Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are Value Investors Religious?

I'm curious as to whether value investors are religious. If you're a value investor and are comfortable providing an anonymous answer in the totally unscientific poll on the right, please feel free to do so. I realize the question is ambiguous, as I'm basically just counting on you to define it as you wish. EDIT: The poll was closed after two weeks with "No" at 71% and "Yes" at 28%


Anonymous said...

I would bet that the percentage of religious people among value investors is significantly lower than among the entire population. The assumption being that value investors need to be skeptical in order to be contrarian.

john said...

I've thought about this a lot. The notion of blind faith is at odds with the extensive research and margin of safety that successful value investors require before making any investment. I personally am not religious.

Anonymous said...

"spiritual" should be the question and not "religious" in mu opinion.

Anonymous said...

No but I have an open mind and think that someone or something is steering this show

Ansgar John said...


Nate Tobik said...


Anonymous said...

Absolutely not.

Michael Wu said...

Yes. It is not hard to find humility in value investing and Christianity.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Vikas Rana said...

Good one Saj.

If one understands the depth of things, then religion is not a bad word..:-) ppl have just misused or hijacked it.

My answer to your question is:

""Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation."

Something to ponder upon..:-)

Anonymous said...

FWIW - I am very religious

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Sir John Templeton is. One is born into a religion, though one can renounce or switch later in life. Religious ppl can be value investors. He instituted the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion to remedy the Nobel Foundation's omission of religion. Coming from a renowned physicist Feynman, discussing conflicts of religion and science, said belief in god and science is consistent. Value investing is not even a science, its more art than science. Einstein says "All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom."

itwillfluctuate said...

Believers love to quote Einstein and count him on their side, probably hoping that his authority will make up for their lack of arguments. But (1) arguments from authority are worthless, and (2) Einstein wasn't on their side.

Two of his written, and verifiable, quotes:
“For me the Jewish religion like all others is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions”.

“The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention the source of earlier comments:
"The Templeton Touch" by William Proctor
"The Meaning of It All" by Richard P Feynman
"The World As I See It" by Albert Einstein

I do not see an option "Do not know/Do not understand" in the poll, I would have voted for it :)

Vern Cushenbery said...

Hey Saj,

Great question. For me personally, religion and value investing are entirely consistent.

I like to think of this in terms of Pascal's Wager (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal's_Wager):

The philosophy uses the following logic (excerpts from Pensées, part III, §233):

1) "God is, or He is not"

2) A Game is being played... where heads or tails will turn up.

3) According to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.

4) You must wager (it is not optional).

5) Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.

6) Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (...) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

7) But some cannot believe. They should then 'at least learn your inability to believe...' and 'Endeavour then to convince' themselves.

itwillfluctuate said...

Pascal's wager is a terrible argument, because:

1. You do loose quite a bit by believing in god: the time spent praying and at church, the moral responsibility you ceded to religious authorities (ISIS fighters), the ability to enjoy many aspects of life (premarital sex and contraceptives are sinful), etc.

2. If you choose the wrong god you, which is extremely likely given the profusion of gods, you're still doomed.

3. Would you really like to play the game of a god that's so petty that what he really cares about when you die is not how good or productive or loving you were, but whether you believed in him?

itwillfluctuate said...

Homer Simpson outsmarts Pascal: "Suppose we've chosen the wrong god. Every time we go to church we're just making him madder and madder!"

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