Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cause and effect

Jinxed mobile no suspended after 3 users die in 10 yrs
London: A jinxed Bulgarian mobile phone number—+359 888 888 888—has been suspended after three users died in the last 10 years, the last owner being gunned down outside an Indian eatery in Sofia, a media report said.
The first owner, Vladimir Grashnov, the former chief executive officer of Bulgarian mobile phone company Mobitel—which issued the number—died of cancer in 2001, aged 48. There were rumours that his cancer was caused by a trade rival using radioactive poisoning, the Daily Mail reported.
The jinxed number was then passed on to Bulgarian mafia boss Konstantin Dimitrov. He was gunned down in 2003 by an assassin in the Netherlands during a trip to inspect his 500-million-pound drug smuggling empire. Dimitrov, who died aged 31, had the mobile with him when he was shot while dining with a model.
The next person to be handed the number was businessman Konstantin Dishliev. He was also gunned down outside an Indian restaurant in Sofia in 2005.
Dishliev had been running a secret cocaine trafficking operation. He died after 130 million pounds of the drug was intercepted by the police while being smuggled from Colombia. Callers now get a recorded message saying the phone is “outside network coverage”. PTI
Report in Times of India, Mumbai edition, page 24, May 27, 2010

The above item in today’s Times of India caught my attention. I do not know why, but it just happened.
But when I read through it, I found it really very interesting. The news item brings out one interesting characteristic of human nature – finding patterns. We have been programmed to find patterns and large part of our knowledge is acquired through this mode of learning. It is instinctive to us – Pavlov exhibited this through his experiment with the dogs.
In the above example, people saw the link between the phone number and premature deaths. However, a wise person would like to question the “cause and effect” relationship – 2 out of the 3 above were involved in activities where the risk of death anyway was very high.
As investors we often make similar mistake of linking two completely unrelated events and take our investment decisions. It pays to stop before acting on such “coincidences” and ask a few questions.