The wrecking ball that hate can become causes us to ignore the virtues of people or things that we hate or dislike
27-Aug-2015 •Mohammed Ekramul Haque
What is it? The flip side of the liking/loving tendency, this tendency causes us to ignore the virtues of people or things that we hate or dislike and can often lead to distortion of facts to perpetuate that hatred.
The disliking/hating tendency is an ancient behaviour, says Munger. "The long history of man contains almost continuous war. For instance, most American Indian tribes warred incessantly, and some tribes would occasionally bring captives home to women so that all could join in the fun of torturing captives to death. Even with the spread of religion and the advent of advanced civilization, much modern war remains pretty savage."
Just how strong a hold hatred can take over our lives is visible from the continued grudge a person can hold against another long after he may have forgotten what the original feud was about. This 'hating-to-the-guts' tendency is programmed into human behaviour. Munger notes, "The dislikings and hatreds never go away completely. Born into man, these driving tendencies remain strong. Thus, we get maxims like the one from England: 'Politics is the art of marshalling hatreds'. And we also get the extreme popularity of very negative political advertising in the United States."
Often found in: Nearly everyone
In Life: Who among us has not seen family feuds? Now you can pinpoint the culprit - the disliking/hating tendency. "At the family level, we often see one sibling hate his other siblings and litigate with them endlessly if he can afford it. Indeed, a wag named Buffett has repeatedly explained to me that a major difference between rich and poor people is that the rich people can spend their lives suing their relatives."
The disliking/hating tendency sneaks up on the hater, who starts behaving in the following manner: "(1) ignore virtues in the object of dislike, (2) dislike people, products, and actions merely associated with the object of his dislike, and (3) distort other facts to facilitate hatred.
Distortion of that kind is often so extreme that miscognition is shockingly large. When the World Trade Center was destroyed, many Pakistanis immediately concluded that the Hindus did it, while many Muslims concluded that the Jews did it. Such factual distortions often make mediation between opponents locked in hatred either difficult or impossible. Mediations between Israelis and Palestinians are difficult because facts in one side's history overlap very little with facts from the other side's."
In corporations: The disliking/ hating tendency can play havoc with investors' money if the business is family-run and is caught up in a family feud. Consider the cases of BPL, Mafatlal and Bajaj. For an excellent discussion on family feuds wrecking Indian businesses, read the excellent book Business Battles: Family Feuds That Changed Indian Industry by Shyamal Majumdar.
In Investing: The disliking/hating tendency interferes with clear thinking. Many investors who bought into the Infosys story at the peak of the technology bull run did not see their investments recover in the six years following the tech crash of 2000. It didn't matter that they could buy the same stock at 75 per cent discount from its lifetime peak for many years after the tech meltdown. Anyone who would have invested in the stock as late as 2003 would now be sitting on a 10x multi-bagger.
You just read about one of the misjudgements people generally make while investing. Read 25 ways to (Not) make mistakes to get an account of Charlie Munger's twenty-five typical misjudgements, along with our commentary on how they fit into Indian businesses and Indian investments.