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A contrarian is a person who holds a contrary position, especially a position against the majority.
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". Film critic Pauline Kael was a noted contrarian, often lambasting critically acclaimed films.
In science, the term "contrarian" is often applied to those who challenge or 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 to climate change, or creationism versus relatively gradual evolution over a span of millions of years.
- Devil's advocate
- Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens, a noted contrarian
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)