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I've got some observations about the role of intelligence vs. temperament in investment success and a suggested test:

1. Most of what we refer to as “smart” more closely reflects a person's work ethic. The “smartest” students in class typically turn out to be the hardest working. The amount of native intelligence required to become rich is fairly modest. Lots and lots of people are more than smart enough to be rich, but very few ever become rich.

2. The correlation is very high between the amount of useful education one accomplishes and annual income. The data to support this assertion is simply overwhelming. For example, according to a recent government report, working adults ages 25 to 64 earned an average of $34,700 per year.6 Average earnings ranged from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates, and $99,300 for workers with professional degrees (M.D., J.D., D.D.S., or D.V.M.). Workers with professional degrees (MBAs included) have the highest average earnings. Unfortunately, the popular result is that most people spend all their income no matter how large or small that amount.

See http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/p23-210.pdf

3. The correlation is positive, but much lower than you might expect between the amount of useful education one has accomplished and the amount of wealth accumulated. Highly educated people have more income to work with, but wealth-creating activity is much different than income-producing activity. Wealth creation requires what one might call a productive and purposeful personality that accepts, or even prefers, delayed gratification. I'm not sure such a temperament can be taught. I've tried to teach it with very little success. Some neuro scientists believe we are hard wired with or without such a temperament.

See: http://www.wireheading.com/article/

THE COOKIE TEST: Go to the store and buy a bag of your favorite cookies. When you get home, suppose you open the bag and see that one on top is broken. The rest are fine. Which cookie do you eat first?

1. The broken cookie. Bingo! You have chosen to suffer now in return for the prospect of a future of unbroken cookies. You not only accept delayed gratification, you may even prefer it. You have a real shot at getting rich.

2. Any unbroken cookie. Too bad. You aren't in for delayed gratification. Sorry, but it won't be easy for you to get rich. It probably won't happen.

Mark
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"THE COOKIE TEST: Go to the store and buy a bag of your favorite cookies. When you get home, suppose you open the bag and see that one on top is broken. The rest are fine. Which cookie do you eat first?"

You need to add a category for just reaching your hand into the bag and grabbing a handful of cookies, probably breaking some of them and then shoving the whole mass into your mouth. Perhaps we could say this is neither delayed gratification nor immediate gratification, but rather just throwing gratification out the window and ingesting the cookies at a maximum rate. So people who do this must end up extremely wealthy.

DeliLama
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You need to add a category for just reaching your hand into the bag and grabbing a handful of cookies, probably breaking some of them and then shoving the whole mass into your mouth. Perhaps we could say this is neither delayed gratification nor immediate gratification, but rather just throwing gratification out the window and ingesting the cookies at a maximum rate. So people who do this must end up extremely wealthy.

DeliLama


I would also recommend mandatory drug testing in this scenario.

http://83.216.135.129/brikistan/ganja%20scientist.gif
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THE COOKIE TEST: Go to the store and buy a bag of your favorite cookies. When you get home, suppose you open the bag and see that one on top is broken. The rest are fine. Which cookie do you eat first?



This is easy. The broken cookies because they don't have calories.


-Jim
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What if I:

1) grind the cookies (broken and unbroken) into a powder, pile it up in front of a picture of Warren Buffett, set it on fire, then strip naked and dance around it?

2) write a 200 line, single paragraph Motley Fool post about the sudden revelation I had about how broken and unbroken cookies relate to investing, bringing in choice aphorisms from Buffett and Munger along the way? ("The only reason we're eating cookies today is that someone had the foresight to bake them yesterday." "Buy only cookies that an idiot can eat, because someday one will." "When teeth with a reputation for chewing encounter a cookie with a reputation for unchewability, it is the reputation of the cookie that will emerge intact." "Price is what you pay, Oreos are what you get." "We don't get paid for activity, just for eating cookies. As for how long we'll eat them, we'll eat indefinitely." "Eat cookies when others are drinking milk; drink milk when others are eating cookies.")

3) tape the bag closed, paste a picture of Patrick Byrne on it, and drop-kick it over and over around my office while yelling "I got your binomial marketing experiment right here!"?

4) take the cookies back and complain about the defective one?

What would those actions, singly or in groups, say about me as an investor, I wonder?

UsuallyReasonable
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full disclosure - long brk (just the b's)

okay ur, #3 is just down right funny, i'm still laughing and i'm long the stock.

later
cb
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Many good cookie choices in this thread.

How about the dog steals cookie bag makes mess, kid wants cookies.

gnos
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Give the test to your wives & daughters, fellas.

Did a single one opt for the broken cookie?

Didn't think so.

ET [eats all the broken ones, then some that aren't just to feel both admirable and rewarded]

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Someone didn't get his milk and cookies before nap time, did he?

PP
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Very funny post, UR.
Very funny gift, ET

...this place is really entertaining...
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I wish I could quit you.
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Stay away from those cookies, UR. We have a weigh in approaching.
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Well I eat the broken cookie first, but then I eat the whole bag.

Got Milk?

eag

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I always eat the broken cookie but not for the reasons cited. I eat the broken one thinking that I am going to eat less of something I try not to consume. My reason has nothing to do with delayed gratification.
Of course, I usually proceed to consume unbroken ones as well so my original theory is shot.
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THE COOKIE TEST: Go to the store and buy a bag of your favorite cookies. When you get home, suppose you open the bag and see that one on top is broken. The rest are fine. Which cookie do you eat first?

1. The broken cookie. Bingo! You have chosen to suffer now in return for the prospect of a future of unbroken cookies. You not only accept delayed gratification, you may even prefer it. You have a real shot at getting rich.

2. Any unbroken cookie. Too bad. You aren't in for delayed gratification. Sorry, but it won't be easy for you to get rich. It probably won't happen.



I ate the whole bag. Urrrrhb.

What was the question?

-Rubic
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Interesting and funny thread. I eat the broken one first as well. I also have an inkling to eat the heels of a loaf of bread with the first sandwich, which I sometimes follow through on.

Jason
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UsuallyReasonable,

Touche.

Funny reply.

Mark
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1. The broken cookie. Bingo! You have chosen to suffer now in return for the prospect of a future of unbroken cookies. You not only accept delayed gratification, you may even prefer it. You have a real shot at getting rich.

That's me. I eat the broken cookie first. Then I eat the rest of the cookies in the bag.

I'm going to be rich AND fat!

R:
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