Quote of the Day: Harmful Noise…

Was chatting with a friend today about the general uselessness of mainstream financial media. I got to thinking that Taleb was more to the point in his epic book The Black Swan: Not only is the noise useless, in an investment context, it can be quite harmful (emphasis mine):

Show two groups of people a blurry image of a fire hydrant, blurry enough for them not to recognize what it is. For one group, increase the resolution slowly, in ten steps. For the second, do it faster, in five steps. Stop at a point where both groups have been presented an identical image and ask each of them to identify what they see. The members of the group that saw fewer intermediate steps are likely to recognize the hydrant much faster. Moral? The more information you give someone, the more hypotheses they will formulate along the way, and the worse off they will be. They see more random noise and mistake it for information.

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