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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I told you so

Calvin & Hobbes predicted it in 1992. Scott Adams (of Dilbert) predicted it. RBI governor knew it already. Alright, just take my word because I cannot hyperlink now what I’ve read sometime during last two month and this isn’t a research paper. What did they know? Well, that economy is going to go down the drain and housing market will crash and so on. As always, hindsight is 20/20 and there are many smart-alecs rising now to tell you that they had already forewarned us. It’s easy to look back and be happy that what you predicted so long ago came true. And it’s easy for public to blame policy makers for ignoring these “clear” signs of warning and doom. Problem is that there are as many opinions on earth as there are people. One of these ideas may come true by some random chance sometime in future, but how can we chafe wisdom from insanity now? A Russian professor is predicting disintegration of United States and now commands all ears because of near economic collapse of US economy. He might as well be warning sign if that were to happen, else, he will will just one more stray opinion on internet.

I am sure you have heard the story of a guy who successfully predicted stock price movements 20 times in a row. Would you trust him with your investments? You can do it too, it’s very simple. Select a million folks and tell half of them that price will rise and other half that price will fall. Depending on what happens next day, you do the same, and so on. On twentieth day, there will be small fraction of people who will be so bowled over by your accuracy that they will blindly hand you over their money to manage. Will that mean that you predictions made sense, or just that there are so many predictions in the world that someday someone will come and say, “I told you so”.

There is a pleasure in saying “I told you so”. We all know that pleasure and when opportunity presents us, often we throw the phrase at our near and dear ones. Being validated is sign of higher social status, however, that can happen without us reminding that we had already predicted the befallen misfortune. Wonder why no one says “I told you so” when things go right? Why then we take so much perverse pleasure in announcing this, when, in most situations involving friends and families, other party already knows this. Those who can resist often command higher respect, yet sometimes it becomes difficult for me to resist. Sometimes humiliation of party which dared to defy me becomes more important than long-term implications of such attitude. Is it the same pleasure which one gains from another’s failure?