We delight in breaking rules. But laws — real laws — the ones that govern the universe and human behavior…well, if we fight those, we’ll likely lose. But if we know them well and abide by them, we just might find ourselves a little smarter, happier, and richer.
In this episode of Rule Breaker Investing, David Gardner goes through six laws that apply to investing, business, or life in general, from serious to silly.
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool’s free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Aug. 31, 2021.
David Gardner: “I’m breaking rocks in the hot sun, I fought the law and the law won, I fought the law and the law won, I needed money because I had none, I fought the law and the law won, I fought the law and the law won.” The songwriter was Sonny Curtis. The year was 1958. I wasn’t around back then to hear it. But then again, in this century, Rolling Stone put it as No. 175 on the 500 greatest songs of all time list. The Crickets recorded it in 1959, as Sonny Curtis took the place of guitar from Buddy Holly, who’d tragically been lost to a plane crash earlier that year. Speaking of laws — yeah, the law of gravity, the law of mortality, two laws. To me, rules govern many aspects of our lives, but are often, as is said, made to be broken, and breaking rules is what we’re all about on this podcast. Breaking rules in investing, breaking rules in business, breaking rules in life. Rules are just rules. Laws are different. Laws, well, at least how I’m framing things here this week, run deep, and the consequences of fighting them are not good. Many of them are natural, like the natural law of entropy, that matter over time gravitates to its lowest, most disorganized state. Other laws are societal choices: thou shalt not steal. Well, this week I want to bring you a Foolish set of laws that apply to investing, business and life. Some are sublime, some are silly. Each will be explained and illustrated. The aim? What The Motley Fool’s aim always is to make you smarter, happier, and richer, one law at a time. Only on this week’s Rule Breaker Investing.
Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. Thank you for joining me on the meteorological start of fall. That’s right, September 1st. Not just meteorological, but I think for a lot of us, psychologically, the start to fall, back to school. Some of us in the U.S. celebrate Labor Day the weekend coming up often. We think of that as the end of summer, but for most of us and the rest of the world, September 1st is the start of fall. Now, I grew up with an astronomical definition of the seasons, perhaps you know this one as well. The autumnal equinox astronomically defines the first day of fall that’s on or around the 21st of the month, but I’m sticking with the meteorological definition. Perhaps you are too, happy fall.
Before we get into this week’s topic, I Fought The Law (And The Law Won), I do want to just preview a little bit of what we’re going to be doing this September next week. It’s a review-a-palooza, which I’m really looking forward to doing. We’re going to be reviewing three different five-stock samplers from the past. I will be having some of my talented analysts join me to discuss Five Stocks Indistinguishable From Magic, which was picked on September 2nd of last year, one year ago; two years ago, this month, Five Stocks With A Tailwind Blow. We’ll see how those stocks are doing, and finally, three years ago, that means we’ll be closing out this five-stock sampler next week, Five MmMm Good Stocks, so Five Mm-MM Good Stocks, Five Stocks With A Tailwind Blow, Five Stocks Indistinguishable From Magic, all coming to you next week. A little later this month, since it is one of those quarterly months, we’ll be playing the market cap game show, so a lot of fun in the month ahead.
Which I guess then calls to mind whether this week’s podcast will be fun or not. On the face of it, laws and rules don’t sound like the way that you and I might want to spend our time during a 45-minute jog or cutting the lawn, or driving somewhere. But I’m going to try to make it fun. I think our title, I Fought The Law (And The Law Won), does bring, I think, a modicum of fun to this week’s topic. Let’s talk this week about laws. But before we get to laws, let’s talk about rules first. The main difference between rules and laws, as my googling revealed earlier today, is the consequences of breaking them. You fight rules, you break them, you just might have improved the world forever. Maybe you knocked out a Goliath as you broke the rules, as you fought the rules, you replaced him with something better. In the same way that streaming video has ultimately replaced a few generations later VHS tapes. You fight rules, you break them, you can breakthrough, and breakthroughs power so much of our culture and our world today. That’s fighting rules. But you fight laws, you break them, and the consequences are, well, not going to be good. Breaking rocks in the hot sun is a great example of the consequence of fighting the law. What I wanted to do this week is introduce to you some of the more eternal verities, some of the things that, like physics, are going to be true, not just for your whole life, but really in my mind for all of eternity.
While not every one of the laws we’ll be covering this week has that kind of depth to it, that’s more of the gravitas that I’m bringing. The laws that are going to define our existence, which are different from the rules that are a little bit more temporal and a little bit more personal and often are worth breaking in the right context. Over the course of almost seven years of doing this podcast now, I’ve occasionally come across some of these, some of these came in for mailbags. I have collected this list of six “laws” to share with you, because each of them caught my attention at the time and I thought, that’s great, let’s park that, and let’s one day do a podcast entitled I Fought The Law and The Law Won. Here we are in September of 2021.
For each of the laws we’ll cover this week, I have four quick sections. The first is, what is the name of the law and what is the law in a few words? The second is, who proposed it? A little bit of the history behind it. The third, additional thoughts that you and I can share about these laws, and the fourth would be my Foolish takeaway. I’m conscious that this is all me talking to you. But of course, at the end of every month in this podcast, you have an opportunity to talk back to me. If you can make me smarter, happier, and richer about anything material recovering this week, you’ll have that opportunity later this month. I will always remind you that our email address is email@example.com. You can always drop us a note for our mailbag at the end of every month.
Again, six “laws,” each of them were going to explain them, talk about the history, further thinking, and a Foolish takeaway. Let’s do them in the order of the sublime to the silly, the sublime to the ridiculous. We’re going to start with something serious. We’re going to start with investing, and then over the course of the podcast, maybe you get distracted, you can’t listen to the whole thing this week. Don’t worry, you’re just missing the silly stuff at the end.
Let’s kick it off then with law No. 1. Really, this one’s a rule and I think a lot of investors will already know it, but I wanted to talk some and reflect about the rule of 72. Now, raise your hand — as long as you’re not driving a car right now — raise your hand if you already know the rule of 72. I’m looking out across the entire earth right now, and I see a lot of hands up of listeners of this podcast, because the rule of 72 is a simple mathematical way to know how much time it takes for your money to double over time, based on the rate of return that you are earning. It’s a simplified formula that just calculates how long it’s going to take for an investment to double in value based on its rate of return. You take 5th-grade math here, friends, you take 72 as your numerator, and then you make your rate of return, the denominator, and the result is the number of years it takes to double your money. If you’re in 7% return, your initial investment 72/7, will double in just about 10 years.
Now, an early reference to this rule, talking about the history of it, which I certainly didn’t know, is in the Summa de Arithmetica, which was published in Venice in 1494 from Luca Pacioli, who lived from 1445 to 1514. He presents the rule in a discussion regarding the estimation of the doubling time of an investment. Yep, they were thinking about that 600 years ago too. But he doesn’t actually drive or explain the rule, and it is assumed since he just refers to it, that the rule predates Pacioli by some time. It is just approximate, the actual math isn’t precise, but it is very helpful.
Now, just some Foolish takeaways about the Rule of 72. The first is the stock market traditionally has returned 9% or 10%, take out a little fee, even in your index fund, I’d like to say 9%. If you think about it, then the money that you’re saving, 72/9 doubles roughly every eight years in the American stock market. Now, if you can get a 10% return, all of a sudden, you’re doubling your money every seven years. Our company, The Motley Fool, is premised on the idea that you and I can actually beat the market’s traditional rate of return. The math, since this is a very mathy point here with law No. 1, the Rule of 72, the math is so important, not just the simple digits, but to compound them over time. Again, if you can do a 9% rate of return every eight years, your money will double. If you could do a 10% rate of return, every seven years your money will double. If you could exceed that with a 12% rate of return every six years your money will double. I’m very happy to say that the returns of Motley Fool Stock Advisor, or the returns of the Rule Breaker portfolio from AOL days that predated that, basically, I have been able to compound at about 20.7% over 27-ish years.
Let’s talk about the mathematical implications of that. The Motley Fool’s been going for about, well, just about 27 or 28 years now. If you’re with me, an index fund, we’ll just say, rounds up to 10%, that would be double your money every seven years. If you read The Motley Fool early days, and we’re talking about index funds, and how much we like Jack Bogle, which we always have, and we miss him dearly, you’ll know that you would have doubled your money four times over the history of The Motley Fool because we’ve been around for about 28 years. If you’re earning that market return for the U.S. stock market, you’re going to be doubling every seven years or so. Double, double, double, double, that means 2^4. That means your money would be up 16 times from the initial investment that you made in the S&P 500 starting 28 years ago, you’ve had four doubles.
Now, it’s one thing to hear the word double, but when you double, double, double, and double again, that’s where things start to get logarithmic. By contrast, earning a rate of return of just over 20% does this to the math, which I hope, open surmise. Whether or not this is replicable over the next 27 years, I’ll just say, “Let’s make sure we understand the math, and teach it to our children.” If you can earn a rate of return of 20-21%, that’s doubling your money about every 3.5 years. Which means over the course of the roughly 27.5 years that we’ve picked Motley Fool Stock Advisor, etc., we have had eight doubles. Quick math already suggested for us that four doubles on top of each other brings your money up to a 16x return. But if you double that again, it’s 32. Double it a sixth time, that’s 64. Double it a seventh time, that’s 128. Double it an eighth time, that is 256 times your initial money. While on the face of it, eight doubles sounds like just twice as many as four doubles. I hope we’re not too deep into the math for most of my listeners. It’s actually substantially more than double. It’s the equivalent of a 256x return versus a 16x return, which is why I think it’s so important to study and understand our Rule Breaker Investing principles, and what The Motley Fool stood for since the first day we printed our first page of our print newsletter back in July of 1993. That is, it is possible to beat the market averages. In fact, if you play the game the right way, you’re very likely to. The Rule of 72 gets really exciting when you can return 12%, 15%, or 20% annualized, especially over long periods of time.
One other thing I’d like to say before we move onto law No. 2, final concluding thought, don’t get too caught up in the math or hoping to estimate. I would never have been able to estimate what our annualized rate of return would’ve been 27 years ago going forward. I tend not to be, and I hope you won’t tend to be somebody who targets specific rates of return. A lot of this will come down to how the market overall does, we’re just trying to beat the market. But I think at the heart of The Motley Fool, and I hope you, as a fellow Fool would understand, it absolutely is possible to exceed the market averages, especially when you’re playing the long game. Part of the beauty of this compounding is we tend to buy and not really sell. There aren’t a lot of transaction costs or paying of taxes as we go, which is a big reason why stocks like Netflix, Amazon, Tesla, and the list goes on, 10+ year holdings roll up to these big numbers. Some of the five stock samplers we’ll be reviewing next week are racking up some pretty sweet returns, even just over three-year periods. While any three-year period could be up or down, I hope it’s inspiring to see the performance of finding the best companies of your time, taking part ownership, and owning them. If the numerator is always going to be 72, the higher you can speed up that denominator, the faster your money grows over time.
Let’s move on to law No. 2. This one is an actual law, it’s Gresham’s law, one of my favorites. Simply stated, Gresham’s law, the bad money drives out the good. Now, this law was named in 1860 by economist Henry Dunning Macleod after Sir Thomas Gresham, who also lived hundreds of years ago, 1519-1579. Gresham, an English financier, during the Tudor dynasty. Gresham had urged Queen Elizabeth to restore confidence in the then debased English currency. The concept though was known centuries earlier, classical antiquity, medieval Europe, the Middle East, and China. A lot of these go way back before somebody had his or her name put to it. Gresham’s law: what is bad money and what is good money? Well, if you equate paper money to metal money, Gresham’s law reads basically, assuming the metal is worth a little bit more than the paper, even if you say they’re all $1, the metal will go. Because over the course of time, people will start to use paper for the dollar and hold back the metal that was worth a little bit more. In fact, in the U.S, before 1982, pennies did have copper. But somewhere around the mid ’80s, I started to notice pennies feel different. They’re a lot lighter now. That’s because today, pennies are copper-plated zinc, which is worth less. You don’t see many copper pennies around anymore because they have disappeared. Because the bad money, as Gresham’s law goes, has driven out the good.
How about half dollars? Yeah, even in my lifetime, I think it was around 1970, U.S. half dollars contained a little bit of silver in them. Before 1970, I think that included up to 90% of the half dollar was silver. It declined to only be above 40%. But all along, the U.S. government was saying this equates to a half dollar. I probably should have held on to my silver half dollars, although I’m not a big fan of metals in general. But once again, the bad money, the cheaper metal, the diluted metal, the paper replacing the metal, drives out the good. I want to talk about Gresham’s law in the context of the Internet in a sec, which is really what interest me most, but it is worth wondering aloud about cryptocurrencies today and what the implications of bad money driving out the good might be for cryptocurrencies. It may well be that cryptocurrencies represent the new bad money, and some of the dollars that we used to prize as Americans, whether they were half dollars in silver or paper dollars, could start to be sequestered or amassed by those who don’t regard cryptocurrency as particularly good money. It’s also possible the opposite could happen. That cryptocurrencies or some of them anyway in time could be regarded as the good money and we won’t see too many coins or dollars anymore. In fact, the war on cash, a phrase that Jason Moser of Motley Fool fame has used for many years now, is in some ways a representation of Gresham’s law. We see less and less physical money anymore, because it’s not as attractive as electronic money, which is so much more accessible. Therefore, increasingly I find myself not having a lot of cash on me. What about you? I don’t carry anything like what I used to carry in my wallet or in my pockets. I really don’t use coins anymore, Gresham’s law.
Before we move on to law No. 3, I do just want to talk about Gresham’s law in the context of an online community. Early days for The Motley Fool, as we began to build a community, we invested a lot of time and effort in our discussion boards. We had staff members there. We policed our discussion boards if somebody put down a foul-worded poster, an angry sentiment, we would often send it back to the person and let them know, “Hey, we pulled that down from our discussion boards because that violated our rules of service and our rules of civility and Foolish behavior.” I think we did a great job managing our online community, because Gresham’s law isn’t just about currency. Bad people will also drive out the good. Forget about online communities in almost any community of any kind. Have you noticed this? If a toxic person or group of people or voices start to show up, the first people generally to exit will be some of the best people who no longer want to hang around in that kind of a context. I think that that’s one of the reasons The Motley Fool community has for many years been regarded as a strong community, one that’s vibrant, that you want to be a part of because of the efforts that we’ve put into overseeing our discussion boards. In managing online communities of any kind, I see Gresham’s law in place where bad people will drive out good people, just like bad money will drive out good money. There’s law No. 2 for you, Gresham’s law.
Let’s move on to law No. 3. Law No. 3, this one applies more to business than the world of investing or money. It’s Parkinson’s law. Now, you may not recognize right off the top the name Parkinson’s law, I’m sure some of you will, but the concept behind Parkinson’s law I think we can all relate to, which is why I wanted to highlight it this week. Parkinson’s law states, in so many words, that work expands so as to fill the time given it. Now, this was first articulated, my friend Wikipedia lets me know, by Cyril Northcote Parkinson, as part of the first sentence of an essay that was published in The Economist magazine in 1955. It has since been republished online. Anyway, it was reprinted with other essays in the book, Parkinson’s law, The Pursuit of Progress, which was published in 1958.
Parkinson derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the British civil service. I’ll talk about that in a second, but work expands so as to fill the time given it. I think a lot of us can recognize that if you’re a procrastinator, like I am sometimes, you realize you can make your work take as much or we’ll get to this in a second, as little time as you’d like, but a lot of it is under your control. I’m thinking especially last month in our conversation with Michael Bungay Stanier, Do More Great Work. I’m reminded of the great importance of trying to make sure we’re assigning the right amount of time to the level of work that we’re undertaking. I want to put as much time as I can into my great work. I want to spend as little time as possible doing my bad work and even sometimes just my good work. I hope still with your August Authors and August glasses on, you’re able to see Parkinson’s law and recognize how important it is to be self conscious about that and self-aware about the time that you’re spending or I’m spending at this or that task.
Now, Parkinson stumbled upon this concept because he worked within the British civil service and as the British empire began to shrink in the middle of last century, Britain began giving away its colonial holdings. All the sudden, the number of employees at the colonial office was ever increasing. He started wondering, well, why is this happening? He explained the growth using two forces. The first is, he said an official wants to multiply his subordinates, not his rivals, kind of an important concept. The second is that officials make work for each other. When you have those two forces that he observed in place, you can see how bureaucracies can tend to expand, and indeed bureaucracy, in a lot of contexts, has expanded for long periods of time over the course of the last 50 or 60 years since Parkinson first articulated his law. Before we move on to law No. 4, I just want to say about this one that there is a corollary and it’s named the Stock-Sanford Corollary to Parkinson’s law. Now, I try to research whose Stock and Sanford were, the Internet didn’t help me. If one of my talented listeners wants to let me know by the end of the month who exactly Stock and Sanford were, I’d love to know, but I do love this corollary. The Stock-Sanford Corollary to Parkinson’s law reads like this: if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do. I think that is both a hilarious twist on Parkinson’s law and something again that we can all relate to. I guess before we move on to law No. 4, I just want to remind you that you really are to a greater rather than lesser extent in control of your own time, even if you’re working for somebody else. How you spend your time is precious, and sometimes it is actually smart to wait until the last minute so that your work only takes a minute to do. That might somewhat have informed my preparation for this week’s podcast.
I suppose I should also observe that the time that you spend researching stocks, you can spend all day everyday researching stocks if you want to, but you can also greatly limit that time. In my own career, I found that designing your process very intentionally, which I did over the 27 years I picked stocks, was very helpful. You can design it so that you don’t spend any more time than this, or you force yourself to make a decision earlier. This doesn’t just work, by the way, for stock market investing research, but since that’s particularly relevant to this podcast, I’m giving that as an example. Remember, you’re in control of your time, which is very important to remember when I say back to you with Parkinson that your work will expand so as to fill the time given it.
Law No. 4, Betteridge’s law. Raise your hands worldwide if you recognize Betteridge’s law, and I don’t see nearly so many hands up for this one. It’s a reminder that most of the important ones we’ve already covered, we’re going to start getting a little silly now, but also stay, I hope, on point: smarter, happier, richer. Let’s talk about Betteridge’s law. Here it is: any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no.” This one comes from a living British tech journalist named Ian Betteridge. The year was 2009 when he discussed this in an article. He’d examined a previous TechCrunch article that carried the headline, Did Last.fm Just Hand Over User Listening Data to the RIAA?. Now, that’s a rather obscure headline relative to most of the Betteridge law-driven headlines that I see these days. But that’s how it all started. Now, within that story by Betteridge, I’m just going to quote a little bit of the story. He writes, “This story is a great demonstration of my max and that any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no.” The reason why journalists use that style of headline,” Betteridge wrote, “is that they know the story is probably BS and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but they still want to run it.”
Now, Wikipedia goes on and mentions that there was a similar observation made by British newspaper editor Andrew Maher five years earlier in his 2004 book, My Trade. Amongst some of the suggestions for how readers should interpret newspaper articles, Maher wrote and I quote, “If the headline asks a question, try answering ‘no.'” Is this the true face of Britain’s young, sensible reader? No. Have we found a cure for AIDS? No. Or you wouldn’t have put the question mark in. Does this map provide the key for peace? Probably not. A headline with a question mark at the end means in the vast majority of cases that the story is tendentious or oversold, it’s often a scare story or an attempt to elevate some run-of-the-mill piece of reporting into a national controversy and preferably a national panic. To a busy journalist hunting for real information, a question mark means,” and I quote Maher here, “Don’t bother reading this bit.”
A few reflections about Betteridge’s law. First of all, this is the second law in a row that the Brits have come up with. Parkinson himself was British, Parkinson’s law. Here we have Betteridge’s law and another cynical Brit. I think you have to hand it to these Brits. I love both of these laws. I think The Motley Fool, as a media and marketing organization, has put its fair share of headlines with question marks out there. I’m not sure I’m about to change our organization’s approach, or in fact, the world of media through this podcast and popularizing what Betteridge has taught us. But I do want for each of you, my dear listeners, I do want to save you some time in life. I think the last time we spent reading stories that have question marks at the end of their headlines, probably, the more time we have for higher pursuits in life. I certainly like a good Motley Fool story, just like I like good stories from The Economist or TechCrunch. But I do think in my effort to make you smarter, happier, and richer, dear Fool and dear listener, I think I can make you a little bit smarter here and suggest that not only do you not spend too much time reading articles with headlines ending in a question mark, but maybe not too much time with online news, overall.
This week I realized it’s a little too soon to say this, but I’m thinking that Hurricane Ida, which came through New Orleans, and 16 years ago on the very same-day, tragically, Hurricane Katrina ruined a lot of lives, but I think there was a lot of expectation that Ida, which was fiercer by the numbers, that Hurricane Katrina would end up being a real disaster in a lot of the media and the hype built up ahead of time suggested that. I found myself tuning in even though I was in Italy at the time, somewhat fascinated by Hurricane Ida. There’s a little bit, and all of us I think we have to admit, that watching auto racing, watching for, expecting, maybe even hoping for this is not a great part of human nature, crashes. I think a lot of that is rolled into stories like Ida this week, but upon rolling past New Orleans, where it certainly has done meaningful damage, it quickly lost speed as now tropical storm Ida, and not many people are talking about it anymore. Which reminds me, this point isn’t about Ida, it’s about hurricane reporting and weather reporting more generally, but I have generally stopped paying attention to the hurricane stories, because there’s always another one every week throughout the summer and fall here in the United States. There are a few meaningful ones and it’s very sad when they happen. But boy, if the media doesn’t want us to spend a lot of time reading stories about what might happen, often stories that end with question marks. Before we move onto law No. 5, I just want to end this point by asking, could this week’s podcast be once and for all a cure, for all that ills us?
Onto law No. 5. This one I’ve known about for a long time. If you’re an internet user, perhaps you have as well, it’s Godwin’s law. Godwin’s law simply stated, and I’m quoting here, “As an online discussion grows longer regardless of topic or scope, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches one.” In less mathematical terms, the longer the discussion, the more likely a Nazi comparison becomes, and with long enough discussions, somewhat tongue-in-cheek here, it is a certainty. It rounds to one. Now this one was promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990. It was about, I think it was the first set of maybe Usenet, newsgroups, early days for Internet forums. Yet, I think that Godwin saw something. I guess in the same way that through law No. 4 this week, Betteridge’s law, where I encourage you to not spend too much time with the online news, I sure have spent less time over the last five years and I think I led a happier and more productive life, I think it’s also true of comments on Internet articles, comments at the bottom of blogs.
Before we go on to law No. 6, ultimately, I think Godwin’s law is teaching us that we shouldn’t let things go so long, that the longer they go the less valuable, and maybe like this podcast this week, the sillier they’ll probably get, perhaps as a human tendency to go to extremes once we’ve blown out a discussion over too long a time. Well, yeah, Nazis too.
Let’s move on to law No. 6. Earlier I said “law” in quotes for this podcast, because arguably not every one of these six is a law, but they’re all truisms, they’re all insights, they’re all tools that I’m filling up your toolbox with this week, I hope some new tools that you can use to lead a better life. How could I not close then with RAS syndrome? Now, this is one I specifically learned about because of this podcast. I was guilty of RAS syndrome. One of you, I can’t remember who you were, it was a few years ago, but thank you. Raise your hand and send me a note for this month’s mailbag, if you like, and I’ll call you out. But I made a mistake at one point. I said the phrase, I think it was “ATM machine.” One of my fellow Fools said, “Oh, Dave, you’ve been a victim of RAS syndrome, I see.” RAS syndrome, what is it? Well, first of all, it stands for “redundant acronym syndrome” syndrome. RAS syndrome, the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym in conjunction with the abbreviated form. ATM machine: since ATM stands for “automated teller machine,” you and I shouldn’t say, don’t need to say “ATM machine.” I suppose you could if you like, but then you were guilty of RAS syndrome. If you just thought about your pin number, well, guess what, you just did it again. You mean your personal identification number number?
Let me conclude with a few more examples, these all pulled from Wikipedia. Thank you, Wikipedia, for this week’s podcast. DC Comics; I didn’t realize that, but yeah, Detective Comics Comics. Here’s another one: HIV virus, human immunodeficiency virus virus. Two more for you: LCD display, liquid crystal display display, and UPC code, universal product code code.
You’ve stayed with me all the way through this week’s podcasts and you’ve gotten smarter. You now know RAS syndrome. Let’s briefly summarize the six “laws” that we covered this week. No. 1, the rule of 72, divide your rate of return into 72 to see how many years it’ll take your money to double. No. 2, Gresham’s law, bad money and people sometimes will drive out the good. No. 3, Parkinson’s law. Work will expand to fill the time you give it, but never forget that sometimes very helpful, Stock-Sanford, whoever they are, corollary: if you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do. No. 4, Betteridge’s law: any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no.” Let me ask you again, could this week’s podcast be for once and for all, a cure for all that ills us? No. 5, Godwin’s law, as an online discussion grows longer regardless of topic or scope, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches one. Finally, just covered No. 6, RAS syndrome, the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym, in conjunction with the abbreviated form. To close, rules, we look at a scans. Rules I question. Quite profitably, thank you very much many times. By profitably, I don’t just mean expressed in dollars, as my life has in many ways been enriched by breaking rules, sometimes making some new ones. But laws I respect, I think you should too. I Fought The Law (And The Law Won). Laws are ignored at our own peril. I hope you’ve walked away with some new learnings this week, new tools for your Foolish toolbox, that will make you smarter, happier, and richer. Law on.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.