Have you lost money following advice from so-called experts? Well, Robert Moriarty is here to tell you that investing is not complicated and you can earn money every time by following his method. Learn the basics of investing with Robert as he joins Alicia Dunams in this episode. Over 50,000 readers a day trust Robert to show them which tactics work… and which ones don’t. His book, Nobody Knows Anything: Investing Basics Learn to Ignore the Experts, the Gurus and other Fools, tells you how to use your own knowledge and common sense to get reliable results every time. If you like easy-to-follow steps, down-to-earth strategies, and going against the grain, then just tune in and learn the simple formula to long-term investing success.
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Investing Basics: Ignore The So-Called Experts, It’s Not That Complicated With Robert Moriarty
I am super excited to announce our special guest. His name is Robert Moriarty, also known as Bob. He is a prolific writer, not only non-fiction, which we’ll be digging, but a fiction writer as well. He is the Founder of 321Gold.com. Bob, it’s so great to have you here.
It’s my great pleasure. I always love talking to you.
We’re going to be specifically talking about this book called Nobody Knows Anything: Investing Basics. We’ll give a mention of The Art of Peace, which is a fantastic book on the Vietnam War era and Bob’s specific biography or your autobiography around that or your memoir of that era. Also, you have What Became of the Crow?, which is inside the greatest gold discovery in history. We’re going to be focusing on this book. There’s a lot of books that people can go purchase on Amazon. Bob, without further ado, I would love to ask you, why did you start writing books?
You write because you have to. If you got a story to tell it and you want to tell a story to people, if you put it in writing, you can reach far more people.
It’s something that is on your heart. Specifically, when you decided, “I have to write this book, Nobody Knows Anything: Investing Basics,” what was on your heart at that moment because you’ve had some experience with investing?
Yes, but it’s my experience, both in the Marine Corps and after I got out of the Marine Corps. I had a strange career. I enlisted in the Marine Corps a week after I turned eighteen in September of 1964. The Gulf of Tonkin incident had occurred in August of 1964 and it was clear we were going to go to war. I went through boot camp and they came through and said anybody that could pass a two-year college equivalency test and had perfect vision that would like to apply for flight training could apply. Privates at the time made $78 a month, the second lieutenants with flight pay were making $405 a month. I thought about, “Which one would I rather do?” I signed up. I applied for flight training.
I got accepted for flight training. I go to Pensacola in the spring of 1965. I was a cadet. That was for pre-flight. We have classes on speed reading, how to balance a checkbook, how to read a bus schedule or an airline schedule, what insurance was and how to figure out interest rates. These are all things that every adult needs to know, but they don’t teach in school. Why don’t they teach people how to balance a checkbook? Why don’t they talk about insurance or speed reading? These are all valuable things.
You write because you have to.
I realized that in the military, they wanted broad base aviators and they wanted you to be able to speed read, understand insurance and balance a checkbook because these are all the easy things to learn. I go through six years in the Marine Corps. I came back and that’s what I went to college. I had never been on a college campus, never taken a college course, but my parents and everybody said, “If you’re going to have a good job in the future, you got to go to college.”
I was 23 before I started college. I went to the University of Texas and it bored me. I went to Southern Methodist and they had a great curriculum of required courses. One of the courses was a whole semester on what I consider the best investment book ever written, which is Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds. This is a book that was written in 1851. If you read the book, it was poorly written. It wasn’t laid out. It was repetitive, but the story was people are dumber than bricks. If you can determine what the mass of people want to do, you can profit by doing the opposite. Avoid being part of the mob.
Let me read the first quote. It’s one of the best quotes about experts that I’ve ever heard. Do you remember William Goldman? He’s the guy that wrote The Princess Bride. It was fabulous. Here’s a quote from him, “Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out, it’s a guess and if you are lucky, an educated one.” That is the theme of the book. The title is Nobody Knows Anything, which I stole from Goldman’s quote, but the subtitle is Learn to Ignore the Experts, the Gurus and Other Fools. We’ve been taught, “You need to listen to that experts.” But there aren’t any experts.
They drag these experts on the television. They travel. If you think about it, they don’t know very much. They’re good at selling themselves, but they don’t have anything to say of substance. The whole COVID nonsense is perfect because everything the experts have said from the very beginning was either a lie or it was dead wrong. We’re years into this fiasco and it’s getting worse.
It’s not getting better. There are no experts. There are no gurus. What I’m trying to do in the book is to teach people how to think for themselves with the ordinary knowledge that we all have. If you’ll ask yourself the right question, you’ll come up with the right answer. I’ll ask another trick question, “Which is more important, the question or the answer?”
I don’t know.
If you ask the wrong question, you’ll always get the wrong answer. This is a difference between the English education system and the American education system. In the American education system, you’re taught facts. In the British education system, they teach you to ask questions and that’s important. Especially nowadays, with so many critical things going on, the United States is making a bunch of noise about China and Russia.
We’re threatening them because they’re nasty people. Goat herders in Afghanistan walked over the United States in a twenty-year war where we spent $2.3 trillion. If we took that $2.3 trillion and paid for housing, student education or health, there’s so much so that we could have done with that. We poured it down a rat hole.
I want to stop you there because in your books, you’re a big proponent of peace and this speaks into this book, The Art of Peace, which is the memoir of your time in Vietnam. As you refer to this pull-out of the war in Afghanistan, which is in the news, no one knows anything. There’s a lot of people who pretend they know things and they’re experts, but we get to have critical thinking skills to be able to make the best decisions for ourselves and be critical with a critical eye and look at what decisions our government is making, politicians, etc. You empower your readers with that ability.
The strange thing is and what I’m trying to get across to my readers is I’m not a guru. I’m just showing people how to ask the questions that affects their life. Quite bluntly, if you’re talking about threatening China or Russia, you got into a bunfight that lasted twenty years with a bunch of goat herders. That’s exactly what the Afghans were. A bunch of goat herders whips the most powerful military in the world. If you don’t know what you’re doing, stop listening to the experts and do what makes sense.
What I love in chapter one of Nobody Knows Anything, you give an overview of the book, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. You give a nice overview and then you start getting into investing. Where did you get your investment experience? I know that you founded that 321Gold.com. Tell us a little bit about that. We’re going to be talking about some of your philosophies around investing. We want to put a little hashtag disclaimer in here that people get to have their own critical thinking and make the best-educated decisions around investing.
You get trained on how to think. It’s a really good point because what I constantly tried to tell my readers both on my website and in my books is, “It’s your money. You’re responsible for it. Do not make investments just because some idiots say, ‘You need to go invest in this.’” Here’s what happened. In the military, everything that you do, jet fuel, an F4, a flight suit, sunglasses, everything that you have in the military have a price on it and a budget. I could tell you how much a 500-pound bomb and a pair of sunglasses cost. JP-4 was $0.02 a gallon, JP-5, which was a denser fuel, was $0.03 a gallon.
I go to Vietnam, and we’re dropping bombs like crazy. We’ve got eighteen airplanes in the squadron. We’re flying out of the biggest airport in the entire world. I looked around and said, “We’re not paying for this war. There is a 10% income tax surcharge, but that’s it. That couldn’t possibly pay for all these bombs and JP-4 and F4s that cost $4.8 million apiece. It cost $1 million to put me in the cockpit of an F4.” That was in 1965 and 1966. War is really expensive. If you don’t need to do it, don’t do it.
I looked around and said, “If you’re not going to pay for the war, what is that going to do to the value of the dollar?” Literally, in 1968 and 1969, I started buying gold in small quantities. I continue to do that for another dozen years. I used to talk to people and say, “We’re going to destroy the dollar. You need to own some gold or silver.” Everybody made fun of me. I was like Cassandra. Cassandra was always negative and nobody ever believed her, but she was also always right.
If you use common sense and ask the right questions, you can make money in an investment.
By the fall of 1979, people started coming to me, recommending to me that I buy gold and silver. I thought, “These are all the guys who made fun of me for the last ten years or so. If they’re coming around to the conclusion that maybe owning gold or silver is a good idea, maybe it’s a bad idea now.” I literally sold out a week too early in January of 1980 because I saw gold and silver getting too popular. And gold topped in January of 1980.
You made money because you knew when to sell.
Strange enough, that’s in the book.
Chapter 7, particularly in the book, speaks into when to sell. You say, “If you ignore the rest of the book, memorize this chapter.” I love your concept around when to sell and you used a story from the craps table like in Lake Tahoe.
When I was in high school and this was in Fort Worth, Texas in the spring of 1964, I had a great Math teacher. I was taking Advanced Algebra and he was so good at teaching the course that he had gone through the entire textbook and we still had six weeks left to go in the semester. You would think, “You guys can all go home now, but they don’t work that way at school.”
We had to go to class. We had to show up. So he taught about probability in permutations. The very best way to teach probability and permutations is with a pair of dice. Believe it or not, one of the most valuable things that you can learn as an investor and certainly as a fighter pilot is probability and permutations because you need to understand the odds shooting dice or in combat.
I go to the Marine Corps boot camp in September of 1964. Some fool picked up some chalk. He squared them and he made a pair of dice. We started shooting craps at night, every night, all the way through boot camp. The funny thing is none of us had much money. We got paid $10 or $15 a month in cash. We didn’t have any money. We literally were betting nickels, dime and half dollars. I had the tremendous advantage of understanding the odds. Do you understand anything about shooting dice?
If you ever go to boot camp or get into an illegal crap game, you want to bet against the shooter. That’s how the house makes its money. I knew this and all these other guys didn’t know this. I financed my way through boot camp shooting craps made of dice made from chalk, and then I got into flight training. Every Friday night, we would go over to the officer’s club. In the corner, there would be 5 or 10 fools on their knees throwing dice. I thought, “What a great idea. This could be a lot of fun. I think I’ll go over there and join them.” The book that I gave you, Crap Shoot, is literally about shooting dice, the odds and how you could make money shooting dice.
That’s one of your fiction books. You have three fiction books on Amazon. One is Crap Shoot.
It’s a very funny book. By pure chance I happened to be a very funny writer, but I financed my way through flight training and my way as a second lieutenant because I understood the odds. I got better in this in one of my other books, the book on war. I went down to Mississippi in 1965. Mississippi, which was pretty primitive, didn’t have liquor by the drink. If you want to buy booze in Mississippi, you have to buy it from the sheriff. It was illegal for everybody else to sell it but it was legal for him to sell it.
The highest-paid public official in the United States in 1965 was the sheriff in Harrison County, Mississippi. A friend of mine that I had known since boot camp in Camp Pendleton, talk to me the first weekend I was there. He said, “Bob, do you want to go in town to have a drink?” I said, “We can’t do that? You can’t buy a drink in Mississippi.”
He looked at me and again said, “Bob, you want to go in town and have a drink?” We drove into town. We parked at this place and I swear, it looked just like a bar, but I knew that it was illegal, so it couldn’t be a bar. We walked in and it was a bar. We sat down and very pretty girls with low-cut dresses come and leans over and said, “What would you boys like to have to drink?” I asked for what every eighteen-year-old who’s in a bar that’s illegal in Mississippi. What does an eighteen-year-old ask for?
No. He says, “What do you have?” Before she giggles because she realized she’s talking to some idiot that has never been to a bar before, which was me, which was true. We sat there, had a drink and watched pretty girls. Woody said, “Do you want to gamble?” I had learned my lesson because initially, I didn’t believe what he said, but he said, “Do you want to go and have a drink?” Sure enough, he led me to a bar. We were sitting there and having a drink. When he said, “Do you want to gamble?” I said, “Sure.”
We went over and knocked on this door. I opened it up and there was a casino. That’s illegal. He says, “Yeah, but the sheriff owns it.” “I get it.” We’re in there and there is a crap table and since I know the odds, I know how to bet in craps. How do you bet in a crooked crap game? You know that it’s rigged. How do you bet if you want to make money?
No. You wait until a guy walks in who’s about five-foot-nothing and he’s got a wad full of $50 bills. I never a $50 dollar bill to my entire life. $20 was big money for me. He got a little dolly on his arm and she was about thirteen. I thought, “This is a crooked crap table, a gambling casino and a bar. I’m going to bet against him.”
If you’re at crooked crap tables in a crooked casino, bet against the guy with the most money because he is going to lose. I did that all the way through. It’s like trading. When I’m playing an honest game, I win. When I played in a dishonest game, I won. It’s strange enough to the extent that this is what the book’s about. If you will use common sense, if you will ask the right questions, you can make money in any investment.
One thing particularly, one of the principles in your book, in chapter 7, is when to sell. Fast forward to that, give us a high level of when to sell when we’re investing.
Let me give you the math. Betting in craps you have odds of about 1.6% against you. You can decrease those odds to 0.8% against you if you know how to make the best follow-up bets. Let’s assume the odds are 1.6% against you. For you to lose $1,600, that is 1.6% of $100,000. What that means is if you go to Vegas, you’re deliberately trying to lose and you accept the odds are 1.6% against and you’ve got $1,600 to lose, over the night, a $100,000 in bets will be made. When $100,000 crosses the table back and forth, at some point in time, you’re going to have more money in front of you than you came in with. You are going to be ahead financially. If the purpose of shooting craps was to make money, what do you have to do to make money?
Sell when you’ve made money.
You have to get up from the table and turn your chips in. Strangely enough, then let’s take it to investing in stocks. If you will buy stocks when they’re cheap and sell them when they’re expensive, you will make money every time. It is that simple. Everybody wants to make investing complicated and it is not complicated. I make the point in this particular book.
A guy called me up one day. He was from Kansas. He was a farmer and he was talking about a stock that I had recommended a few months before. The stock was $0.12 a share when I talked about it and the guy bought some at $0.15 a share. I said, “What do you want to know?” He’s like, “The stock is at $0.70 a share now. What should I do?”
He bought it for $0.15 a share and it’s at $0.70. He made money.
You don’t make money until you sell. You have all the paper gains in the world and they’re an absolute meaningless event. He said, “What should I do?” “Why did you invest in the first place?” He said, “I want to make money,” I said, “You made money. Why don’t you sell?” “It could go higher.” I said, “Of course, it could go higher.”
Do you feel that mindset, talking about the mindset of the herds is that people come from, “I made money. It’s gone up, so it will go up more?” Is that where people lose out?
If you buy stocks when they’re cheap and sell them when they’re expensive, you will make money every time. It’s that simple.
Nowadays, it’s very joyful to buy a stock and see it go up. It gives you an enormous amount of pleasure and you want that pleasure to continue.
I say it either in this book or one of the other books, “Stocks go up and stocks go down.” This guy said, “What should I do?” I said, “You should sell half or all of it. You’ve made a great profit. How often do you buy something at $0.15 and it goes up almost 500%?” The stock went to $0.76 that week and that was the high for the stock and then the stock tumbled for years.
A couple of years later, I got a call. I thought, “I recognize this voice.” I said, “Do I know you?” He said, “No. You don’t know me.” I said, “I swear I recognized that voice.” “I called you a couple of years back.” “You’re a farmer. You’re from Kansas.” He said, “Right.” I said, “You called me about X, Y, Z.” He said, “I did.” I said, “I said to sell part or half. What did you do?”
There came this pregnant silence and a pregnant silence is if you listen carefully, it communicates a lot. That went on for about 30 seconds. I said, “What’d you do?” He said, “I sold.” I said, “What price did you sell?” “$0.05” You had this incredible gain. You told me you invested to make money. You had this high potential gain and you didn’t sell.” “I thought it was going to go higher.” Who gives you that shit of it’s going higher? Sell when you’ve got a chance.”
That’s a mistake that everybody makes. They have so much fun watching the stock go up that they just want to ride it day after day, but the stocks go up and down. If you buy a stock when it’s cheap and you hang on to it until it gets expensive and sell it when it’s expensive, you’ll make money. The strange thing is I tell people in the book how to figure out whether it’s cheap or expensive.
These are all simple things. All of the concepts that I wrote about are simple things, but they’re things that nobody has ever taught us, but it’s stuff that people need to know. There is not a single specific investment suggestion in the book, not a single one, but it tells you how to learn, how to think for yourself and have profit on a regular basis. It’s far easier people realize. There’s no magic to it.
This is a good time to go into the speed round. This is where I ask you some questions and you say the first thing that comes to mind. The first question is, what will be your legacy?
People are going to be reading this book many years from now. My legacy is going to be like the guy that wrote Extraordinary Popular Delusions. They are truths that will last as long as there are investors and people doing stupid things.
What’s your favorite book? I know that you are very well-read. The one that is your favorite is The Man from Moscow.
Here is what’s beautiful. In a fiction book, you have to have constant conflict. There has to be some issue with what’s going to happen. “Is the hero going to get the girl?” He will have fifteen twists and turns in a chapter. It’s absolutely bizarre. He is so good with words. I like to think I’m a good writer. This guy is 100 times better than I am. He’s brilliant. It’s one of those books. Let me give you an idea. There are 36,000 reviews. My book, you probably know better than I do. It’s got 250 reviews. I got good reviews. I’m pleased with the reviews and he’s got 150 times more.
That lead to the next round of question, which is, who is your favorite author?
That would have to be several different people. He certainly would be one. He has only written three books. I’m right in the middle of another book. There have been so many great authors. I’ll be candid and this is important because we are talking to people who were thinking about writing. There was nothing to writing. Anybody can write. All writing is putting on paper, telling a story. Whether it’s a fiction story or a non-fiction story, it doesn’t make any difference. If you’ve got a story you can be a good storyteller.
I believe in the same thing. If you have a story to tell, you can write a book. For some people, it’s more challenging. This leads to the next question, what are you writing next?
I’m doing something interesting. I’m taking a book on money that I am told is the best book ever written about money. It was published in three parts in Germany from 1918 until 1923. Lenin said that the author of the book was the best of the capitalist idiots to understand money. What I’m doing is I’ve had the book translated and I’m actually an editor to format it to todays’ terminology. I’m not going to change any of the concepts, but I have to be working on something.
Is the book in the public domain?
It’s not in the public domain. I got permission from the company that owned the rights to it to translate it into English.
That is phenomenal. This has been fascinating. I want you to let the audience know where they can find out more about you.
I’m a semi-public figure. You can go to Wikipedia, 321 Gold, and Amazon. There are some interesting things there, including a picture of the airplane going through the Eiffel tower that you failed to mention because you don’t love me.
Bob is the infamous American pilot that flew underneath the Eiffel Tower. Was this during the Vietnam era?
That’s 1984. You could do it back then. They would shoot you now.
That’s where the Wikipedia page comes in and what an interesting life. You’re like an Indiana Jones in terms of your stories. I do recommend The Art of Peace, which is your memoir and it is funny. It shares your writing style and wit. Take a look at Bob and his Wikipedia page for being the only person.
Strange enough, somebody tried it in 1926, but it was French. He went in the wrong direction. He almost made it through, but he hit the side and died, which is embarrassing. Someone did it in 1944 or 1945. I have seen a picture that appeared to be unedited of a small British twin-engine airplane. Somebody did it in 1989 and the French ambassador to the United States called me and said, “Did you fly under the Eiffel Tower?” I said, “I did. You know that.” “Did you do it recently?” I said, “Why would I do it? I’ve already done it before.” Somebody did it. They never were able to figure out who it was, but it’s one of those things like climbing Mount Everest. You do it because it has to be done.
What a fantastic story and memory, you have a lot of legacies that you have already left behind. It sounds like you are continuing to do that through your work, writing and storytelling. I want to acknowledge you, Bob, for sharing your stories and books with us. They can find you at 321Gold.com. You can find all of Bob’s books on Amazon, find them all there, purchase, read and review them. I want to thank you for sharing more of your stories with us.
You know I love you. I love chatting with you and we always have fun.
We always have a good time. Bob, thank you so much. Thank you, everyone, for reading another episode of the show. See you next time.
- Nobody Knows Anything: Investing Basics
- The Art of Peace
- What Became of the Crow?
- Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds
- The Princess Bride
- Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
- Crap Shoot
- The Man from Moscow
- Wikipedia – Robert J. Moriarty
- Amazon – Robert Moriarty
About Robert Moriarty
Robert Moriarty was born in New York state in 1946. He began training as a military pilot in 1965 and became the youngest Naval Aviator during the Vietnam War in 1966. With two years in Vietnam and some 832 missions in combat, he left the Marine Corps in 1970. He worked in computers for a few years before beginning a 2nd career as a ferry pilot delivering small airplanes all over the world. He made over 240 ocean crossings mostly in single-engine airplanes.
He and his wife of 25 years were computer consultants and began one of the earliest online computer retail outlets in 1995 before retiring in 2000. He began another career running a financial website in 2001 specializing in resource companies. He continues to travel the world looking for the next great mineral discovery and writes in his spare time.