Contrarianism is a methodology, not a goal.

Contrarianism is key to exceptional returns and legacy companies. I’ve noticed there is some sort of fetish of contrarianism in Silicon Valley. It’s mistaken for weak converse statements. Avoid lazy opposites, search for contrarian truths which yield actionable ideas with power.

“But leanness is a methodology, not a goal.”

– Peter Thiel in Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future.

Contrarians understand the importance of being contrarian and right. Many think contrarians are perpetual cynics that disagree for the sake of disagreement. The reality is that contrarians are long-term independent thinkers who are humble and courageous. 

Contrarians understand public opinion is inevitable in society and markets. Shaped by beliefs and desire, public opinion follows events, rather than lead it. Public opinions are at the whims of greed, fear, envy, impulsivity, pride, and hope. As Rene Girard would note, the public is also prone to mimicry and imitation, often cultivating popular delusions and psychosocial phenomena. This is where the opportunity is.
However, Gabriel Tarde’s Les Lois Sociales: no “logical separation between voluntary and involuntary imitation exist.” Imitation and Contagion diffuse beliefs and desires across society: variables endogenous to each other’s strength. In other words, there is a degree of mimicry even in antithesis. This can be highly problematic. It’s important when being contrarian to have some understanding of a Triadic Law:

A. The general opinion (prevailing thesis).

B. The contrary, or skeptical analysis (the antithesis).

C. The conclusion you arrive at (or synthesis of the common and opposing viewpoints).