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The Art of Contrary Thinking Paperback – January 1, 1954

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Years of observation and analysis of economic trends from the vantage point of Wall Street did not rub his Vermont heritage out of his face, or speech, or heart. Since 1828, generations of Neills have occupied their homestead in Saxtons River, Vermont. A book-lined room off the kitchen of the venerable house served Humphrey Neill as his editorial workshop, while the former harness room in the big barn housed his research library and his newspaper and bulletin files. From these sanctums he wrote his well-known Letters of Contrary Opinion.

After a decade of apprenticeship with such organizations as the Brookmire Economic Service, Humphrey Neill established himself as a business writer whose lively, human approach to a "dusty" facts-and-figures science brought him nationwide attention. His many published books include Tape Reading and Market Tactics (1931), Understanding American Business (1939), and The Inside Story of the Stock Exchange (1950).

Throughout his active business life Humphrey B. Neill observed, researched, and recorded data from which he developed the theory of Contrary Opinion.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 201 pages
  • Publisher: Caxton Press; 6 Enlarged edition (January 1, 1954)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087004110X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870041105
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Stoll on August 23, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Neill lays out in short, specific chapters, his arguments for why popular opinions often times turn out to be wrong, while the opposite, contrary opinion, would turn out to be corrrect. The historical examples he uses make one wonder if the "New Economy" of the 1990's is really just a precursor to the types of events seen in the late 1920's/early 1930's and the early 1950's, when prominent economists touted a New Era of prosperity (we all know what the happened afterwards).
Mr. Neill also cites past writers who analyzed the behavior of man, and how he gets caught up in the "herd". While sometimes getting off the subject, Mr. Neill lays out a clear framwork of how one assesses what the "popular" opinion is, and how to teach yourself not to get caught up in the herd and to think independantly.
A highly recommended book for those who wish to understand how contrary minds think, or for those who need a "refresher" (getting your mind out of a rut according to Neill).
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Format: Paperback
Often, less experienced investors overlook the big picture topics such as macroeconmics and behavioral finance and focus on the investment book of the month which is invariably trash. This book was originally written many decades ago and the fact that it is still selling is a testiment to its quality.

When you look at al of the current investment books out in print, how many do you think will still be selling 40 years from now? Of course, back then, the publishing world was selective. Today, it focuses on publishing books about investing by big name preachers and sports legends or psychopaths with useless TV shows because they know people will buy them.

If you cannot appreciate this book then you have a very long way to go towards becoming a good investor. And if you are a good investor, this book is just another step towards your progression into a great investor.
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Format: Paperback
A collection of old essays by Neill who followed the market steadily from the depression days to his death in 1977. Neill is from a long gone generation of men and his words don't always translate well to today's Nintendo generation. Neill's sometimes odd writing style doesn't help the flow any. It took me multiple reading to grasp his style and some points. He's mature, seasoned, a real American original. I think it's a Vermont thing.

But the genius of this book lies within the valuable insights and nuggets of wisdom spread out randomly within. That said, some essays are of questionable relevance or downright archaic. But many are golden and relate to all generations. If you have ever REALLY put some skin-in-the-game, you'll relate to his views on patience, risk, and learning to think from both sides of the coin. Find these easter eggs and you will become a better investor.

The book is inexpensive and a must-buy for anyone seeking to invest their own money.
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Format: Paperback
It has been nearly 15 years since I first read this fine book by Humphrey B. Neill, but upon the second reading I realized that what he was really discussing was behavioral finance before such a thing became a part of our lexicon. Now of course, there seems to be a book published every month, or week, on the subject with respect to behavioral finance or the social sciences.

However, this is not your typical book as it really is not a book at all but a collection of prior essays by the author. Mr. Neill published the "Neill's Letters of Contrary Opinion" beginning in 1947 until his death in 1977. Many of these letters/essays later became the book which was originally published in 1954, though updated in later editions. As such, since this is a compilation of letters/essays there is some overlap in the essays as they are written in different years. The author also published another book on technical analysis called "Tape Reading" which confuses some folks as this book has very little to do with technical analysis, if any. The main theme is stated very clearly in the first few pages as "Human behavior is fully as important as, if not more important than, statistical behavior." So on my second reading reflection, this book really is about historical market behavior with many references to other books which would now be classified under the Behavioral Finance heading.

As Warren Buffett's sidekick Charlie Munger is want to say, and to paraphrase, "if you want to be a good investor you must read extensively and know your history." This book is as much about history as it is about the observations of human nature and crowd psychology. All told, The Art of Contrary Thinking may not have made me any money, but it kept me from losing a significant amount over the years. So with that background, this book comes highly recommended for any investment library shelf.
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An excellent book if you want to think!, what I meant by that is, the author gives you scenarios about when you would use contrary thinking and you have to think and apply the scenario to a time that you have in mind,also talks about mass crowd mentalaty,what kind of people follow the crowd etc.
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This is a really good read illustrating the madness of crowds and the virtues of contrarian thinking. I would suggest anyone with a bit of time on their hands interested in expanding their independent thought process to have a look at this book.
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