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The Art of Contrary Thinking

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  165 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Distributed by the University of Nebraska Press for Caxton Press
"When everybody thinks alike, everyone is likely to be wrong."  The ten words quoted above are, according to Humphrey B. Neill, a potent factor behind the economic booms and busts that blight our civilization.  The "Mississippi Bubble", Holland's incredible "Tulipmania" and the New York stock market crash of 1
Paperback, 201 pages
Published January 1st 1954 by Caxton Press
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First published in 1954 and updated in subsequent editions by the author until 1963, this book predates various observations and topics of modern behavioral economics.
To understand and appreciate it, you need to keep in mind it was written during the era when Keynesianism was ruling undisputed (roughly from 1945 to 1973), and both social scientists and policy makers were thinking of the prosperity puzzle as solved and of human economic activity as predictable.
Neill was going against the grain, p
Dave Lefevre
Dec 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The thesis "When everybody thinks alike, Everyone is likely to be wrong," is instructive, though the vast majority of this book is not. First, it has not aged well. If you are reading this for insight into the way of the world today the second section of the book won't help a bit. Second, Neill often fails to apply his own contrarian thinking strategy to his own dogma. He's anti-Communist, pro trickle-down economics, anti "liberal" in a way that challenges any current right-wing zealot, and he c ...more
This is one of the few general books on contrary thinking that exists. More specifically, there are gazillion publications on value investing but only a handful on contrarian investing. This book is built on a pamphlet and a collection of essays from the 1940s and 1950s. Humphrey Neill was a stock market trader who had retired to the scenic landscape of Vermont from where he sent out the monthly Neill Letters of Contrary Opinion.

Although the language is a bit formal it is also obvious that the a
Joel Mitchall
Jan 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
"When everybody thinks alike, everyone is likely to be wrong".

First published in 1954, this has become one of those books that no doubt sits on many people's bookshelves gathering dust, and, judging from the 3.7 rating on Goodreads (from 111 ratings, #99,102 on the Bestsellers Rank), I would hazard a guess that most people haven't actually read the thing.

But then again, maybe that's the joke? One of Neill's arguments (though it's not his own, at least it's relevant) is that crowd behaviour influ
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very good thinking manual for value investors
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are 2 books that Nicolas Darvas re-read each week:
Gerald Loeb's "The battle for Investment Survival" and
This One.
Trang Nguyễn
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Bài học rút ra từ csach: hãy suy nghĩ kĩ 1 vấn đề về mọi khía cạnh, không nên đi theo đám đông chỉ vì họ nghĩ như thế
Jan Bos
Nice argument in favour of the contrarian way of thinking. Written in the early 50s, it is striking how many issues still prevail today, or have become even bigger problems. For example, on the need to be sceptical about what one reads in the press, Neill writes:

"None of us can estimate the vast amount of opinion-forming that is attempted in our reading matter. Newspapers and magazines (and privately printed "letters") are loaded with viewpoints and impressions - some true-to-facts, a lot of it
Jul 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although the book is written in early 50's, it is still relevant. One must however acknowledge that being contrarian does not work all the time. There is a famous saying that markets can be irrational longer than you are solvent. One should also remember that the markets are now linked globally than ever. This has been evident from the market turmoil due to Asian crisis in 90's, credit crisis and reaction to Brexit. A contrarian now has to view all facts and possibly weigh in some unknowns into ...more
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
a classic from 1954 - eitehr you have a money mind or you do not!!

when everyone thinks alike they are likely to be wrong

ruminate in directions opposite to prevailing public opinion

it is extremely hard to admit to error in judgment or opinion

tidal movements and waves of public opinion

economics is guessy

the more prominence a forecast is the less likely it is to be accurate

fear hope greed wishful thinking
Feb 11, 2011 rated it liked it
I found the book often repetitive, but Neil does makes good points about crowd behavior and the desire to be involved when one really shouldn't. I wish it would give examples of when groupthink ("wisdom of the crowds") trumps the contrarian individual. ...more
Pyoungsung Choi
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
공산주의와 사회주의에 대한 비난이 30%는 차지하는 느낌이다. 그리고 다른 도서 추천이나 인용이 많고 자신의 주장에 대한 근거는 빈약하다. 사회과학도서들도 데이터에 기반하지 않으면 부실함을 비난받는 요즘에는 너무 시대에 뒤떨어지는 책이다. 책이 출간되었던 당시 상황을 감안하면 이해가 안 되는 것도 아니지만 앙드레 코스톨라니의 책들이 그럼에도 많은 지혜를 제공해주는 것과는 사뭇 비교된다.
Kathleen D'urso
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly applicable to almost every aspect of your life--both personal, career, and in school.
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Twists, turns, red herrings, the usual suspects: These books have it all...and more. If you love mysteries and thrillers, get ready for dozens...
126 likes · 29 comments
“Goethe, the great poet-philosopher, once wrote: “I find more and more that it is well to be on the side of the minority, since it is always the more intelligent.” 1 likes
“When governments, including our own, carry great debt loads, it behooves thoughtful citizens to recall occasionally the disastrous inflations of the past, the illusions of bootstrap economics—which always are accompanied by crowd hysteria.11” 0 likes
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