The snow keeps piling up on the ground, and I’m going to have to face the music and dig my car out at some point. In the mean time, Chuck Jaffe presents his stupid investment of the week: The Teach Me To Trade seminar. I like when Chuck takes on these seminars in the “Stupid Investment” articles because we seem to hold the same opinion. A few years ago, a boss “strongly recommended” I attend his favorite “self-improvement” (money-shoveling) seminar called Landmark Education (formerly Forum or est), so I’m very skeptical of these activities.
Based on what the company showed at its free come-on seminar, however, most customers would have had trouble doing well enough with the system to make it worthwhile. For proof, there was the moment when Wilks showed a line pattern; the pattern’s trend was obvious and simple, and yet nearly half of the 60-plus people in attendance couldn’t read the chart right, saying it was time to buy when Wilks was pointing to a sell, and visa versa.
I think people attend these seminars because they want someone to teach them how to accomplish something quickly. In this case, it’s making money from trading stocks. If the attendants were intelligent, they wouldn’t have a problem learning this stuff independently. But Chuck points out an interesting observation — these people probably can’t learn on their own. Unfortunately, what they’re learning in the seminar seems to be above their level of understanding as well — hence the leader’s suggestion those who do not understand attend the more complex seminar.
One common theme among these seminars is they give the attendanta psychological defenses against people like me who believe these seminars are generally worthless. This defense is the classic circular response, “Those who are detractors just don’t get it. You get it, that’s why you’re here.”
Updated December 20, 2011 and originally published February 12, 2006.