The Turtle Traders: Nature vs. Nurture in Forex Trading

Updated from its original posting on 2012-10-12

Here’s a popular trading statistic that’s thrown around a lot in the retail forex world: 95% of traders fail. With such a high exit rate, you’d think that being a good trader is genetic!

But the fact of the matter is that nobody is born a good trader. Successful traders are made, not born. Nothing can prove this concept more than the story of the Turtle Traders.

In 1983, two commodity traders, Richard Dennis and Bill Eckhardt, got into a heated debate on whether being a good trader was a product of genes or if it could be taught.

It was the classic nature versus nurture debate.

Eckhardt believed that exceptional trading came from within and that it could not be taught. Dennis, on the other hand, argued that anybody could be a good trader through proper forex education.

Their argument got so intense that they decided to put their theories to the test. Dennis recruited 23 people from all sorts of different backgrounds and started a training program to help see how each would perform after some training. In their training, each recruit was given a set of trading rules to follow, but in the end, it was entirely up to them how they would trade.

Dennis called his recruits “The Turtles” and gave each of them $1 million to trade with. Within 4 years, the group as a whole made a sum of over $100 million. The most successful of them during that experiment, Curtis Faith (pictured to the right), was only NINETEEN when he first started the program.

The Turtles experiment proved that you don’t need to have a “trader gene” to become good at trading and that almost anybody can become an excellent trader with the right tools and lots of practice.

The story of the Turtle Traders is truly a motivating one. Whenever you feel down and think that you’re just not born for trading, think of the Turtle Traders. They had almost ZERO prior trading experience yet most, if not all of them were able to make big cash during their run with Richard and Dennis. They essentially learned from trial and error, and from experience.

So always remember to train well, young padawan. It is nurture, not nature that is more important in shaping the trader mindset.



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  • KINGSLEY OPOKU-SARKODIE

    What an encouragement. I am going to follow the turtle method with patience and self discipline.

    • Dr. Pipslow

      Glad you found this encouraging. Best of luck in your trading endeavor!

  • Greg Kozma

    I’m afraid this 95% myth is not true, just look it up, the number is more like ~60%…

  • NoMindtrader

    I think the number is 90….it is the 90-90-90 rule…90% of the people loose 90% of their money in the first 90 days of trading… so i’ll support the 95% as i don’t want to be pedantic…..

    • Dr. Pipslow

      Yeouch! Yeah I’ve heard about that 90-90-90 rule too. Sad reality.

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