Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Remind me not to marry a broker

Much as I hate to post one of Yahoo!news' most forwarded stories, I cannot resist this one:

Psychopaths could be best financial traders?

A team of U.S. scientists has found the emotionally impaired are more willing to gamble for high stakes and that people with brain damage may make good financial decisions, the Times newspaper reported Monday.

In a study of investors' behavior 41 people with normal IQs were asked to play a simple investment game. Fifteen of the group had suffered lesions on the areas of the brain that affect emotions.

The result was those with brain damage outperformed those without.

The scientists found emotions led some of the group to avoid risks even when the potential benefits far outweighed the losses, a phenomenon known as myopic loss aversion.

One of the researchers, Antione Bechara, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Iowa, said the best stock market investors might plausibly be called "functional psychopaths."
I'm thinking this also explains that old expression "lucky at cards, unlucky at love." I was just mulling that aphorism over the other day and thinking, "You know--I really should visit my Vegas friends and try my hand at the poker or blackjack tables. I believe there is money to be made." And then I started wondering about that expression and what it was really saying. But this article about traders brings it home to me. Normal people have "loss aversion," myopic or not. They never really cash in on the big jackpots for the same reason they run out of the burning building or determine not to become a lion tamer. People like me, on the other hand, view romance like this: wouldn't it be really cool if the whole building burned down and somehow I escaped unscathed?

In my defense, I look at it this way: success in love seems like such a longshot that it feels like winning Powerball. Once every blue moon I buy a ticket, but I never buy more than one because buying a ticket to begin with is such a ridiculous act of optimism that I always figure if it's my time, it's my time. There is no real way to make the odds anything other than astro-fucking-nomical so why try. This is the attitude with which I make my dating decisions as well. Okay, maybe he's a little unstable and has a history of this or that. But what the hey--if it's my time, it's my time.

I'm thinking I really should try my hand at investing.

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