Are the Details Important?

I'm one of those people who pays attention to details. It makes my life more complicated, but at least when I communicate, I am doing the best I can to enable the other person to understand what I am saying or writing. [A previous poll shows that readers of this blog prefer extra details in the commentary]

I find it difficult to place myself in the position of someone to whom the details don't matter.  Conversations with friends who use a word that can have several different – all logical – meanings is stressful for me.  I don't 'get' their meaning and when I request clarification they look at me as if I were from another planet because I did not understand what they said.

Does anyone else have that problem?

The reason I mention this is because I want to review some books on options trading for this blog.  But I've encountered a problem.

What am I supposed to say when the author makes a mistake?  I'm referring to a serious mistake where the writer is presenting something untrue as fact.  But – should anyone give it a second thought if that error is inconsequential?  If no reader will lose money or mismanage a position because of that 'fact,' does that make the error of no importance?  Is it right to recommend a book that contains several such errors?  Is it fair to condemn the entire book due to a few, unimportant mistakes?  A quandary.

One best-selling book states that expiration occurs on "the 3rd Saturday of the month."  This error has been repeated through several editions.  Many people refer to the 3rd Friday as expiration day.    But, technically, expiration is Saturday morning, following
the 3rd Friday.

For detail-oriented people, this is a significant difference.  Sure expiration is the 3rd Saturday most of the time – but not when the date is Saturday, the 15th.  When that happens, expiration occurs one week later.  To the casual reader – one who doesn't care about the details – this statement does no harm.  But, if it's possible that a trader who accepts the author's 'fact' may make a bad trading decision believing that expiration is Saturday, the 15th when it's really the 22nd, can the error be ignored?  How important is this error when reviewing the entire book?

What happens if there are many such careless errors?  I have seen such a book.  It's the same best-seller as mentioned above.  The mistakes continue edition after edition.  How can anyone write a negative review for a book that has been so widely accepted?

But other books also contain errors of fact.  If I had not written any books, I'd point out any errors that I find.  But as an author, if I write a negative review, it may appear as if I were promoting my book by being negative on the competition.  And even worse: what happens if I write negative reviews based on such errors and then someone finds mistakes of fact in one of my books?  That would be embarrassing.

If I were not so focused on the details I'd be able to ignore errors that are harmless.


One Response to Are the Details Important?

  1. OptionsDoctor 09/14/2009 at 7:15 AM #

    I practiced Pathology for over 25 years. One of my main duties was writing reports on tissue biopsies. There is no such thing as an innocent error; you cannot possibly consider all potential ramifications of an error.
    An error is an error and needs to be rectified as quickly as possible. Trading options is inherently sufficiently complex without further having to deal with errors of fact.