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A contrarian is a person who takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be. Contrarian styles of argument and disagreement have historically been associated with radicalism and dissent.
Contrarian tropes in journalism
Contrarian journalism is characterised by articles and books making counterintuitive claims, or attacking what is said to be the conventional wisdom (a phrase attributed to John Kenneth Galbraith) on a given topic. A typical contrarian trope takes the form "everything you know about topic X is wrong".
Supporters and critics
Paul Krugman, an economist and columnist for The New York Times, has criticised "contrarianism without consequences" in relation to the debate over global warming and the controversy over the bookSuperfreakonomics, saying "The refusal of the Superfreakonomists to take responsibility for their failed attempt to be cleverly contrarian on climate change is a sad spectacle to watch ... having paraded their daring contrarianism, the freakonomists are trying to wiggle out of the consequences when it turns out that they were wrong."
The counterattack takes place via a contrarian lens, one that projects the attackers' vices onto their target. Thus the problem becomes not Monsanto using questionable tactics to push its products onto a wary South, but malevolent agents of the rich world obstructing Monsanto's acceptance in a welcoming Third World. For this reason the press release for the "Bullshit Award" accuses [Vandana] Shiva, amongst other things, of being "a mouthpiece of western eco-imperialism". The media contact for this symbolic rejection of neocolonialism? The American, Kendra Okonski. The mouthpiece denouncing an Indian environmentalist as an agent of the West is a ... Western mouthpiece.
-- Monsanto's Fake Parade: Biotech companies and their PR firms have created a network of front organizations that pretend to represent the poor and farmers in developing countries and urge the use of biotechnology to save the world, by Jonathan Matthews--
Contrarianism in science
In science, the term "contrarian" is often applied to those who reject the scientific consensus on some particular issue, as well as to scientists who pursue research strategies which are rejected by most researchers in the field. Contrarians are particularly prominent in cases where scientific evidence bears on political, social or cultural controversies, such as disputes over policy responses toclimate change, or creationism versus evolution.
Writers on scientific topics commonly described as "contrarian" include David Berlinski, a critic of mainstream views on evolution, and Richard Lindzen, a critic of the scientific consensus on climate change. Bjørn Lomborg, who accepts the scientific consensus on climate change but argues against action to mitigate it, has been called "the poster boy of the contrarian trend".
Scientific contrarianism is frequently referred to, favorably, as skepticism and is criticised as a form ofdenialism. An example of the latter usage is climate change denialism.
A contrarian investing style is one that is based on identifying, and speculating against, movements in stock prices that reflect changes in the sentiments of the majority of investors.
1. Safire, William (April 9, 1989). "Gun That Rumor Down". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20,2015.
2. Patterson, James T. (November 24, 2012). "Everything you know about the 1960s is wrong". Salon. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
3. Krugman, Paul (23 October 2009). "Contrarianism without consequences". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
4. "Copenhagen climate change conference 2009: climate contrarians". The Daily Telegraph. November 25, 2009. Retrieved February 20, 2015.