Peter Thiel profile from the New Yorker … ntPage=all

Thanks for sharing this.

I saw this guy present at a conference last month; I actually didnt know anything about him beforehand but he made a huge impression on me, simply as someone who could give opinions that were profoundly right and yet contradicted popular opinion, and this wasnt necessarily scripted stuff as a lot of it was in response to unscripted audience questions…

Also, that as a guy worth more than a billion he had such a lack of self importance about him. No minders that I could see, arrived on his own.

Also, New Yorker, where else would you find this sort of journalism? Answer: nowhere else.

Strange thing to say. Worrying in its implications. I would say Thiel’s a very intelligent and complex character. I agree whole-heartedly with his views on technology and the rise of “gadgetry” etc. However some of his libertarian ideological induced views are well into the realm of the sociopathic.

Why is it a strange thing to say? Worrying in what implications?

The comments I was referring to were entirely in relation to his views on the tech industry and venture capital…he didnt mention anything that referenced ideology. I was impressed with his ability to jump outside of convention, to see things differently… should I not be?

The part I bolded.

Though I did interpret you to be referring to more than his views on technological development or lack thereof. (In particular, Thiel espouses many libertarian type views, and is even a supporter of Ron Paul).

When he is talking about his ideology, he is certainly in the realm of opinion. I think when he talks about technology, he is somewhat further from the realm of opinion, as technology and its effects are a lot more tangible.

Though still a strange thing to say… an opinion is a subjective belief… By definition, never right or wrong… a result of a person’s perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires… Certainly one opinion can be better supported by argument. However, different people will often draw opposing opinions from the same set of arguments. Again, dependent on their emotions and how there are predisposed to interpret a set of facts or arguments…

For you to say that one opinion is “profoundly right” sets the stage for a worrying conflict with those who are predisposed to drawing another opinion from the same facts and arguments (based on their perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires).

Civilised society today is based around there being room for other opinions to be respected as long as there is respect within those opinions for those intrinsic human values which are believed to be universal. (It is lack of respect for those intrinsic human values that is most often termed sociopathic).

So are you saying that an opinion cant be right or wrong?

In my opinion, it is generally not a good idea for young children to drink whiskey. Thats my subjective opinion. Does it being an opinion imply that it by definition cant be correct…? If someone else thinks that it is a good idea, are you suggesting that because its their opinion, that they might not be wrong?

by ‘profoundly right’, I was referring to trueisms rather than facts.

Heck, maybe it was a strange thing to say…I take it back.

OK, I know I’m butting in here.

That depends on the opinion. Opinions held about empirically testable hypotheses can indeed be right or wrong (well, provisionally right, anyway).
If you held the opinion that the earth is flat, then I’d say your opinion is wrong.

If your opinion concerns a subjective value judgment, I’d say that it can only be tested for its consistency within the value system in which it is held. For example, your above statement would be predicated on (I assume) the assumption that things that tend to impair the health of children are bad. All very well, but why is the health of children (or indeed adults) a good thing of itself? This appears to me to be a purely subjective anthropcentric judgment and not an empirically testable hypothesis.

Just my €0.02 worth

It’s like the BDs versus the8DDs back in the old8-
(hard to find the right smilies… :neutral_face: )

There are a lot of indisputable facts out there that demonstrate that young children drinking whiskey will cause organ damage. Yes, your subjectivity plays a part in interpreting those facts to decide “yes, it’s not a good idea to give children whiskey”. But say for example someone holds an opinion that “yes, people behave as better human beings when they are devoid of social safety nets”. Or, “the strong in society should be entitled to all of the fruits of their labour and decide themselves who are the deserving weak for their charity.”… ie. Some facts have a degree of being indisputable that other so called facts have much less of… You don’t normally say, “my opinion is that the sun shines in the sky”. Whereas you do normally say, “my opinion is that this government is well intentioned but lack the ability to adequately understand the context and environment they are operating in…” ie. the term “opinion” is utilised to indicate a higher degree of subjectivity and a lesser degree of well demonstrated facts.

Anyway my opinion is that Thiele may have some intelligent things to say, but in general is a fair gobshite, with a strong likelihood of being a sociopath, most often disguised, but occasionally revealed.

Ok…I will go away and think about it, and reword my views on Peter Thiel and see if I can come up with wording that is agreeable to all contributors.

I have to say, he made a huge impression on me, simply as someone who could give opinions that were profoundly right.

What? What’d I say? You mean he once said he doesn’t like fat kids? Well, okay, let me rephrase, he has made a huge impression on me, simply as someone who could give opinions that were profoundly right, except for what he once said about fat kids. What? He reckons that children should be given guns so they can shoot poorly performing teachers? Well, okay, let me rephrase…

@roc, have you ever heard of context?

Whatever, Yogan. I would take issue when someone says that a guy who supports Ron Paul and laments the rise of women’s suffrage and welfare safety nets, has opinions that are “profoundly right”.

Perhaps there was some pedantics there too, but I personally think it’s important to understand properly what opinion actually is. For example, I have often said on this forum how representation of opinion in poiltics needs to be recognised by the public as most often actually being representation of self-interest and not a real opinion at all.

I think semantic distinctions are important. There is an implicit tyranny in the dumbing down of everything. It has also become popular to ridicule anyone who goes against this tendency of dumbing down (and conflating such distinctions) which is worrying in itself.

But what do those views have to do with his views on technology?

It is completely pedantic. There are plenty of people whose politics I despise, but who I am willing to say are profoundly right on particular topics. It is, in my view, a dumbing down to be unable to treat the opinions of an individual as complex and to agree with some and disagree with others. It paints a nonsensical black/white dichotomy suitable only for the tabloid press. It is precisely the view that you appear to find so objectionable in modern society :confused:

Great read. You can tell the writer finds him creepy.

This line stuck out for me. He was discussing what the “future” was supposed to bring to humans but has not as yet.

"There will be only four work days a week of seven hours per day. The year will be comprised of 39 work weeks and 13 weeks of vacation. . . . All this within a single generation.”

Lads - we are seriously ahead of the game here! Almost living in the future 8) Can somebody ring that fella who is head of SFI, you know, the one with the degree in catering, and tell him that Ireland is an existing example of Thiel’s “seasteading” dream. He could be Emperor.

** Thiel: “Seasteading” refers to the founding of new city-states on floating platforms in international waters—communities beyond the reach of laws and regulations.

It was the second post on this thread where Yorkiebar said he heard this guy at a conference and he thought here was “someone who could give opinions that were profoundly right”. Is there anything to indicate that he was referring solely to his views on technology? I then said a few posts down, “I did interpret you to be referring to more than his views on technological development or lack thereof”… Why are you wasting my time by making an irrelevant argument, the irrelevancy of which you could easily see just by reading the thread?

EDIT - Maybe to avoid further derailing this thread you could PM your response if any. Cheers.

Just to give some context to my OP, which in retrospect I should have done.

It was a Investment conference in the UK. Most of the attendees would have been hedge fund managers, pension fund managers and so on.

His background is in Venture Capital, so the two subjects would be very closely linked. The conference had a number of ‘celebrity’ speakers such as Niall Ferguson and some of the heads from CNBC. Most of what they said seemed kind of controversial for the sake of it, and as a result not that impressive. Thiel was different, in that he gave some OPINIONS that I hadnt heard before.

He was talking with his VC hat on, what does he look for when investing. For example he said that he is distrustful of companies that say they want to tackle a product market that is very large. He is much more interested in companies that say they are after a niche, or even a market that doesnt exist. That made a whole lot of sense to me as I often read about companies that are saying they want to enter the such and such market, for example renewable energy, and that this market is worth €50bn…and if the company can get just a small slice of that market it would be a huge success. The problem is that while it is huge, it is also well populated, and so it becomes very very difficult to differentiate ones self…So it made a whole lot of sense, but it was the first time I heard anyone say it.

Apart from that, it was (in my opinion) impressive that a guy who is worth far in excess of a billion would show up to a conference on his tod (as far as I could tell). And afterwards he went for a coffee with some of the guys who had been in the audience and were asking questions.

With reference to the sociopath comment, the guy is clearly a very talented investor, that is not in dispute. he has repeated the trick a number of times. His successes have been built on anticipating changes in how society interacts (Facebook) and how economies work (Paypal) amongst other things. If that does or doesnt make him a sociopath, I dont know, you tell me. I’m not an apologist for the guy, I honestly dont know his views on wider society and dont particularly care, any more than I care about Liam Neeson’s views on society or Roger Federer’s. He is very good at investing, and I think this is what he is definitely worth listening to on.

Well, whatever your original interpretation was, YB’s followups clarified his intention.

But even if you want to take a narrow and legalist reading of YB’s original text, the use of the word could in the quote perhaps inadvertently makes the assertion so weak that it doesn’t even guarantee that YB heard Thiel give such a “profoundly right” opinion. YB only asserts he was convinced of Thiel’s capability. (Notwithstanding the snipped part of YB’s statement where he highlights the contrarian nature of those opinions being the impressive part (as opposed to the whiskey/babies opinions which tend to resolve into consensus in most discussions where I’ve seen that old chestnut trashed out)).


Please enlighten us on your sociopath comment and why you made it.

I admit, I had to google the term. Seems to range Charles Mansun or Gerry Healy type characters all the way up to Hitler or Mao; but generally not a good thing…

This is an amusing and useful tool:

It analyzes your writing style and gives you feedback. Try it :slight_smile:

IMO he doesn’t come out of that article well. It starts off saying that he believes that America’s problem is that it “has lost its belief in the future”. He then says that the future was to be the Jetson future where computers and technology would free man from work. The journalist towards the end points out how in reality a high tech future is actually leading to the freeing of man from work by replacing him with a machine the profits from which goes to the dwindling number of machine owners and leaves the underemployed man impoverished. He answers that it will free up people to “do other things” what these other things are I don’t know but I suspect that other things is Libertarian code for “Die”. The whole time I was reading it I kept getting images of the Morlocks from H.G Wells the Time Machine, Julian Assange and Steve Jobs.