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Good News for People Who Like Bad News – Episode 172

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Are things getting better or worse? Here’s what to make of all the media madness.

War, terrorism, natural disasters, economic uncertainty. On this episode of the Dentist Money™ Show, Reese and Ryan discuss the type of news that drives ratings, and the impact it can have on our decision making.

They discuss perception versus reality and use headlines from the past to illustrate how smart investors navigate through all the noise.

Show Notes: 

A Big Dose of Good News For a Change 

Podcast Transcript:

Announcer: Consult an advisor or conduct your own due diligence when making financial decisions. General principles discussed during this program do not constitute personal advice. This program is furnished by Dentist Advisors, a registered investment advisor. This is Dentist Money. Now here’s your host, Reese Harper.

Reese Harper: Welcome to the Dentist Money Show, where we help dentists make smart financial decisions. I’m your host, Reese Harper, here with my trusty old cohost, Sir Ryan Isaac.

Ryan Isaac: Mm-hmm (affirmative) Back in the studio. Feeling it. It’s the first day of spring actually, it’s Spring Equinox. Is that what it’s called?

Jenni Colborn: I think so. I’m not sure.

Reese Harper: It’s a warm day. Feeling it. Jenni has put together a nice spread here in the studio. Ryan is excited about being able to go outside again, and I’m sad because my skiing conditions are now slowed.

Ryan Isaac: They’re deteriorating. I went with my kids on Saturday-

Reese Harper: You did? You know when your four-year-old is likable to go down black-diamond runs with you, that the conditions are a little slow.

Ryan Isaac: That the snows bad, it’s done?

Reese Harper: That the conditions are a little slow.

Ryan Isaac: Man.

Reese Harper: But she’s pretty stoked that she-

Ryan Isaac: Did she go?

Reese Harper: She’s a black-diamond runner now.

Ryan Isaac: I’ve never done that.

Reese Harper: The blues are too slow.

Ryan Isaac: It is funny how though when you live in a climate where there’s four seasons, like yesterday we were at the gym, it was like 5:30 and we were working out outside, it was like 55 degrees and it felt hot, you know? And when you live in a place where there’s four seasons, funny how in the spring, 55 feels so good, but like this October when it hits 55, it’ll be like, “This is freezing! It’s the worst ever!” Feels amazing.

Reese Harper: You have to go through an adjustment. Speaking of exciting times-

Ryan Isaac: Good news, yeah.

Reese Harper: With spring, lately we’ve been talking about the topic of how people consume news and how they think about good news versus bad news. How news affects people. And I was actually-

Ryan Isaac: It affects me. I’m scared of a lot of things, I feel like. Maybe unnaturally.

Reese Harper: There are a few things you’ve been scared about. I’ve known you for a while-

Ryan Isaac: I have come up with a list though.

Reese Harper: All right, give me a new one that I don’t know about.

Ryan Isaac: Well, I mean it feels legitimate, but I’m really worried about our planet.

Reese Harper: Okay.

Ryan Isaac: I’m really worried about our planet.

Reese Harper: Well that’s not an irrational fear, though, that’s an objective problem.

Ryan Isaac: I’m not going to be around, but it’s part of my mid-life crisis, I’m thinking like I can kind of imagine my kids having kids one day, and they’ll be like, “They can’t live in Southern California,” it won’t exist. Phoenix will be uninhabitable in 50 years.

Reese Harper: Okay.

Ryan Isaac: I’m making these up, maybe that’s not true, but I’m just saying. I’m worried about the future of our planet’s health.

Reese Harper: I think that’s a more rational fear, I respect that fear slightly more than the fear you carry about being plowed over by a dump truck, and car accidents.

Ryan Isaac: Uh-huh.

Jenni Colborn: Inconveniencing strangers.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, auto-pedestrian accidents scare me, earthquakes freak me out, we’ve had a string of earthquakes in Utah.

Reese Harper: But a disproportionately high fear ratio

Ryan Isaac: Being late for airplanes, and inconveniencing strangers. That’s my list of things I’m scared of.

Reese Harper: I think these are… So when we talk about bad news versus good news here, what we’re talking about is, there’s been a fair amount of research on this topic done. And I want to tell you about this in a little bit because you’re going to find it very interesting. Pew Research Center has done a significant amount of research on consumption of news over the last 40 to 50 years, and what type of news people are consuming. We’re going to get to that in just a minute.

Reese Harper: But first, we want to talk about something that’s related to this topic, which is our favorite time of year, which is the Oscars.

Ryan Isaac: Of course the Oscars.

Reese Harper: I love Lady Gaga, I love film. I really do. I think this was a good year. Jenni, do you think this was a good year or not? You thought it was an average year.

Jenni Colborn: It was an average year for me. There was some stuff that was-

Reese Harper: What was your favorite film from this year?

Jenni Colborn: The Favorite.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Jenni Colborn: Did you see that one?

Reese Harper: Yes.

Ryan Isaac: Man, I’m behind. I feel like I’m behind. But this is a good year for you because this year was famous for a lot of music in the movies. Right?

Reese Harper: I liked Green Book, just because for me, I really, I mean I connect with musicians, and this was, for those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s about a piano performance player that-

Ryan Isaac: I haven’t seen it.

Reese Harper: Is African-American, traveling in the deep south during the-

Ryan Isaac: ’60s?

Reese Harper: Late ’50s, early ’60s. And what he experienced with his very-

Ryan Isaac: It won “Best Picture”?

Reese Harper: Brooklyn accent cabby driver along the way.

Ryan Isaac: Oh yeah.

Reese Harper: It got seven nominations I think.

Ryan Isaac: So I guess I’m going to go see it.

Reese Harper: Anyway, I really liked-

Ryan Isaac: Good music in that one?

Reese Harper: Bohemian Rhapsody was excellent. I liked it.

Ryan Isaac: He’s awesome.

Jenni Colborn: He’s so good. Do you know he has an identical twin brother?

Ryan Isaac: He does?

Jenni Colborn: Identical. There’s two of them.

Reese Harper: Maybe it’s his stunt double.

Ryan Isaac: Maybe.

Reese Harper: Because he has a stunt double, I wonder if that’s his brother.

Ryan Isaac: He does?

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Man, this is Rami?

Jenni Colborn: Rami Malek.

Reese Harper: I don’t think his stunt double’s his brother.

Ryan Isaac: If you like him though, you need to go see Mr. Robot, that’s all I’m saying.

Jenni Colborn: It’s so good.

Reese Harper: Okay. I thought he was way better in Bohemian Rhapsody than Mr. Robot. I felt like Mr. Robot was good, but it was just kind of like, he had a one-tone kind of personality in that show.

Ryan Isaac: He’s a disturbed kid.

Reese Harper: I just felt like he really elevated his acting career with Mr. Robot.

Ryan Isaac: Man, I love Mr. Robot. Still going-

Reese Harper: Anyway so, the thing that’s interesting about film and why this ties in. I wrote an article a few weeks ago about an Oscar winner that, did me and you see it, or me and Justin see it?

Ryan Isaac: I think you and Justin saw it, and then I saw it later, yeah.

Reese Harper: There was a film-

Ryan Isaac: You were excited though.

Reese Harper: If any of you have, I’m going to paint a little bit of a picture for you here about a time in history, my birthday actually, 1982…

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. It’s a good year.

Reese Harper: This is the time… It was 1982, and we’re looking out into the future, and you can see, imagine like really misty, dusty, dark-

Ryan Isaac: It’s more like pollution, not mist.

Reese Harper: Pollution.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Smog, like covering streets. Imagine these-

Ryan Isaac: A hellscape.

Reese Harper: Giant billboards of fluorescent lights shining in the sky and you can kind of see them in the distance through the smog.

Ryan Isaac: Pollution. And smog, yeah.

Reese Harper: And there’s all these poor people running around in the streets, like selling scraps of metal and loaves of bread.

Ryan Isaac: This is Phoenix in July, actually.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: This is exactly what it’s like in Arizona in July.

Reese Harper: It’s 1982 and you’re looking out into the future, okay? And you’re looking towards 2019. Okay? Because that is…

Ryan Isaac: That’s the setting for this.

Reese Harper: Yeah, that’s the setting for this film. It is 1982, but this picture I’m painting is happening in 2019.

Ryan Isaac: That’s so funny that it’s 2019.

Reese Harper: And this was a movie. It was a Ridley Scott movie called Blade Runner. If you’ve ever seen the original-

Ryan Isaac: You know what’s crazy, I never saw the original.

Reese Harper: It’s a lot more like-

Ryan Isaac: Apocalyptic.

Reese Harper: Yeah, than the more recent one, which me and Justin-

Ryan Isaac: I never saw that show.

Reese Harper: Anyway, but the bottom line is, if you think about the way things are in 2019, compared to the way that Ridley Scott painted it-

Ryan Isaac: Thought it would be?

Reese Harper: At that time…

Ryan Isaac: Because it’s set where? It’s Los Angeles?

Reese Harper: Yeah, it’s in LA, where the Oscars take place, and at the time, there were giant monolithic kind of skyscrapers, a lot of pollution. It was just really dark. And you think about it, I mean it was believable at the time, right? 1982? It’s been a long time.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, like decades from now in Los Angeles when everything’s been destroyed.

Reese Harper: It’s been 40 years, you know.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. Built up and destroyed again.

Reese Harper: And life didn’t shake out quite that way.

Ryan Isaac: No, there’s a little smog in LA, but it’s nicer than that.

Reese Harper: Objectively, like the air pollution’s better today than it was then. I know in Salt Lake, the air pollution today is better than it was in 1982.

Ryan Isaac: More regulation.

Reese Harper: There’s just better emissions technology.

Ryan Isaac: Better standards.

Reese Harper: It’s marginally better, because the population’s like way bigger.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: But the fact that there’s even any objective improvement is a good sign.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, but in 1982 when he made that film, he’s like, “Oh, by 2019,” They kind of picked a number out of the air.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Like, “What seems far away, but believable? 2019.”

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: That’s so far away.

Reese Harper: Yeah, I just thought it was a cool-

Ryan Isaac: I’m sure the world will be over by then.

Reese Harper: Yeah, it’s a cool coincidence to see and it paints the story of the bad news versus good news research that me and Ryan have been looking into lately.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, it’s more compelling to look at, and it catches your attention.

Reese Harper: Yeah, I’m going to tell you a little bit about the research that has been done, and I’m going to go into some news that’s been measured. If you look at Pew’s research, you can find this by, there’s a few different websites that you could find it at, but if you go to, and read on news preferences, okay, there’s a few articles. They probably are going to come out with another one recently that’s going to examine the last 10 years because they’re on about a 10 year cadence on how they look at this. But if you look across the 19 general news categories by decade, and you try to examine what is the highest watched news category that is pretty much led the pack the entire time?

Ryan Isaac: I wish I didn’t already know this because it would be fun to guess.

Reese Harper: Jenni probably doesn’t know. Do you know?

Jenni Colborn: I don’t know.

Ryan Isaac: Okay, what would you guess is the most-

Reese Harper: What would you guess, and let’s say,

Ryan Isaac: The most attention in the news.

Reese Harper: Is the highest attention kind of news story? Like type of news?

Jenni Colborn: I mean, it’s always like bad news. It’s your shootings, it’s your car crashes-

Reese Harper: Would you say car crime? What would you think?

Jenni Colborn: I worked in news for two years, so that was I mean…

Reese Harper: So I’m going to give you a couple of options to pick from, and you tell me which one you think is the highest.

Jenni Colborn: Let’s do it.

Ryan Isaac: Play along at home, will you?

Reese Harper: It can be crime and social violence, health and safety, natural disasters-

Ryan Isaac: Yes big time.

Reese Harper: War and terrorism, or bad weather. Which one do you think would be the best? The highest?

Jenni Colborn: What was the third one again?

Reese Harper: Third one I said was natural disasters.

Jenni Colborn: I’m going to go with crime.

Reese Harper: Crime?

Jenni Colborn: Crime, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Reese Harper: Okay, I would’ve thought the same thing. Crime is highly ranked, but of these ones I gave you, crime is the lowest.

Jenni Colborn: Seriously?

Reese Harper: But it’s still very high, but crime represents, in this particular scoring, it was about, it’s almost half as engaging as the highest option, which is war and terrorism. So war and terrorism by far dominates the news cycles.

Ryan Isaac: Well what’s crazy, and that’s been a consistent thing since they started tracking this for like three decades, and just goes to show the world we live in. That war and terrorism, there’s always so much of it, that it’s always the most popular thing.

Reese Harper: Tied for second place, all right, tied for second place is money.

Ryan Isaac: Huh.

Reese Harper: Money news and predominantly money news related to the national economy and stock markets, okay? Is a very highly watched issue. Be surprising, but tied with that is any bad weather globally.

Jenni Colborn: Oh, they love to go crazy about bad weather.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, weather, that’s funny.

Jenni Colborn: 6 hours of hurricane coverage!

Ryan Isaac: That’s true, you don’t want to downplay even just this last winter, it was a crazy winter across the country. A lot of huge-

Reese Harper: Totally.

Ryan Isaac: They named them like “The Hellfire Bomb Cyclone,” you know like the craziest names that really don’t seem like they’re that bad.

Jenni Colborn: Or like-

Reese Harper: So basically of all the stories published, it’s close to half of… When the public tuned in, almost half of the public, when they tune in and watch a news story closely, which is measured by just quantity of viewership, half of the stories almost are linked to war and terrorism.

Ryan Isaac: Interesting.

Reese Harper: And so when people get engaged, that’s the highest engagement level of any story. Sports is actually a lot lower. Sports is about 30% of the impact that war and terrorism has. So it’s about a third of the engagement level.

Ryan Isaac: And less than bad weather.

Reese Harper: Way less than money, way less than bad weather.

Ryan Isaac: Crazy.

Reese Harper: Way less than natural disasters.

Ryan Isaac: I wouldn’t have thought that at all.

Reese Harper: Anything regarding health and safety also ranks very high. Campaigns and elections are half as popular as war and terrorism, bad weather, money, natural disaster. And you wouldn’t assume that. Things that have the chance at being good news, like science and technology, any kind of celebrity scandals, personalities and entertainment-

Ryan Isaac: So I read that celebrity news is actually the lowest category.

Reese Harper: Yeah, it like, in terms-

Ryan Isaac: That’s surprising.

Reese Harper: When people tune in and watch closely, like celebrity news has a static consistent viewer base. That don’t pay attention to anything else.

Ryan Isaac: It’s just celebrity news.

Reese Harper: That’s what they do. And some people like me, I tune in to, I feel like I read a fair amount of news, but I don’t watch news on TV as often because I know that it’s just war and terrorism, crime, natural disaster, and a little bit of money, and then some health and safety, and some foreign wars.

Ryan Isaac: And what’s crazy is it’s curated for the consumers’ preferences.

Reese Harper: That’s the thing that is kind of important here is this is not happening because the news is publishing stories that they want to publish that are most interesting to them.

Ryan Isaac: Or there’s not like an algorithm where they’re saying, “This is actually the most impactful thing that you should know in the world today.”

Reese Harper: Yeah, like if science and technology and innovation and good news around innovation, science, and technology was interesting to people and they were tuning in, they would do more of it. But they don’t because no one watches it. Like, “Oh, global warning’s, we have a measurable improvement this year in temperature, in the Atlantic Ocean,” and no one tunes in, and no one cares.

Ryan Isaac: It doesn’t matter.

Reese Harper: Yeah, I published an article, my worst performing article of the entire year this year was entitled “A Big Dose of Good News for a Change.” No one clicked on it, because no one cares.

Ryan Isaac: So if you just switched that title around-

Reese Harper: If I put like-

Ryan Isaac: Here’s the worst news you’ll read all week.

Reese Harper: The market is going to implode-

Ryan Isaac: Oh yeah, clickbait. You’d have that.

Reese Harper: I would have everyone be reading it and commenting and so excited. But I wrote about a lot of good news that happened-

Ryan Isaac: You don’t understand the way social media works.

Reese Harper: And no one wanted to read it.

Ryan Isaac: You’ve got to fix that title.

Reese Harper: So I want to tell you about some good news that happened this year. To combat some of the tendencies that we have.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah there was some. There was some cool stuff.

Reese Harper: The first one that I think is one that Sir Ryan Isaac to tell us about the first good news story.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, well this one’s really cool. I didn’t know about some of this stuff. So there was, it was a New York Times article. A story called “Why 2018 is the Best Year in Human History.” I’ll bet no one read that.

Reese Harper: No one read it.

Ryan Isaac: If it was the worst year, everyone would read that. Because I want to know, why was this the worst? “I agree, I think it was the worst!” I want to confirm my bias.

Reese Harper: Before we get into these, I just want to wrap up with a little bow here on the bad news. The reason Pew Research studies show that, the reason people are tuning in to bad news has to do with our human psychology. Like Ryan doesn’t want to get run over by a truck in Scottsdale when he walks across the street. That’s his worry.

Ryan Isaac: Or be late for an airplane.

Reese Harper: Ryan’s not thinking rationally about the probability of that or whether he should be more concerned about what he ate for lunch, or whether he should be more concerned about the fact that he’s about to, whatever, lose a client because he didn’t call him back for three days because he was freaking out about the crosswalk on the street.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: That was not-

Ryan Isaac: I was consumed by that.

Reese Harper: He’s all consumed by it.

Ryan Isaac: That’s all I could think about.

Reese Harper: He was more concerned about surviving because you don’t want to die.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: List the things that are kind of like your main fears, and you’ll see that this is common for all of us.

Ryan Isaac: That’s the news we consume?

Reese Harper: Well it’s the things we worry about, tend to be related to some kind of survival… Our financial survival, our health survival, I mean people tune in to the flu shot news story a lot. Like at the end of the year, that’s a big one. The flu-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Yeah it’s like, the flu posters that the grocery stores and pharmacies put in the corner of the window that attract people to-

Ryan Isaac: Flu shots here!

Reese Harper: It’s time, this year’s flu shot is here! And you know you get to read about all the types of-

Ryan Isaac: Flu shot stats.

Reese Harper: Anyway, we tune into things because we’re trying to survive. Humans are trying to not die, and they’re trying to not run out of money, and they’re trying to not get sick, and they don’t want to get killed, they don’t want to get in fights, they don’t want to have conflict with other humans. So your example of not inconveniencing strangers-

Ryan Isaac: I hate inconveniencing strangers in public.

Reese Harper: That is not an uncommon thing. People don’t like to inconvenience people or create conflict. Why? It is closely linked to our survi… War and terrorism and inconveniencing strangers in public are not that unrelated.

Ryan Isaac: Well it probably comes from my caveman ancestors. Somewhere like millions of years ago, one caveman inconvenienced another, bumped him with his club, and then the other one clubbed him to death. And so it’s just in my brain, like, “Be careful out there.”

Reese Harper: Yeah, I’m just saying these are genetic traits that we have. And we try to survive more than we do anything else.

Ryan Isaac: So we’re also though consequently then, more interested in seeking out those news stories.

Reese Harper: Yes. Those are-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah. They’ll catch our attention.

Reese Harper: Those are the things that we pay attention to because we’re wired to survive.

Ryan Isaac: I’m scared of earthquakes. In the last couple months there were a couple like small quakes in Salt Lake City, like irregularly a lot of them. I read so many earthquake articles in the last month. A ton.

Reese Harper: Yeah, and that’s a normal thing.

Ryan Isaac: I just want to know.

Reese Harper: And it’s really critical to just be able to acknowledge that and the more time passes, and the more you can kind of be aware that this is happening, the more you can be more balanced in your emotional intake throughout the day. Because you can kind of be able to realize that your body, your mind, you’re compensating for some of this bad news in a disproportionately aggressive way to protect yourself from dying, getting sick, getting hurt, running out of money…

Ryan Isaac: And also it’s in the news not necessarily just because it’s actual news, or that you really need to know about it. But it’s in the news because they’ve got to make money too. And they know there’s lots of people like me-

Reese Harper: Yeah dude

Ryan Isaac: Reading about the scary stuff.

Reese Harper: Like, if all news could just be averaged together, all things that occurred in the world averaged together and put up in a screen in front of you, and ranked by category, that would be like real news. So there were 1400 of these things happening. 800 of that happening-

Ryan Isaac: Categorically ranking.

Reese Harper: Like of things, just events. Like death, life, birth, goods, bads, if there were a way to aggregate the real events in the world that were happening, it would look so different from what we call news. What we call news is marketing-

Ryan Isaac: Yes. Big time.

Reese Harper: To our fears, and it’s not because they’re trying to be bad, it’s just like they’re in business to get viewers and they’re not going to put stuff in front of you that you don’t want to see. And humans generally don’t want to see good news.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: They just don’t.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, well it’s funny, so I read-

Reese Harper: We say we do. People say they do, “I want good news, like we all love good news,”

Ryan Isaac: Yeah we say we do, we don’t. We don’t.

Reese Harper: But like you don’t tune into it the same, on average.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah I was just reading this morning an article about a city, it was a city online newspaper in another country in Europe. Big viewership. But they tried for one day, they said, “We’re only going to put positive stories on our website today. And we’re just going to track all the clicks and how long people stay on the site.” They lost two thirds of their clicks and visitors that day.

Reese Harper: Exactly.

Ryan Isaac: That day they lost two thirds of the people that normally clicked because it was all like puppies, and good weather, and like new advancements in science and technology, and happy people stories. They lost two thirds of their-

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Viewership.

Reese Harper: Even like, what news should be, like if you aggregated this thing in this big screen that I was talking about, most of it would just be like uninteresting average lives. It would be like, “Okay, like that’s just not interesting, good, or bad.”

Ryan Isaac: It would happen a lot of it got aggregated.

Reese Harper: But most people’s days are just kind of like, “Meh.”

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Meh.

Ryan Isaac: That’s what Jenni’s cat sounds like.

Reese Harper: Most governments are just kind of like, “Meh.”

Ryan Isaac: Meh.

Reese Harper: Most national countries’ war situation is kind of like, “Meh.” I mean, not to downplay the actual small amount of war that’s happening right now, but for on aggregate, it’s kind of like pretty safe, relative to what it was like in 1942 when the whole world was bombing each other.

Ryan Isaac: I mean it’s pretty boring. Yeah.

Reese Harper: Like, “Meh.” You know?

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Like in terms of the world getting worse, it actually is, it’s hard to know if that’s actually happening until you look at all news. And unfortunately we don’t have access to all news. We don’t know-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, I was actually-

Reese Harper: What’s actually happening.

Ryan Isaac: It’s just marketing. I think you said that really well.

Reese Harper: Just marketing. So let’s talk about some good stories that I think are kind of interesting.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah and I just have a question so you can tell me if you want to hit this before these good news stories, or after. My question was, how it relates to financial news. And we get articles and links sent, forwarded, texted, all the time. Every week there’s probably three or four that someone’s like, “Did you see this?”, “What do you think about this?”, you know like people forward newsletters, and articles, and blog posts. Do you get that a lot?

Reese Harper: Oh, yeah.

Ryan Isaac: So I’d be curious to know how this ties in with the common financial bad news themes that you see. And why do you think those are, why do they persist so much?

Reese Harper: I just saw one good post on a Facebook group yesterday that was like, “SMP’s Up 20% Since Christmas,” or “15% Since Christmas,”-

Ryan Isaac: No comments?

Reese Harper: And there was like 17 comments and they were all like, “Well that’s not going to last long. That’s going to go away. That’s just fake money, that’s funny money.”

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: There was no like-

Ryan Isaac: Cool!

Reese Harper: Happy, or like, “It was good, I’m glad I didn’t bail,” or, “I’m glad I have kept investing consistently since then,” just like, “Well,”-

Ryan Isaac: This is what companies do, is they grow over time, hooray. No one said that.

Reese Harper: Yeah, everyone was just kind of like, “Eh, crooked wolves on Wall Street.” We’re just worried about the one or two negative stories. Even in a relatively positive decade. We have not spent time talking about the good financial stuff that’s happened in the last 10 years. Now there have been some good things that have happened. The federal government’s balance sheet is, relative to the size of our total net worth and the government’s asset base, we’re making modest improvements. It’s not good enough, and it’s not exciting, but we don’t hear anything about anything positive. Even in a bold market for the last 10 years.

Ryan Isaac: Well you said it, even when markets go up, the consensus is like, “Yeah, but they’re coming down.”

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: “Yeah, but they’re going to crash hard.”

Reese Harper: Anyway, I don’t want to be like a Pollyanna person about all the news in the world, but I’m just saying, you’re right now getting disproportionately bombarded with bad news and you like it because you’re trying to survive.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah your brain’s like-

Reese Harper: You just want to be alive.

Ryan Isaac: You just want to be alive, man.

Reese Harper: So tell the story of this New York Times article.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, back to the New York Times-

Reese Harper: The 2018 best year in human history article, tell me one of the things that’s on there.

Ryan Isaac: So the first thing he reported was that 300,000 people around the world gained access to electricity for the first time ever.

Reese Harper: Let that sink in.

Ryan Isaac: Well yeah, I mean-

Reese Harper: Let that sink in.

Ryan Isaac: Sometimes in the first world problems, when you purposely go to a cabin without electricity, and you’re like, “This is awesome.”-

Reese Harper: “I’m living organic.”

Ryan Isaac: “I’m organically living right now.”

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: Which is always true because we’re organic beings.

Reese Harper: That’s true.

Ryan Isaac: But like you know, you go two days without that. It’s hard to imagine, what would that be like to get electricity for the first time ever in your whole life? What would be the best thing about that do you think? Refrigerated foods probably?

Reese Harper: Well being able to see at night-

Ryan Isaac: Without fire?

Reese Harper: Yeah, like not having to breathe in coal and-

Ryan Isaac: Yeah think about that, being able to see at night and storing food.

Reese Harper: Yeah. Well being able to find my iPhone when it’s battery is dead because I didn’t have a…. Oh wait.

Ryan Isaac: Because you could use the flashlight from your other one?
Okay, so that was uh, let’s see, then there was-

Jenni Colborn: You couldn’t plug your iPhone in anyway.

Ryan Isaac: What?

Jenni Colborn: You couldn’t plug your iPhone in anyway.

Reese Harper: That’s true.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, you have no iPhone.

Reese Harper: You’re right.

Ryan Isaac: It doesn’t even matter.

Reese Harper: I couldn’t do that. I like the water story that I heard last year. So last year, 305,000 people got access to clean drinking water for the first time.

Ryan Isaac: But it was like every day? Wasn’t it?

Reese Harper: Every day.

Ryan Isaac: Every day another 305,000 people got access to clean drinking water. So think if just in 2018, there’s hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people around the world that got clean water to drink, they could see at night time, and they could store some food some way.

Reese Harper: Yeah. I mean that’s pretty impressive and most of that came from societal innovation and advancements and technology and some service from people, and that’s pretty impressive. Another thing that’s kind of interesting is-

Ryan Isaac: It’s like double.

Reese Harper: 620,000 people got online for the first time. Each day in 2018. That’s crazy.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, that’s crazy. Twice the amount of people who got access to clean drinking water-

Reese Harper: Millions of people in 2018 finally got on the internet. It’s crazy.

Ryan Isaac: I wonder what they did. What was the first thing they did?

Jenni Colborn: Downloaded Instagram.

Ryan Isaac: Probably.

Reese Harper: I mean, it was almost, I think it was, I was doing the math, it was like 200 million people.

Ryan Isaac: Oh, my gosh.

Reese Harper: You know, it’s two thirds of the population of the United States somewhere around the world-

Ryan Isaac: Got online.

Reese Harper: Got online-

Ryan Isaac: And when straight to Facebook or Instagram?

Jenni Colborn: Probably one of the Kardashians’ Instagram account.

Ryan Isaac: No, they looked up bad news!

Speaker 1: They’re like, “Is there any war and terrorism going on?”

Ryan Isaac: They went to CNN and Fox and they’re like, “What are the worst stories on these sites right now?”.

Reese Harper: Yes. Here’s another one I thought was probably the most impactful from last year. The child worldwide death rate is falling significantly. It was 4% last year. 4%, which is still too many, but in, 50 years ago, if you look at like 1960, well let’s just go back to 2003. Let’s go more recent. So if you go back to 2003, the child death rate globally was 7%. We’ve almost cut it in half.

Ryan Isaac: Due to, is there like a prevailing reason?

Reese Harper: Well there’s like 17 different reasons it happens.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, one of them’s [crosstalk]

Reese Harper: And it’s mostly just the sanitary conditions, nutrition-

Ryan Isaac: Oh, childbirth-

Reese Harper: You know, and a lot of illnesses are primarily the key factor. I mean malaria’s a part of it, but that’s not the biggest one. Anyway, that’s a big deal though, cutting-

Ryan Isaac: Chopped in half since-

Reese Harper: Yeah and it’s 12, 14 years, right? I want you to share the statistic about life expectancy. If you look like in 1960, life expectancy was 52 globally, like people lived to age 52, and now as of this year, we’re at 72 globally, on average.

Ryan Isaac: That’s a really fascinating impact though if you think about money, and retirement, and savings, and not just that, but like careers too. The longer we live, the longer we have health and mental capacity and we don’t want to sit around, or we’re not going to die early. That changes a lot of things.

Reese Harper: Tons. You probably have fear though of running out of food if you think of people living longer, I imagine a part of you wonders if we’re going to run out of food.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, well, like, “Oh, more humans on the planet, huh. Cool,” yeah I’m sure we’ll be able to sustain that one.

Reese Harper: You’re not going to be able to get the quantity of tasty food that you want.

Ryan Isaac: I know. What’ll happen to donuts and tacos?

Reese Harper: But if you felt that way, you might actually be wrong.

Ryan Isaac: I know, well that’s what was surprising, is you think that we’re running out of resources, you know, how are we going to feed all these people that are living longer. Maybe there was a reason…

Reese Harper: This was something that I was kind of not sure about myself until doing the research, because I was like, “Are we really running out of resources?”. Because I found studies that do, they hypothesize that we’re going to run out of resources at our current pace, given population growth.

Ryan Isaac: I know, but then you hear things like, we throw away insane amounts of food every day, like enough to feed the whole world over many times, that we discard.

Reese Harper: Yeah and I-

Ryan Isaac: You know, my mashed potato’s getting a little cold, and I ate seven ounces of steak.

Reese Harper: There was a resource index called the Simon Abundance Index and it basically measures the price of different agricultural and forestry resources, and energy resources to try to measure whether stuff’s costing more or costing less, and between 1980 and now, almost every year it’s decreased by about, you know, it’s several percentage points. I think it’s been 40% lower today than it was-

Ryan Isaac: The cost of-

Reese Harper: In 1980 of just a unit of anything on average, if you take a unit of any commodity. Energy commodity, forestry commodity, a food commodity, like we are producing more stuff. Like in Idaho right now, in one acre they’re producing four or five times the volume of potatoes in one acre than they were producing-

Ryan Isaac: When you were farming.

Reese Harper: 20 years ago. There’s a lot of things we need to do to make improvements to our natural resources and our food consumption. I was reading… I have a couple of close friends that are vegan and I go to eat with them at this vegan restaurant-

Ryan Isaac: And they tell you the whole time…

Reese Harper: I love vegan food, and if I could honestly, I would love to try to be a vegan, it’s just really hard when you grew up eating meat. And you want to know what the most motivating factor to me would be? Is like how much more resources it takes to feed the world using meat than it does using vegetables.

Ryan Isaac: Oh really?

Reese Harper: And if everyone just cut their meat consumption by like 5%, or by 4%, or we ate more efficient meat like, cattle is one of the most inefficient meats to eat. It costs a lot to raise a cow, and feed a cow, and get cows-

Ryan Isaac: I’m just trying to picture what Ron Swanson would be looking like listening to this.

Reese Harper: But like turkey-

Ryan Isaac: I like me some turkey.

Reese Harper: Chicken, birds, like-

Ryan Isaac: Birds.

Reese Harper: Even if everyone was like, “I prefer to eat chicken over beef. I’m going to do this a certain number of times each year,” and we replaced that-

Ryan Isaac: I feel like I’m doing my part there, and I like that.

Reese Harper: It’s crazy man.

Ryan Isaac: I eat a lot of chicken.

Reese Harper: That whole math blew my mind. The economics of food consumption-

Ryan Isaac: Really? Of eating cows.

Reese Harper: Globally, I was like, “Jeez.” If all of us made just a little bit different choice, you don’t have to like not consume meat, but like the ratio at which you consume certain types of meat totally affects global food consumption in a massive way.

Ryan Isaac: Interesting.

Reese Harper: And so it just made me realize that when I’m looking at all this good news, I was like, “Great, we’re like producing more stuff, we’re getting more efficient, and on top of that, if everyone continued to improve their behaviors with energy consumption, improve your behavior with the type of carpooling you do, improve your behavior with the type of food you eat, how frequent you eat it, like how much vegetables you introduce into your life, instead of how much meat you introduce, balancing all those different things together, I mean we can really have a massive change in the overall health of our life and planet,” and I’m like-

Ryan Isaac: That’s crazy.

Reese Harper: That stuff really does matter.

Ryan Isaac: I’m still kind of stuck back at the “eat less red meat” thing though. Still trying to wrap my head around that.

Reese Harper: It’s okay dude, I’ll let you live there.

Ryan Isaac: I don’t eat a lot of red meat. But I like it.

Reese Harper: Yeah, me too, that’s the hard part.

Ryan Isaac: I mean, shout out to-

Reese Harper: I wouldn’t, my friends couldn’t quite get me to give it up.

Ryan Isaac: Switch up.

Reese Harper: But they were motivating me to conserve. I never thought about it that way.

Ryan Isaac: The most efficient meat.

Reese Harper: Yeah, he was like, “Look at how much dollars it costs to produce a pound of turkey, versus a pound of beef.” It’s like seven times the cost or something like that.

Ryan Isaac: Well, it kind of makes sense, I mean, I’m just guessing. It seems like a bird’s so much smaller, you can have more of them in one place, it’s easier to feed and contain and control, right? And store?

Reese Harper: I mean, I don’t know yet how I feel about this. I’m on the verging open end, I’m sure I’m going to get like plastered about-

Ryan Isaac: One year from now it’ll be like a vegan episode and you’ll be telling your story of how you turned vegan.

Reese Harper: Yeah, I’m just like, I was not expecting to be persuaded. This is not something that… But when you tell me that other people around the world can eat more food because I’m just going to change my diet preferences slightly-

Ryan Isaac: You go to Chick-Fil-A instead of McDonald’s.

Reese Harper: I’m like, “Ooh.” I’m not sure anymore which one’s beef and which one’s chicken. I mean it’s starting to get a little-

Ryan Isaac: A little questionable. Anyway…

Reese Harper: But anyway, I like those stories.

Ryan Isaac: Okay.

Reese Harper: I think I want to just wrap up by talking really briefly about how this correlates to the financial side.

Ryan Isaac: I was going to ask about that.

Reese Harper: And we went back and we’ll post an article on this. If you want, again the article to reference to see these links is “A Big Dose of Good News For a Change,” and Jenni’s going to email that out on our email newsletter when we get the podcast episode coming out soon.

Ryan Isaac: This is an article on our website,

Reese Harper: You can go to and look for the article “A Big Dose of Good News For a Change,” to see some of these links. But what we did was, I went back and tried to find some articles that I felt like were kind of negative news, which is typical of the financial news, and I would try to figure out if… I tried to do some testing with people to see if they knew what year a headline was from. I wanted to find out, if I give you a headline, do you know… Because they’re fairly specific issues that they’re talking about. And I wanted to just see what that feels like.

Reese Harper: Somebody play that game with our audience right now. I’m going to list a headline and I want you to think about if you think that’s a headline from today, or if you think it’s a headline from a long time ago.

Reese Harper: Okay, first headline is this, it’s a Time Magazine headline cover of Time Magazine, all right? And it looks like this. It says, “Is Capitalism Working?”

Ryan Isaac: What year?

Reese Harper: What year do you think that was from? Right?

Ryan Isaac: Well what’s funny about that in 2019, we’re coming up on a pretty emotional election cycle.

Reese Harper: Yeah.

Ryan Isaac: And there’s some really polarizing views about capitalism and socialism and how we should structure future governments to really take care of the people.

Reese Harper: Oh yeah.

Ryan Isaac: You could easily be like, “Oh, that’s 2019, that’s February 2019.”

Reese Harper: But anyway, this was actually, this article headline was from 1980.

Ryan Isaac: Oh, that’s my birth year.

Reese Harper: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Ryan Isaac: What a great year.

Reese Harper: Yeah. Time started this way, when they opened up the article, it said, “In an age of economic anxiety, there are real and rising concerns about whether free enterprise can surmount the problems of inflation, energy, and productivity in our economy. The relentless daily pounding,” anyway. They go on, and you read that first paragraph and you’re like, “This is 2019 maybe.”

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, February 2019-

Reese Harper: And it’s 1980. Here’s another one that I think is a really interesting one. Imagine this one is getting… This one would’ve been really, really hard to know a few years ago. The headline of the magazine article, again, is, “America’s Banks Are Awash in Troubles,” and it has a picture of a bank and that bank is floating in the sea, and it’s got all this money around it-

Ryan Isaac: It’s awash.

Reese Harper: It’s “America’s Banks Are Awash in Troubles.”

Ryan Isaac: What year? That’s the question.

Reese Harper: A lot of people that I gave this to felt like it was just a few years ago, in the recession.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: Probably not today, like 2019.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah you’re not hearing-

Reese Harper: Could’ve been a few years ago.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: And this one was actually from 1984.

Ryan Isaac: Man.

Reese Harper: “Bankers now face their most strenuous survival test since the Great Depression.” How many times have you heard that about the Great Recession?

Ryan Isaac: Oh yeah.

Reese Harper: This was an article from 1984, and that was the headline, is we are facing the most strenuous test since the Great Depression. Everyone uses the Great Depression as reference point for how bad current policy or current issues are, and I think we’ll be using that for the next 40 years.

Ryan Isaac: Forever.

Reese Harper: Probably never going to get as bad as the Great Depression.

Ryan Isaac: Let’s hope not.

Reese Harper: There’s a lot of reasons why not.

Ryan Isaac: 1984. Banks awash in 1984. Yeah, you could say, I don’t think most people would say in the last couple of years, but for sure everyone would point to like, “Oh anywhere between ’07 and 2012.”

Reese Harper: Yeah, like it would be really hard. And the article first paragraph, I read you the first sentence but it says, “Because of poor management, overzealous lending, and over zealous lending, commercial banks’ profits have been battered.”

Ryan Isaac: Man.

Reese Harper: “This is the clearest example of the industry’s chaos, as we look at a growing string of financial failures.”

Ryan Isaac: Crazy.

Reese Harper: That just feels very ’08.

Ryan Isaac: That’s so ’08.

Reese Harper: ’09, 2010, like feels very Big Short.

Ryan Isaac: That’s what everyone would say.

Reese Harper: It feels very Big Short.

Ryan Isaac: That’s such a good show. Great book.

Reese Harper: We could go on for quite a while on this, but I could give you article after article and headline after headline and magazine cover after magazine cover. You will not be, in most of these cases, you could interject these headlines in multiple years. Sometimes in any one calendar year. There’s a big one called The Crash. The biggest stock market crash in history was a day called Black Friday, it was 1987, and it was like a mass, it was the biggest single one day drop in the SMP in history. And since that point in time, there’s been a ton of articles written entitled, “The Crash,” or…

Ryan Isaac: “Black Friday”

Reese Harper: Something significant like that. And I think that you could put that headline article in any one calendar year at certain moments and people wouldn’t know the difference.

Ryan Isaac: They wouldn’t know. Yeah.

Reese Harper: Like I think that would’ve been December of this year for some people.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, well I never had Christmas Eve, man!

Reese Harper: Christmas time!

Ryan Isaac: Christmas Eve, I remember thinking like, “Why are the markets open and why are they going down so much on Christmas Eve,” you know, “This is not cool.”

Reese Harper: Totally.

Ryan Isaac: It could’ve been The Crash.

Reese Harper: So what’s the summary of this? You summarize and wrap this up.

Ryan Isaac: Well the way I think about this, kind of going back to what I said earlier. Every week without fail, I get forwarded, and I mean some of these, I love when people send these, so don’t take this like stop sending me stuff, because some of them are really good and really insightful. But every week there’s articles and blog posts and links that are forwarded, we’re pulled into forum discussions. We have our own group,, there’s all these other financial Facebook forums, and I guess my takeaway is that it’s just so easy to get caught up in that. It’s so easy to just get caught up in the bad news or the negative and kind of just the hype of something negative. That everything’s just going to crash and tumble and it’s just like, things hardly ever actually work that way.

Ryan Isaac: So my takeaway is, it’s not easy because I still will click on earthquake articles, and I’m clicking on a lot of global warming articles, so I’m scared of it now. So it’s not easy, but just being aware of it like you said earlier. If you’re a little bit more aware of it, then maybe you can stop and slow down when you read an article and go, “Okay, what’s the other side of this story?”, there is another side to this story that’s not being told. What is it?

Reese Harper: Yeah. I like that. I would summarize in a similar way. I may be adding a little bit different flavor. I would just say make sure that you don’t act on bad news. Don’t take an action based on bad news. Be really careful when you take in your news and information. Just be cautious about it, and think and contemplate the news that you’re taking in and decide if your action is being taken on. If you’re taking action on bad news because it really does change the game for you, it changes the facts on the ground are now different for you, like your life.

Reese Harper: For some people, if we had a bad enough stock market crisis, like one we’ve never seen before and you were in a situation where that significantly affected your immediate plans because you also had something happen with your practice, or you also had something happen with your employment, or you also had something happen with your family situation, your marriage, like that significantly changed the facts about your case, then maybe some of this bad news-

Ryan Isaac: It’s relevant to click on.

Reese Harper: Something you can act on. But in the vast majority of cases, people are acting on bad news when the underlying fundamentals of their life would not change. And shouldn’t change. So I would-

Ryan Isaac: That’s a good one.

Reese Harper: We need to keep seeking out ways to fix our trade deficits of the country, like improve our federal deficit and not have budget overruns, try to have good personal budgets and run our practices effectively. You know, we’ve got to improve… We don’t want to have another financial crisis. We don’t want to have another banking disaster and we don’t want to have any looming recessions over our head if we can help it.

Ryan Isaac: But they’re going to happen.

Reese Harper: We’re going to work toward fixing those things. Let’s work toward fixing them. But the good news I think, the real good news to me is that all of this continuing innovation, the work that Ryan’s doing every day, that your practice is doing every day, the dental industry’s doing every day, that banks are trying to do every day. All this collective human brain power going to work, it’s making things marginally better all the time.

Reese Harper: Most people in the world are innovators that are fixing things. And that ultimately is what the global stock market reflects. That’s the beauty of having an investment portfolio in something as diverse and as innovative as the stock market is.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah because you’re capturing all of that human innovation and the motivation. And the pressure to change and get better and get cheaper and make more money and have more profits.

Reese Harper: Yeah and the promise that the market’s making to you and your portfolio is that you’re never going to have a recession, or go through setbacks or make mistakes or have problems. The promise is that all of our collective brainpower is going to continue to work harder that next time around to improve things even better.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah.

Reese Harper: And that’s why since 1926 you’re seeing the highest average annual return of any asset class in history.

Ryan Isaac: That you literally hardly have to do anything with.

Reese Harper: And it’s just all that innovation that’s coming through. And I just think it’s important to remember that and stay rational.

Ryan Isaac: I think it’s a cool principle. Stay rational.

Reese Harper: Stay rational about the news you’re taking in.

Ryan Isaac: All right.

Reese Harper: So, thanks for joining us today.

Ryan Isaac: Yeah, thanks for listening. Okay, we can end with this because I think this is an important thing too, is as you hear information and news and stories from friends and family, it’s important that you have an anchor back to your own reality and your own situation. That’s what the elements that we created is for. That’s why knowing, “What am I worth, and how fast is my net worth growing?”, and, “What do I actually save, what do I make? And what do I spend?”, and, “What are my debts, what are my interest rates?”. Having an anchor and just some solid organization changes that a lot too.

Ryan Isaac: Because you can hear bad news, and be like, “That feels really scary, it feels really impactful,” and then go to your plan and go, “Oh, but I’m okay. I’m still headed in the right direction,” so anyway thanks for joining us. If you’d like to talk to one of our advisors, we have a great schedule that you can call them on. I wouldn’t say wide open. It’s not 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but you can call someone. You can call us at 833-DDS-PLAN, you can text that number, which is really cool, or you can just go to our website and schedule an appointment at your own convenience on a lunchtime, or after hours, or maybe even a Saturday every once in a while. Go to, click “book free consultation” and schedule an appointment to talk with one of our financial advisors. Or go to our Facebook group, ask us some questions, join a poll, join a conversation, add some comments.

Reese Harper:

Ryan Isaac: Thanks for listening again.

Reese Harper: Carry on.

Reese Harper: Thanks again for listening, guys. I really hope that you enjoyed the show.

Behavioral Finance

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