Neil Theory of Contrary Opinion
Comment of the Day

February 07 2012

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Neil Theory of Contrary Opinion

Thanks to a subscriber for this highly educative summary by James L. Fraser of Humphrey Neill's views dating from the early 1960s. To the best of my knowledge this is the same James L. Fraser who helped found Fraser Asset Management; hosts of the annual Contrary Opinion Forum at which David is regularly invited to speak. I rate this report unmissable for the depth of information contained. I'm sure I will return to it on future occasions to absorb additional nuggets. Here are two sections:
Some skeptics might say that as we are in a new era – for the first time in history possessing the means never to slave again – that the Crowd will diminish until we have little to be contrary to. Modern man has confidence in his own power to shape and transform the physical world in accord with his own concepts. Keen thinking, sharpened by computers, should keep the public under control. And all the time, public education is improving. But a world of cybernetics is no solution.

There will always be crowd psychology to deal with, Instantaneous answers mean crown reactions occur faster also. Rapid communication with accelerated computations means opinions shift fast. If anything we will pounce on new fads with greater speed – not less. It is our safety valve – as witness the following.


We have a portrait of a mobile society, of America on the go, so busy moving and adjusting that there is no time left for serious thought. Interdependence is the rule with industrialization, technology, human crowding, and mass media causing many activities once considered private to be involved in national issues. The result of a national and worldwide abstract economy is homogenized uniformity.

Eoin Treacy's view Following the flash crash on May 6 th 2010 a question arose at The Chart Seminar, held a couple of weeks later, as to whether behavioural technical analysis was still credible following an event which was largely attributed to machines. The reality is that the flash crash proves computers panic in and panic out just like regular people. However, the size of this sector and volatility it creates makes them more destructive.

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