf of Tonkin incident which lead to the U.S getting involved in Vietnam.

This misreporting and dis-reporting isn’t limited to the media. Its in our school as well.

Last week my daughter had a homework assignment regarding the McCarthy hearings. She told me the teacher’s conclusion was that Joseph McCarthy had abused his power when investigating Communist sympathizers. I responded by telling her about the Verona Files released by the Russian government. These files proved what McCarthy had alleged. My daughter looked at me in disbelief. She had not heard that side of the story which happens to be the historically complete and accurate ending to the story.

As human beings we all have predispositions. We have opinions that we believe are facts. We have a world view that we believe is correct. I can’t even tell you how many things that I once believed that are no longer true. Yet I believe, for most people, it is easier to live inside that bubble than to question existing opinions and beliefs thereby challenging ourselves to grow.

Six months ago I ran into an old college friend. She knew I worked in finance and asked me how I thought some of the Obama Administration policies would impact the economy. About half way through my response, she put her hand to my face in order to “shush me.” She said she did not want to hear it as she was :not prepared to handle the truth. For her, it was better to live in an illusion than challenge her world view. This is the great paradox of life. The only way to learn, grow and expand is to shed our preconceptions.

Shedding of the old. Maybe that snake in the Garden of Eden had another really important message that has gone under reported as well.

Originally published at abovethefraypodcast.com on March 20, 2015.

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