Osama Bin Laden’s personality traits made him a detestable human being. He most likely would have been an atrocious investor if he would have gravitated toward the field of finance instead of mass murder. Bin Laden constantly sought the reaffirmation of his crazed beliefs. This eventually sealed his fate. This is not unlike the poor results of many investors who refuse to view the markets in an objective manner.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently publicized a list of books favored by this fanatic. They were captured in the pre-dawn raid that led to his much deserved demise. Three common themes could be found in the terrorist’s library. America was evil and the source of all world problems. Islam is the only true religion. Most major historic and economic events could be explained by conspiracy theories.
The titles of many of the 29 books that were released by the government back up these narratives. Imperial Hubris, In Pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure, Killing Hope- U.S. Military and C.I.A Interventions since W.W.II, The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, and New Pearl Harbor Disturbing Questions about the Bush administration and 9/11 were common themes.
These books all confirm Bin Laden’s world view. In Psychology, the term explaining this is known as confirmation bias. This is the idea that people often seek out others who completely agree with them and confirm their presently held convictions.
This cognitive bias slams the door shut on all alternative explanations and opinions. It also leads to something else called cognitive dissonance. This term can be explained by the idea that people can hold a powerfully strong core belief. Evidence refuting this would cause them to rationalize and deny even the most irrefutable of facts.
These books obviously reinforced Bin Laden’s warped view of the world. Eventually this closed mindedness helped lead to his own demise. Bin laden felt America was a declining world power filled with immoral infidels. This caused him to underestimate U.S. resilience and persistency. The result of his hubris was a well placed bullet to the head delivered by an elite military unit.
Bin Laden’s confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance also has lead to the decline of the organization he founded, Al-Qaeda. His inability to adapt to new circumstance’s has enabled ISIS to overtake Al- Qaeda as the worlds largest exporter of mass murder.
While it would be insensitive and inaccurate to compare the majority of bin Laden’s personality traits to bad investors, there is one commonality. They both tend to be very rigid in their beliefs despite the changing conditions on the ground. Instead of admitting their errors and changing strategy when they are obviously wrong, they dig in even further.
This can be seen in recent times by those who mindlessly continue to bet big on gold to soar, hyper- inflation to emerge, or the U.S. dollar to collapse. Many of these people have been wrong for years and continue to lose money for their clients and themselves.
They refuse to admit error and often when asked about their horrendous predictions, they use the excuse that “they are just a little early but not wrong.” While Bin Laden’s fanaticism and arrogance lead to his well deserved demise, Investors who display these traits will oversee the destruction of their portfolios and those of their clients.
We can safely say that possessing these qualities will have a very negative effect on your life and those around you. If you combine this with a sociopathic personality found in people like Bin Laden or Adolph Hitler, the results will be exponentially more devastating.
Unfortunately most people who are afflicted with these cognitive bias’ lack to the capacity to evaluate themselves in an objective manner. They never change and as they get older. Their beliefs become even more ingrained.
In the words of Jason Zweig, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.”