The truth about being a contrarian

The truth about being a contrarian is that it is a tough position to have. Cassandras, futurists, technical experts, etc. are the people who inevitably hold the minority opinion on a topic. They may be sought out to entertain, educate or just as an intellectual freak show. They are often the punching bag that conventional wisdom takes some cheap shots on. But it can wear on the contrarian.

Yes, I have been a contrarian my whole life and it's not because I choose to be, but because I think differently. Sometimes I come off as a contrarian just because I give voice to an angle of an issue that has been woefully missed, even if I don't agree with it. In those cases, bringing it up is often to get the angle discussed a bit, shed some light on it, and not to argue that it is right or wrong. Sometimes it is because I just see more angles on a subject, or I can cut through to the heart of an issue rather than be distracted by side issues or minutiae. Contrarianism comes in many flavors.

My contrarian opinions are not always right, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the blues don't come from batting less than twenty percent. The contrarian blues don't happen because the contrarian has the minority opinion and loses a lot. The blues happen to the person who brings a contrarian opinion to bear and no one pays attention to it. They can't get past the velvet rope of conventional thinking/wisdom. Agreeing with the conventional wisdom seems to be the prerequisite for participating in a discussion on many many different subjects.

Ironically, some of you may be assuming that I am subtly referring to work. This is actually not true at all - work seems to be more open to thinking differently than ever before, or maybe I am less contrarian than usual. I am really referring to society at large, from public policy to product design to traffic management, it seems like the barring of contrarianism has become more commonplace.

A near perfect natural experiment in this regard will happen very shortly. The President has called for a jobs summit, because the conventional wisdom, and the politically expedient options, apparently have not worked and unemployment is over 10%. He seems very open to any and all ideas that may work, so the contrarians should be able to at least not be barred or ignored.

Let's see if 1) anyone gets in who has contrarian ideas, and 2) if the media, or the administration, or its critics listens to those ideas. It is perfectly okay to reject them out of hand, the point is to see if these ideas are let into the discussion at all.

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