“The film that inspired the greatest money making experiment in Wall Street history!”
Wall Street loves to create moneymaking gods for public worship. Sometimes those gods deserve adulation, and sometimes they don’t. Discovering who is deserving and who is not is what makes my job fun. By the time my Turtle research was over a story had been assembled that some Turtles would want deciphered and disseminated while others would work hard to bury with all of the secrecy of a Cold War-era CIA operation.
In my opinion, especially given the mythical Turtle legend that existed for over two decades, opening up the blinds and letting sunshine in could only help investors without Turtle-like access and success to realize that the Turtles were human. If the original Turtles could learn, the ones chosen off the street, anyone could. Yes, the trading rules they were taught were critical, and yes, some were very intelligent, but the human element can’t be ignored when analyzing the experiment’s results from 1983 to 2008. So after much internal debate, and after the initial printing of the hardcover version, it was clear that an Afterword was needed for the paperback version.
Digging down into the Turtle vault was like entering the matrix filled with unexpected twists and turns that I doubt even the best Hollywood scriptwriters could have dreamed up. It was like a marathon session of Nintendo’s Mario Brothers 3 when you enter new worlds where secret clues and hidden meanings pop up each step of the way, but only if you’re willing to venture into uncharted territory where there are no guarantees that your risk will pan out.
That being said while investigating the Turtle story it seemed attitudes had finally changed and Turtle openness was in vogue. One Turtle said he would be happy to do an interview, ‘by phone if necessary.’ Another said that he would be happy to discuss the Turtle experience. Another Turtle only wanted to provide written answers to questions, but at least he was talking. Yet another said he wouldn’t mind if the circumstances were right. Ultimately those responses resulted in thoughtful and incisive interviews. Maybe my gut fear was wrong all along. Maybe this was going to be fun.
As my research gained steam, a new Turtle I’d never heard of appeared. For example, there was Rudolf Papirnik. Robert Moss, Dennis’s trading-floor chief, called Papirnik a Turtle. Papirnik worked for Dennis before, during and after the Turtle program. He definitely had ‘Turtle knowledge’. A known Turtle, Jim DiMaria, backed Moss’s contention that Papirnik was a Turtle too.
Moreover, once the Turtles started talking they were quick to express concern that Dennis would be portrayed as their primary if not only teacher. They didn’t want me to diminish the importance of Bill Eckhardt to their success. Take Jeff Gordon who was emphatic, “Bill [Eckhardt]. Very smart guy. It seemed like every time he spoke, I learned something. And there are very few people in the world that I have ever met that I can say that about. I was always learning things from him.” Time and time again, Turtles kept coming back to the importance of Bill Eckhardt’s teachings.
Besides properly crediting Eckhardt, several Turtles gave different versions of the genesis of the original ‘Turtle’ nickname. Mike Shannon contradicted the legend that Dennis named his students after seeing a turtle-breeding farm in Singapore: “Our original name, in the first year of our existence, was the Disciples. Because it was the name, at the time, of a prominent street gang on Chicago’s West Side, we agreed to go with the ‘Turtle’ idea.” Accurate? No one else told me that story, but then again Shannon had told me many other things that I later confirmed as true that no one else had told me. On the other hand, Lucy Wyatt Mattinen, one of the two female Turtles, said the name actually traced back to Richard Dennis’s fondness for the music of the ‘60s pop group The Turtles.
Despite the initial cooperation and despite these colorful asides clear resistance to my effort to write a book was slowly taking shape after initial openness. It was soon clear that some Turtles just did not want an objective treatment of their story made public.
Then there were the contradictory interpretations of their confidentiality agreement with Dennis depending on who wanted their story made public and who did not. The agreement signed by all Turtles had long since expired. It’s floating around the Net for all to see. But when trying to contact Turtle Philip Lu, who is now working as a college teacher, he threw a curve ball. Through his Edgewood College email address Lu was blunt, “It is my belief that my confidentiality agreement with Richard Dennis is still in force. Therefore I do not give interviews.”
Lu is an intelligent man (graduate of Brown). He apparently made millions as a Turtle and is well respected by many other Turtles, but what was with the ludicrous confidentiality assertion? One Turtle sprang to Lu’s defense saying that Lu could have been in the same league as Turtles Jerry Parker and Paul Rabar, “Phil actively chose not to take over a certain amount of money. He didn’t want to manage a billion dollars.”
Turtle Sam DeNardo clearly respected Lu for saying their confidentiality agreement was still intact. “He knows that that system can still work. And the more people that use it, the less effective it’s going to be. He probably feels blessed like a lot of us that we’ve had the experience.” DeNardo’s contention that widespread dissemination of the Turtle rules would dilute their effectiveness has not been borne out.
However, the desire to keep things silent did not stop with Lu. As I completed my research I sent out final requests for interviews. Turtle Paul Rabar responded by asking: “how did you get my email address?” I never heard from him again. Another Turtle responded bluntly to an interview request saying he was “not interested.” Months later that same Turtle appeared to warm up when his assistant asked for a list of those who had agreed to cooperate. When I sent him a detailed list of everyone who had participated, his response was, “no.” Unknown to me at the time, the exact list I handed over was then used to contact Turtles who had completed their interviews to persuade them to not talk. That tactic did not work and in fact irked Turtle Michael Cavallo (one of several pressured not to talk after already talking) who told me he thought the story should be out there.
When I asked another Turtle for an interview he replied: “Thank you for keeping me abreast of your project. It is still unlikely that I will participate, given what I know of Rich’s and Bill’s feelings about it. However, as I’ve indicated before, if [Turtle] and [Turtle] participate, I will too. I am confident the result will be a fine effort either way, and wish you the best with it.”
That complimentary but odd response said there was strength in numbers. If this group of three participated together, then it would be fine to go against Dennis’s and Eckhardt’s desire for privacy, although the desires of the Turtle teachers were not known to be fact. After all, access had been granted to Tom Willis — one of Rich Dennis’s closest friends dating back to the early 1970s (long before the Turtles) — a man who talked to me about everything.
However, it was apparent that when it came to interviewing them some Turtles used the defense of wanting to “protect Rich” — whatever that meant exactly — as a means to avoid talking. One Turtle who had talked to me chuckled in disbelief that the “Rich protection” explanation by other Turtles was “bullshit.”
There were also an assortment of stories surrounding the scene that could best be described as sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. This was the late seventies and early eighties after all, so debauchery among some was not exactly unexpected (and that is not to say all the Turtles indulged). While not all of those stories made this book, let’s just say there were some wild characters around.
Seeing Jerry Parker’s original office for the first time might seem trivial, but for me it still brings back the ‘aha moment’ as if it were yesterday.
Just finding the place was an adventure. While Richmond, Virginia, was only ninety miles from my house and I had a street address, there were no Map Quest turn-by-turn driving directions available back in 1994. A good old-fashioned hard-copy map from AAA was my compass. While it guided me to the general area of Parker’s office, I spent another two hours driving around rural Virginia trying to actually find it. Finally, I stopped at a local country bank to ask if they had ever heard of Parker’s firm, Chesapeake Capital.
At first my question was met with blank stares, but then one bank teller said that Chesapeake might be a half-mile up on the right side of the street. She was right. Upon reflection it was odd that while the teller sort of knew where Chesapeake was located, she had no clue what they did. She was probably making $35,000 a year (nothing wrong with that), but at the same time Parker was literally a baseball throw away making $35 million a year. My first thought was just to shake her and say, “Don’t you get who is working down the road? Forget teller jobs, go be an intern for Parker and learn how he makes millions!”
There was no meeting Parker that summer day. All I saw was the lobby and the twenty-something secretary. My first face-to-face meeting with him did not come until December 1995 at Parker’s new suburban Richmond office (about eighteen months later). Pestering him for an informational interview finally paid off when his assistant Jonathan Craven responded with the good news that he would see me. Parker’s private office was surprisingly barren except for a small glass turtle on his desk (outside the office today there is a large turtle-shaped stone sculpture, the only giveaway). I knew I was nervous but to my surprise, he seemed to be too. Parker asked, “What do you want to do the most?” Without clarification I blurted out “Execution.” Parker took that to mean that the broker world was my goal (it wasn’t) and he generously responded by recommending that I speak with his execution broker.
Yet before the allotted thirty minutes was up, I did capitalize on the face-to-face opportunity by looking at Parker straight in the eye and asking for confirmation of who had won the Barings Bank sweepstakes earlier in the year. My proffer of a ‘name’ garnered a look of, “I can’t believe you just asked me that in my office,” but his one-word answer was confirmation. In that instant much of my understanding of trend following trading was solidified. He probably never knew how much he influenced me in that moment.
Later, the broker Parker recommended, Mike Curtis, had me over to his suburban Richmond, Virginia, home for chili. Curtis was a transplanted Chicagoan clearly enjoying financial success in the Deep South. At one point he mentioned that Parker had mentored one of his distant ‘relatives’ in trend following. It would be years before it was clear to me that Curtis was talking about second generation Turtle Salem Abraham.
My path did not cross Parker’s again for years and long after the website TurtleTrader.com was established. For this visit Parker, John Hoade (his number 2 man), Keith Byers (his marketing man), his IT guru and I met in his conference room. The furnishings of his sparse conference room gave no indication of what Chesapeake Capital did except for a huge Swiss alphorn leaning against the wall. Its ‘thank you’ engraving to Parker and Chesapeake Capital from a Swiss ‘concern’ spoke volumes about his firm’s global reach.
Why was there that second meeting years later to begin with? Chesapeake Capital was a billion dollar fund at the time, but their brain trust still wanted fresh marketing ideas. They were investigating whether the Internet would enhance their business, and if so, how to use it effectively. Our meeting must have given them some good food for thought because shortly thereafter Parker sought to buy the domain trendfollowing.com from me (Parker did buy the domains trendfollowing.net & trend-following.com and still owned them as of July 2008). It was a wise move not to sell, since the domain name trendfollowing.com became the catalyst in launching my first book, ‘Trend Following’, four years later.
Today Jerry Parker’s firm Chesapeake Capital still has no online presence to speak of, but that has not stifled his success. He is still far and away the most successful Turtle by a long country mile. Interestingly, after the release of The Complete TurtleTrader in the fall of 2007 we did communicate again, when I invited him to appear in a film documentary (which was featuring many of his peers in the trading world plus two Nobel Prize winners). He respectfully declined. It wasn’t that he appeared to have a problem with the message of the film, but rather that having his privacy intruded on by appearing in a film was not his cup of tea.
Liz Cheval and Lucy Wyatt
There were two female Turtles. That was news to many since up to the time my book was published the lone female Turtle had been publicly positioned as Liz Cheval. Lucy Wyatt Mattinen was a Turtle as well. It was other Turtles who were the source of confirming Wyatt Mattinen’s Turtle existence. But there was a more detailed backstory and it starts first with Liz Cheval.
Cheval initially responded to an interview request for this book in a civil fashion saying that due to other professional commitments she could not support the project. Then three weeks later, with no provocation or contact, she followed up to say that she would pursue legal remedies if references were made about her. Did she think as a public figure in the trading world, someone quoted in newspapers and magazines, that she could simply decree that her name be left out of a story on the Turtles? Apparently she did.
Soon after news came across my desk that Cheval would be speaking in Chicago at a Managed Funds Association conference. If she would not speak with me, then it was time to go hear her in person and perhaps convince her to ease up and consider an interview.
Dressed in an eclectic black outfit, almost appearing to be a cape, Cheval was very well spoken and confident. At her luncheon speech that day in Chicago Cheval organized her presentation into two parts:
1. Human investment psychology: the ups and downs and
2. The mathematical solution.
For anyone familiar with the Turtles these two big picture points were not a surprise. During her keynote address Cheval also broached the subject of correlation.
The logic behind Cheval’s presentation traced back to her time with Dennis. All traders should want as much negative correlation among the components in their portfolio as possible. As long as their portfolio maintains a positive overall return, constantly adding more and more negatively correlated components will decrease the standard deviation (or one way to view risk).
Her speech reinforced everything my research had uncovered about the Turtles, their training and their beliefs, but I could not get close to her after her speech. So why wouldn’t she grant an interview? For one Cheval was never a fan of TurtleTrader.com. She apparently did not like the fact that anyone beyond a ‘Turtle’ could possibly profit from the word ‘Turtle’ (that faulty logic would eliminate just about every member of the media and/or biographer from writing on any subject of any kind). But her push back never really made any sense given that my depiction of the Turtles for all these years was very positive.
There were a few possible reasons that might explain her reluctance. Cheval’s first-year 1984 Turtle performance of -20.98% is missing from her current-day performance track record. It was actually Turtle Jeff Gordon who noted the omission in passing during his interview. It was clear that once Cheval began trading for clients in 1988 her track record started with her 1985 performance of +51.65%, not that negative first year.
But as book research neared completion, the animosity Cheval bore toward a Turtle book project accelerated. In the fall of 2006 a jazz music producer in New York City, Charles Carlini, came to me shopping a Turtle film documentary idea (not yet knowing my Turtle book was in the works). He was excited because he had been in contact with Cheval, who was promising access to all of the Turtles for his film. All? There was no way that was going to happen.
Given Carlini’s lack of detailed knowledge of the Turtles and given Cheval’s disdain for a Turtle book project, the film appeared to be a way to get another version of the Turtles out there before my book. What in blazes was her fear of an objective Turtle book? That said, it was crystal clear that a race with people who could trump my book was on. Pressure? Just a little.
One Turtle sarcastically called the drama created the ‘conspiracy of the stupid.’ However, in an attempt to bury the hatchet with Cheval, I made a final sincere effort to assuage her feelings. Bottom line, I had no personal gripe with her. Her email response in the form of a peace offering was suspect. My first thought? ‘Trojan horse’:
”Are you the original founder of the TurtleTrader.com website? I know it’s changed quite a bit over the years. I think it’s a great resource. Just wasn’t sure if you were the original founder and if so, and do you have any contact information for [name] and other Turtles? Rich asked me to put together a list for him and I think you have more up-to-date information than I do. I would appreciate a list of email addresses or other contact information on as many Turtles as you have.”
It was satisfying to hear Cheval be positive, but it did not seem like a good idea to give out a list of Turtle interviewees to another Turtle (again) and then have them be used to slow down the book. However, once the book was released in October 2007, there may have been another reason for Cheval’s negative actions: Lucy Wyatt Mattinen — the other female Turtle.
Little did I know what a tempest was brewing once I declared that there were two female Turtles. Like my book, my December 2007 Turtle expose in Trader Monthly magazine revealed the existence of two female Turtles. When verifying my article content with Cheval, Trader Monthly was told by her that she was the only female Turtle. The magazine, however, stood by the notion of two female Turtles and referred to women in my article.
While there was no opportunity to interview Lucy Wyatt Mattinen before my book was released, she came calling once it was out. She was incensed that she was described in the book as doing her nails by another Turtle (in another article I used the term manicurist–which was false). She vehemently denied the descriptions of her. After some time we both decided to sit down for an in-person interview on April 12, 2008 — an interview that quickly added more to the genesis for the Turtle experiment and established perhaps how important Wyatt was to the creation of the Turtles.
La Mere Vipere, often called the world’s first punk dance club, opened in Chicago on Halsted Street in 1977. It subsequently burned down in 1978. The La Mere Vipere bar was where Lucy Wyatt met Richard Dennis’s brother Tom Dennis (also a trader). There is a very good chance the Turtle experiment would never have happened if not for that chance encounter between Lucy Wyatt and Tom Dennis (and that chance encounter surely included the Sex Pistols‘ Johnny Rotten belting out at least once that night God Save the Queen).
It turns out that after becoming friends with Tom and Richard Dennis, Wyatt subsequently met Dennis’s childhood friend William Eckhardt. Eckhardt and Wyatt then dated off and on, but before the Turtle experiment had officially commenced, Eckhardt taught Wyatt trading and she subsequently made hundreds of thousands of dollars in the early 1980s when she was only a few years removed from her teens. Wyatt told me that Eckhardt had needled Dennis that her success was due to a woman’s intuition. Dennis of course never bought the intuition argument — the fundamental reason for his launching the Turtle experiment. Within a few years the Turtles were picked and Wyatt joined the Turtles in the Turtle room as an original Turtle.
As a side note Cheval’s name came across my desk again in 2008. She must have finally been happy with ‘The Complete TurtleTrader’ as she was now eagerly paying Google to have her firm’s ad pop up every time someone searched for the term ‘Michael Covel’.
Along with Wyatt another Turtle who I could not find during the research process was Jiri ‘George’ Svoboda. In turns out that today Svoboda is an accomplished guitarist who plays all kinds of musical styles from Latin to acoustic and Klezmer music. He happens to be the only original Turtle currently with a MySpace.com page. Is he trading still? Turtle Tom Shanks told me that George Svoboda probably has the best returns for any Turtle since 1988. But forget returns for a moment, his online videos are awesome.
When looking at his online YouTube videos while he and a partner played at San Diego State University, it was easy to wonder how many students walking around campus realized that day that the guy playing classical guitar in the courtyard knew more about trading and making money than the entire finance faculty at the university.
There was no finding Svoboda to interview the first time around, and no finding him for my Afterword either, but to my good fortune one individual who had worked for Svoboda (ten years after the end of the Turtle experiment) randomly contacted me in email.
He told me that while he worked for Svoboda they traded two systems very similar to the Turtle system, a slow and a fast system. Some of the parameters had been tweaked slightly due to results from extensive back-testing, but the basic trading rules were the same as in the original Turtle days. At the time this individual was working for Svoboda their trading day started at around 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time because they were trading Australia and Hong Kong markets and needed the next day trades by no later than 5 p.m.:
“We loaded the daily numbers into the programs and about 15 minutes later we had the next days‘ trades. [Svoboda and partners] were incredibly secretive toward me; it was a very tight-knit group. George and his partners very much valued their privacy. I think that they were worried about notoriety and the loss of personal freedom.”
Clearly, many outsiders experienced the Turtles’ secrecy and paranoia, but my strangest experiences by far involved the youngest Turtle.
A business trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2001 first brought me into contact with Curtis Faith. I welcomed the opportunity to meet another of Dennis’s famed Turtles. Faith picked me up at the Frenchman’s Reef Marriott on St. Thomas and after squeezing into the backseat of his beat-up sub-compact rental car we took off to the beach for a chat.
First impression? St. Thomas is the Caribbean. It’s an island and there is that certain laid back vibe when you hear steel drums nonstop. Oddly, almost immediately I thought I detected an inferiority complex in Faith, but he was a Turtle and judging a book by its cover in this business was not wise. Faith was around 40 years old by then, but appeared older (tired might be the apt description).
Within minutes of meeting Faith the topic of Ayn Rand’s classic book Atlas Shrugged came up. He and others were trying to build a money management firm called Galt Capital at the time — hence the discussion. He said a friend of his had read the 1200 page classic text in a few hours. His statement struck me as a comical exaggeration, but he was clearly serious. A little later, he announced he was launching a new airline (he was using an email address of email@example.com at the time). Even though my gut said no way that this man was launching an airline, he was a Turtle and maybe he was indeed launching an airline called Galt Air.
That night over dinner, Faith was complimentary to the TurtleTrader.com website: “Not sure how you assembled it all, but you got it right.” However, it was easy to come away from meeting this Turtle with a distinctly different feeling than meeting Jerry Parker, a man known beyond a shadow of a doubt to have found immense success. Later, due diligence on Google turned up Faith’s resume posted online. A famed Turtle, the one who had positioned himself as the most successful Turtle, was looking for employment? While I had no immediate proof my instinct told me that this Turtle had not achieved great wealth. Faith was a direct contradiction to the legend of all Turtles making it.
It turned out that there were a handful of people who had surrounded Faith attempting to piggyback off of his Turtle fame for assorted business purposes. Those people started talking freely to me and confirmed that Faith was allegedly in monetary straights.
I had no further contact with Faith after those few random meetings, but Faith soon offered a different perspective regarding my efforts. In 2003 he announced publicly that, “You won’t get any expert advice from the guy who runs TurtleTrader.com. All you will get is the regurgitation of advice from other traders not tempered by the experience of a successful trading career. Paying for advice from this source is a lot like hiring a blind guide.”
Once my book The Complete TurtleTrader was released in October 2007, Faith was the one Turtle to express angry dissent. With his own book out touting himself as super successful, Faith’s need to defend his legend was apparent: “In my opinion, [Covel] is a parasite who lives off of the creation and energy of others instead of contributing something to humanity.”
Someone posting under the screen name “Priapus Maximus” (probably Faith) continued: “Mike’s [Covel] last book [Trend Following] was a sales brochure for his trading course crap and I think it is pretty obvious which book will do better. I’ll bet Mike really hates Curtis now.” [Note: Faith confronted with IP evidence of this post tried to say it was his ‘employee.’ Also, the most successful Turtle was/is Jerry Parker. His podcast with Michael Covel is here.]
The zaniness did not end there. As explored in chapter 12, the one trading firm started by Faith in the twenty years since the Turtle experiment ended was a disaster. In trying to investigate that firm with the government, the bureaucratic process to obtain documents was painfully slow. In fact, as my book went to print in early 2007 all of the details of the case were not in. However, shortly after the release of my book the government finally provided the legal depositions involving their investigation and dismantling of this small trading firm Faith co-founded (the firm name was Acceleration Capital).
As a writer you quickly learn that the maxim ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ is of course true, but when the United States government depositions revealed that Acceleration Capital’s trading system was simply the venerable Donchian trend trading system, unchanged, it felt like I had uncovered a shell game.
While this firm’s cachet was built off the [so-called] Curtis Faith Turtle trading ‘legend,’ Faith’s partner Yuri Plyam painted a picture in depositions of Faith missing in action providing no real value to the trading operation. Further, Toby Denniston, an employee associated with Acceleration Capital (see chapter 12), was stealing money from Faith’s firm to buy trips, cars, a payment for his gastric bypass surgery, various gifts for his boyfriend and lastly, to start a Barbie doll collection.
Posting these verbatim depositions (which would have been buried forever if not for my Freedom of Information requests), which included the Barbie doll collection story, was just one of many events that put a damper on Faith’s assertion that he was the most successful Turtle. Faith responded to the revelations with guns blazing, “When it comes to trading Covel is an idiot.” Another post from Faith referred to me as “an idiot shyster.” The Faith lawsuit threats started:
“Covel has been duped by his own anger and his own blindness to the possibility that there might be others out there who are not dishonest charlatans. [Covel] cannot fathom why someone who actually was as successful as I was would leave so much money on the table and stop trading. The courts will prove [Covel] the spiteful jealous liar that he is…Fortunately, Covel made these statements in a magazine published in the U.K. That means that I can sue him for libel there. The English have very tough libel laws because they don’t like people making things up about the royals…I won’t have to worry about Covel anymore after my suit…[Covel is] an asshole who has made himself my mortal enemy despite my many attempts to get him to stop…Mike [Covel’s] continuing actions are only going to make it clearer to a jury that he is being malicious. The punitive damages rise every time he posts more bullshit.”
Faith, explaining his legal logic, stated that he would “Donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the suit against Covel to nonprofit organizations dedicated to alternate energy research, poverty, and desease [sic].”
Then in the spring of 2008 Faith’s childhood friend Tim Arnold spoke up. Arnold confirmed Faith’s Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, among other things. Arnold and Faith had started a small software firm together, but then Arnold bought Faith out. Following the buyout, and seeking more money beyond the original agreement with Arnold, Faith posted messages in chat forums about more supposed lawsuits. In conversation with Arnold you could tell he was exasperated with Faith. Arnold painted a picture of a Turtle who was hanging on to a reputation from twenty-five years ago, but who had now run very short on cash.
The entire Faith story reminded me of my childhood experiences growing up around bantam roosters. Those roosters would strut around their pen in a desperate need to show dominance, to impress, to scare, to bully, but you always knew if you chased them or yelled ‘boo’ they would run away.
What does all of this dysfunctional behavior have to do with the Turtles? Faith has long positioned himself as the most successful Turtle. The evidence says otherwise. More important, if investors take Faith at his word and make him their role model, they will be guided down a path that meanders nowhere. Recently, Faith start preaching ‘trading from your gut’ – with no performance proof to back his words.
It turns out Faith was also a volunteer for the Barack Obama presidential campaign. In that effort he posted a YouTube video in December 2007. With what appeared to be a washing machine running in the background, Faith spent four minutes preaching to Barack Obama about how he could win the presidency. Even a casual observer could see Faith had no substantive tie to the campaign. There was an eerie feeling of superiority to his words as though an army of followers was waiting on his every word, including Obama himself.
Maybe the Turtle story is too perfect. Maybe for some people it is just not believable. The refusal to accept obvious truths is the biggest obstacle to getting more people to adopt sound investment behaviors. Why? People have always struggled with perceptions of truth. It comes down to a general rule: We believe what we want to believe.