Perversity and the Stock Market

Perversity is an obstacle to real achievement. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will find that perversity refers to the illogic of what goes on in the world. Best interpretation: if refers to the common experience of living in a world that frequently does not coincide with your expectations about it. (Hello, Wall Street.)

Perversity refers to the fact that people are inconsistent, always improvising, changing their minds, putting a spin here and there on what they heard or what they saw. It refers to the obvious; that in the real world things are forever evolving – not randomly, in a technical sense – but with no predictable pattern. Our imaginations about the future are as flawed as our recollections of the past.


So, perversity arises in the disconnect between outcomes we believe will occur, and the realities that do occur. Our perceptions may be full of wishful thinking. Our predictions even more so. What we call perversity derives from the fact that the actualities of the world – past, present, or future – are not obligated to be consistent with our hopes, our fears, or our mental models of the way they should be.

Consider this. Perversity has three fundamental sources:

  • Neither the people nor the world you co-habit with them is obligated to be the way you think they are, or to behave in the way you expect them to.
  • The way other people see the world and think about it, and the way other people make decisions and take actions in the world, is something you can neither control nor predict with much accuracy.
  • The world you live in with lots of other people is forever generating happenings and outcomes and effects other than what you intended.

Perversity is what can be said to be at work behind every situation where your reaction is: “I can’t understand how that happened!”