Intellectual Humility

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

In my previous Nano headlined “Horseless Carriages”, I had mentioned about Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman’s view on the internet (in 1998). He had outrightly dismissed the impact of the internet on the world and our lives.

He did something similar once again with his May 20th, 2021, New York Times column “Technobabble, Libertarian Derp and Bitcoin.” One of the points he made- “Why are people willing to pay large sums for assets that don’t seem to do anything? The answer, obviously, is that prices of these assets keep going up, so that early investors made a lot of money, and their success keeps drawing in new investors.”

While I agree to this point of investors coming in huge droves simply for the price appreciation (and speculation), he has repeated his 1998 mistake by dismissing Bitcoin the same way he had dismissed the internet back then. One of the reasons could be the lack of intellectual curiosity but one of the reasons surely is a lack of intellectual humility.

Socrates’ popular quote comes to mind – “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge.

Authors Nils & Jonas have penned some wonderful lines – “Intellectual humility is all about understanding and acknowledging the limits of one’s knowledge, about recognizing that the things we believe in might be wrong, about being open to new ideas and opposing viewpoints and about willing to seek out information that conflicts with our worldviews. It’s about willing to admit mistakes and being comfortable saying: “I don’t know” and “I could be wrong.”

In the context of investing and money, do you possess Intellectual Humility?

If so, “What are you wrong about?” and “What is it that you don’t know?