Never trust a financial writer who starts with 'monkeys typing Shakespeare'

I laughed out loud at Scott Burns' column Options are for pros, not for the rest of us from the 2004-08-01 Seattle Times Business/Personal Finance section.

A reader asks:

Q: What is your opinion about companies that train you to trade in the options markets? I have been to two seminars at local hotels. Both companies stressed that their training is the way to go ? about $3,000 for two days. Is this a scam, or can Joe Six-Pack pick up on this and make easy money, as both companies portray?

His response starts with:

A: It has been said that if you put enough monkeys at typewriters, one of them would eventually produce Shakespeare. It would, however, require a really, really large number of monkeys.

And just keeps getting better.

This is his description of professional options traders:

To do it they go to the mathematics and physics departments of major universities. They hire people who were pondering Fermat's Last Theorem as they went through puberty. These are the kind of people who get an "A" in college calculus without buying the textbook or attending the lectures.

These are the people who take the other side of the trade. Basically, the homegrown options trader is playing against a whole crew of Mensa eligibles.

I like how it's "us versus them." Gee, Mr. Burns, isn't it true that I could also take the same side as the geniuses and calculus coven once in a while? Wouldn't it be slightly weird that I'm always taking the other side of their trade?

Scott Burns needs to do a little more finance work and little less writing.

Written by Andrew Ittner in misc on Sun 01 August 2004. Tags: business, commentary, trading