The Great Depression Online




Great Depression Online Archive Issue:

Beware of Prophets -- Part 1 of 2

Great Depression Online
Long Beach, CA
December 04, 2007

Inside This Issue You Will Discover…

*** A Riddle of Human Nature
*** A New Theory
*** Prophecy of the Apocalypse
*** And More

“Not less conspicuous is the preponderance of nature over will in all practical life.”  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spiritual Laws

A Riddle of Human Nature

A riddle of human nature is the desire to control the uncontrollable.  The weather…seasonal flu viruses…the business cycle.  We find comfort in the illusion that these have been tamed – or that they can be predicted with certainty.

But the weather man is often wrong.  The flu shot ends up getting you sick.  And a fund manager that consistently beats the market is as rare as an honest used car salesman.  Yet we still try with futility.  Buy low; sell high.  It sounds so easy.

And each individual must deal with this unsettling riddle in their own way. 

Some run for public office to correct perceived inequities.  They enact laws for wealth redistribution and concoct grand social engineering schemes – the unintended consequences often make things worse.  Others turn to science for answers to the universe.  The sinister become central bankers.  A humble man, recognizing his limits, puts his faith in God to reconcile life’s mysteries.

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A New Theory

In 1696, William Whiston wrote a book.  It was called “A New Theory of the Earth from its Original to the Consummation of all Things.”  In it he proclaimed that the global flood of Noah had been caused by a comet.  Mr. Whiston took his book very serious.  And the good people of London took it very serious too.  The only problem was that he was a mountebank of the highest order.

If he had lived today, he would have gone to Wall Street to apply his trade to the cause of separating fools from their money.  He likely would have won a Nobel Prize for developing an elaborate pricing model.  It would have worked just great until it didn’t -- and his hedge fund blew up.

But in the time of William Whiston, elaborate pricing models weren’t all the rage.  It seems prophecies of the Apocalypse had greater market share in his day.

For in 1736 William Whiston could see the future.  And what he saw scared him mad.  He barked…and ranted…and foamed at the mouth to anyone who would listen.  Pretty soon he’d stirred up his neighbors.

How?

Prophecy of the Apocalypse

He prophesized that the world would be destroyed on October 13th of that year when a comet would collide with the earth.

Jonathan Swift, in his work, “A True and Faithful Narrative of What Passed in London on a Rumour of the Day of Judgment,” quoted William Whiston:

“Friends and fellow-citizens, all speculative science is at an end: the period of all things is at hand; on Friday next this world shall be no more.  Put not your confidence in me, brethren; for tomorrow morning, five minutes after five, the truth will be evident; in that instant the comet shall appear, of which I have heretofore warned you.  As ye have heard, believe.  Go hence, and prepare your wives, your families, and friends, for the universal change.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, William Wake, had to officially deny this prediction to ease the public consternation.  But it did little good.  Crowds gathered at Islington, Hampstead, and the surrounding fields, to witness the destruction of London, which was deemed the “beginning of the end.”

It never came.

Sincerely,

M.N. Gordon
Great Depression Online

P.S.  We’ll be back Friday with Part 2 of 2.  In the meantime, if you’re looking for both high yields and enormous capital gains, then you need to learn more about High Yield Investing.  This newsletter specializes in high-yield, income paying stocks.  In particular companies that pay rich dividends and deliver strong long-term capital gains.  Learn more here.

 

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