Skip to main content

Human Nature and Contrarianism

As I wandered through the neighborhood farmer’s market this morning with my wife I passed by this most incredible stand serving sublime French pastries.  People were literally making orgasmic sounds as they bit into some of the offerings.  It took great willpower, and the firm hand of my wife, for me to pass up the opportunity to ingest one.  This moment left me with the observation that humans are designed or even hardwired to seek and to treasure comfort.  We love to eat things with sugar and white flour, to lie on our sofa and watch a ball game or a movie or a silly reality TV show. We seem to naturally seek to avoid risk, or even hard work, and crave security, safety, and comfort.  Passing up sugar and white flour laden foods or going to the gym or for a hard run or bike ride is considered a sacrifice, connoting an opportunity for joy passed up.  Taking career risk and doing something entrepreneurial is mostly shunned in favor of finding a stable job.


Of course many people do make different life choices, preferring to move and to eat healthy, or to launch a new business. But in making these choices these people go against the grain; they deny their instincts.  And, in doing so, they mostly derive immense benefits. I know many people who can do this regularly, including my wife who has inspired me, and many others, to make choices that require the strength to fight our instincts.  By going against our hardwiring we can find great rewards, but it leaves me pondering why it is that we are wired this way. Why is it that it is difficult and unnatural to make the correct life choices – the ones that bring us true long-term rewards?

It is in this question that I believe the argument for contrarianism is most powerfully made. The easy and attractive choices, which by their very nature attract most people, are most often, if not always, the wrong ones.  It is surely fascinating to think that fulfillment and success can best be achieved by doing the opposite of what the majority do and, even more perverse, going against what our own biology drives us towards.  Perhaps this paradox can provide us with a glimpse of life’s purpose.

Popular posts from this blog

"No, Not You. You Are Fake News."

"No, not you. You are fake news."  These were the words chosen by our president-elect to shut down a CNN reporter seeking to question him at his recent press conference. Many hearing those words surely recoiled, interpreting them as an affront to freedom and a form of censuring. I reacted quite differently, instead celebrating the moment that a strong leader decided to hold people accountable in a public manner for their actions.

Taxes and Hyperbole

There is a new tax code in the U.S., and this is indeed a “Yuuuge” deal. As far as I can tell, it is as close to an unmitigated home run for America as can be. Is it perfect? Of course, it’s not. The code retains its unwieldy size and complexity, largely as a result of compromises made in order to bribe congressmen and senators for their votes. Until we get term limits, it seems we’re stuck with a tax code that is big and complex. However, it does hit the mark on a few key issues: most every taxpayer will now pay less to the federal government (except those in states with ridiculously mismanaged economies who now will be forced to hold their state politicians more accountable); and our businesses, large and small alike, will remit less of their profits to the federal government and will be liberated to invest that savings into growth – which will surely create job and wage growth in the productive private sector.

James Harden - A Classic Case of Misunderstood Value

The last time I wrote on hoops was December 2013 when I presciently trashed Carmelo Anthony. The time has come to take out my poison pen once again to decry James Harden as a fraud. I know that Harden has amazing stats - third in scoring, first in assists, and that his team the Rockets have far exceeded expectations as they are currently the 3rd seed out west. But, I still maintain that he is an awful player.