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Blowhards, Broken Clocks, and Confirmation Bias

A man named Sky is about to get pissed at me. Sorry, Sky.

Astrology is a pseudoscience that preys upon the all-too-human irrationality of confirmation bias.

Either that, or your life is subject to the positions of nearby moons, slightly more distant planets, and stars that are lightyears away.

Seems plausible!

Like I said…Sky, I’m sorry man! It’s bogus!

Confirmation bias occurs when people “search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior experience.”

For example, my actual horoscope today reads:

You’ll have an opportunity to speak from the heart without feeling overly vulnerable today, dear Aries, as communicative Mercury shares a sweet connection with the healing asteroid, Chiron. Meanwhile, the moon continues its journey through Cancer, bringing a compassionate and sensitive energy your way. Use the momentum of this cosmic climate to nurture your dearest friendships, but don’t hold back if you need to voice dissatisfaction in your relationships, as long as you do so from a calm and diplomatic place. The moon moves into Leo just as the witching hour nears, bringing out your inner creativity over the next two days. 

I can speak from the heart, being compassionate and sensitive. I can nurture my friendships, but also voice dissatifaction. But I have to be calm and diplomatic. Also, I’ve got 48 hours of creativity. And after those 48 hours? I don’t know. What happens after the witching hour ends?!

In other words, my horoscope reads: “today, you’re a human being.”

Because this is just one Aries horoscope from today. According to those other ones, today also brings me frustration, confusion, joy, a slight head-cold, hunger, laughter, and every other human emotion. Are they all true for all Aries?

Of course not.

But some people believe in horoscopes because they “interpret…information in a way that confirms or supports their prior experience” about who they are. Textbook confirmation bias.

Horoscopes are written so generally that any person could reasonably twist the words to fit their own life. And sometimes the confirmation will be so strong that even the most rational reader will think, “Surely this can’t be a coincidence…”

But it is a coincidence. It always has been and always will be. Horoscopes are like blind squirrels and broken clocks.

Crash-Calling Bullshit

Friend-of-the-blog Craig sent me this article this week:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/major-crash-come-robert-kiyosaki-110000884.html

…along with the following commentary:

I just want to go through and capture all of the bullshit people calling for everything to implode, and hold onto it to look back on in 5 years.

– Reader Craig

Craig’s got a great point. Blowhards and bullshit artists like Robert Kiyosaki** sow fear for a living.

**“But he sold a million copies of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”

He wrote one book and has been a con artist ever since.

Here’s a graphical representation of Kiyosaki’s awful takes.

  • 2011: “The crash is not over.” He was referring to the Great Financial Crisis.
  • 2015: “Crash coming in 2016. I’ve been calling it since 2002.” What?! Calling a crash 14 years in advance??
  • 2017: “Real estate crash is coming.” I’m still waiting, Bob.
  • 2018: “Biggest crash is coming.” And…?
  • 2020: “The everything crash is coming.” Ev-ery-thing. Ev-ery-thing.
  • 2021: “Stock market crash coming.” Maybe he was right this time?!

If you sold you stocks in October 2021 (like Robert said) you’d be pretty happy right now.

If you sold your stocks in 2011, 2015, 2017, 2018, or 2020—like Robert said—you’d be pretty pissed right now.

The man is a blowhard. He doesn’t deserve credit for being right once a decade. He’s a rich wolf, and his avid fans are poor sheep. He uses doomsday predictions to instill fear, and then sell. Fear, sell, profit.

Kiyosaki is a pessimistic horoscope writer. Today will be rainstorm – and you left your umbrella at home. And when a storm actually does rain on your parade, it’ll feel like Kiyosaki was onto something.

But we too quickly forget we’ve had a sunny, dry summer, despite Kiyosaki calling for rain every day. He’s a blind squirrel. He’s a broken clock. He’s a blowhard, a bullshit artist, a mad prophet.

Reader Craig is correct. Our only option is to preserve his bad calls as evidence. We need to remind the financial astrologers (and ourselves) just how wrong they’ve been. These astrologers are the boys who cried wolf. And we’re correct to not believe them, even when they happen to get one right. They’ve foisted it upon themselves.

Either that, or the moons of Uranus are entering the house of Sauron. In which case we’re all screwed. At least that’s why Sky told me…

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-Jesse

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