When my oldest son was in eighth grade he came home, sat down for dinner, and excitedly started telling the whole family that the local Chinese restaurant was serving cat. He’d heard the rumor from one of his friends and believed it immediately because it was such a great story.
Being the evil father that I am, I couldn’t help asking him a few questions about cats and restaurants. I first asked him how much meat was on a cat. Next I asked him how much meat was on a chicken. On a pig? On a cow? Then I asked him about the price of a pound of chicken, beef, or pork.
“Yeah, but cats are free”, he responds. So I told him to think about the last time we ordered Chinese food and estimate how many pounds of meat he thought the restaurant used in a day. Then I asked, “How many cats would they have to catch every day to supply the restaurant?”
This is when the light went on for him. He could see the logistical problem of catching every cat in the neighborhood, serving them as orange chicken, and destroying the supply of cats in less than a day. So I finally asked, “Do you think they’re serving cat?”
He concluded, “Probably not.”
It took me about 5 minutes of forcing him to think about the story to convince him the neighborhood cats were safe. If he had thought for himself he could have come to the right conclusion in less than 30 seconds with the knowledge he had about the world just in his head.
A few weeks later one of my other kids came home spouting nonsense and I was proud to hear my oldest say, “If you believe that, you think the Chinese restaurant is serving cat.”
Now when someone in my family parrots propaganda, talking points, or a silly story they’ll often be told by one of their siblings, “You’re eating cat.”
Too often I see financial reporters and commentators repeating a good or simple story without thinking about it first. If you want to make money in the market you have to think for yourself and stop eating cat.