Seeking Wisdom IX – Beware of the wild side! About self-deception & denial – Who are you? “Won’t get fooled again!”


“I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again, no, no”

Won’t get fooled again – The Who

Self-deception & denial - In his famous 1974 preamble address at Caltech, American physicist Richard Feynman warned against self-deception: “ The first principle, he said, is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool”. Long before that, Demosthenes, the Greek statesman, said something similar: “Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”

In the positive stock rally going on, I’d love to believe the court jester. You may recall that in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, the court jester can tell the truth to the king or the queen without having his or her head chopped off. They were the “fools of yore” who used humor that instructed as it amused. More importantly, the fool was never afraid to question conventional wisdom.

The Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscription newsletter, which the award-winning analyst team have run for over a decade, has apparently quadrupled the market. According to the Motley Fool website (, their culture is to make the world smarter, happier and richer. Isn’t it pleasing to read about their good intentions? Well, during the 2001 internet bubble, the heads of 4/5 of their analyst team were chopped off. In the meantime, the team beefed up again. Did they get carried away?

I feel that Motley Fool’s crew is taking people onto the wild side. This reminds me of Mötley Crüe, the eponymous heavy metal band, and their tune “Wild Side”:

”We can’t just keep talking about it
We think too often about it
We can’t just be cautious about it
I wanna get wild

Take me for a ride, boy
Show me your wild side, boy
Know it’s been a while boy
I wanna get wild”

I personally prefer “Won’t get fooled again” by The Who. That’s who I am. Better song, better advice.

We believe something is true because it sounds believable or we want to believe it, especially with issues of love, health, religion and death. This is one reason why people follow gurus. They encourage followers to trust their hearts and forget their heads. Bad news that is true is better than good news that is wrong.

In Skeptical Essays, the philosopher mathematician, Bertrand Russell, said:
“What is wanted is NOT the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.” In these pandemic days, Bertrand’s advice is wise. Better song. Better advice.​