E35: Herd Animals, Stoics, Independents, and Contrarians

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Episode Summary:

Listen to the full episode on iTunes (and please leave a rating to help the podcast reach more people): E35: Herd Animals, Stoics, Independents, and Contrarians

  • There are 4 modes of being: Herd Animal, Stoic, Independent, and Contrarian.
  • You can look at it visually like this: Herd Animal————————Stoic——Independent——————Contrarian
  • Herd Animal = Go with the crowd, fit in, be nice, and stampede in collective panic.
  • Stoic = Self-centered and serene, focused on one’s own world and work.
  • Being stoic will lead to a fulfilling life.
  • Being stoic is the low hanging fruit of effort therefore you should strive to be stoic in as many areas as possible.
  • Independent = Going with/against crowd, but without any strong emotion attached.
  • Contrarian = Taking a stand for something and against the crowd for profit/ideology.
  • If you go against the herd most of the time, you will by default be wrong most of the time.
  • You need a studied opinion to be right most of the time and you must be indifferent in regards to going with or against the crowd. (Independent way of being).
  • Example of studied opinion: Ludvig doesn’t eat breakfast or consume media because through extensive study and experimentation he has come to the conclusion that the cons outweigh the pros.
  • Before you take a contrarian stance on something, you must first do your best to make sure your opinion is right because when you’re contrarian and wrong you lose credibility.
  • You want to be intelligently contrarian to avoid losing credibility.
  • As a result, you can only be a contrarian in the areas of life you have a lot of knowledge about (usually just a few areas).
  • Being a contrarian is a prerequisite to big success.
  • When you’re contrarian it can go both ways: You can become the top 1% or the bottom 1%.
  • To become the 1% you have to do what 1/100 does. You have to be considered really weird by the herd.
  • An unthinking contrarian will have a miserable life. E.g. the rebellious kids in the back of the class.
  • However, an intelligent contrarian will set himself up for big success.

Oskar Faarkrog

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  1. I think you have the hierarchy of independent v. contrarian confused. The successful contrarian you describe is selectively contrarian and makes sure of being correct; i.e., he is independent (not influenced by the crowd, even reactively). The man who is contrarian for the sake of defying the herd is still influenced by it, and is likely to end up in your bottom 1%. I would rank him as a kind of herd follower, because he fills a role that is created and accepted (though not respected) by the herd.

    An Independent may take a position for profit, but not ideology, and will weight risk heavily. The “contrarian” top 1% may have the same considered opinion, but is willing to take big risks for it.

    Herd Contrarian: Opinions reflexively defy the herd, actions are chaotic.

    Herd Animal: Opinions and actions follow the herd.

    Stoic: No opinions, actions are a matter of convenience.

    Independent: Opinions based on evidence and reason, actions are conservative.

    Contrarian: Opinions may go beyond what can be supported, actions are risky.

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