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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.
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".
- Devil's advocate
- Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens, a noted contrarian
- Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Reverse psychology
- Safire, William (April 9, 1989). "Gun That Rumor Down". The New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- Patterson, James T. (November 24, 2012). "Everything you know about the 1960s is wrong". Salon. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
- Pauline Kael's last broadcasts.-Internet Archive
- "Copenhagen climate change conference 2009: climate contrarians". The Daily Telegraph. November 25, 2009. Archived from the original on September 21, 2014. Retrieved February 20, 2015.