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What Fools Aren't:

1. Wall Street analysts, who often have inherent biases because the companies that they analyze may be clients of the brokerage company that pays the analyst's salary (resulting in overly optimistic earnings projections and the near absence of "sell" recommendations, until recently). Incidentally, the correct pronunciation should be "anal" yst.

2. Auditors who, until recently, commingled their consulting and auditing divisions (again, resulting in potential conflicts of interest).

What Fools Are:

1. Others like you. They are investors who wander through the dense financial forest, but bring a universe of different life experiences and skills to the task. Few have agendas in conflict with yours, although some may be misguided.

2. Critical thinkers. Because of the above, Fools listen to everyone, but blindly follow no one. After weighing the options, they blaze their own path through the brambles. Discussion Boards are "sounding boards" - you collect kernels of wisdom and discard the chaff.

3. A community. I've seen the community advise new graduates on which first steps to take toward financial security (based on lifetimes of experience), warn of specific financial scams, pray for and console strangers in the aftermath of September 11 (with no discussion of how to profit from calamity) while offering different historical points of view, ranging from WWII to the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. The Fool community provides perspective, whether relating to finance, football, or Foolanthropy.

The Post that I think typifies the quite strength of the Fool community, and was meaningful to me as a retiree, was posted by rclyde on 9-23-01 (Subject: Can I Stay Retired?). The flames of terrorism combined with a plunging stock market left many retirees fearful and uncertain in the weeks that followed. Amid considerable discussion on the "Retired Fools" board, rclyde reminded us of some basic Foolish tenets:

1. Emotion should never govern investment.
2. Nothing beats forethought and planning.
3. Long term investing means staying focused on the path through the forest.

I wish to commend rclyde for his cool, cogent advice during troubled times. You may read his post in its entirety at URL:

Foolishly yours,
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