When Peter Thiel compared Political Correctness and the Catholic Church in 1517, he revealed how truly corrupt Political Correctness really is.
I had the pleasure last night of attending an event at which Peter Thiel was the main speaker. Before he started speaking I knew that he was one of PayPal’s founders and one of Facebook’s earliest investors, that he openly supported Trump’s candidacy, and that he destroyed Gawker for outing him.
After Thiel’s speech, I knew a bit more: He’s a committed conservative-libertarian, he’s a lawyer, he’s extraordinarily well-read, and he’s a truly creative, highly intelligent thinker. Also, there’s no obvious artifice about him. He may be a billionaire, but he doesn’t view his membership in that club as proof of his brilliance. Instead, he’s an iconoclast who thinks deeply about things and, through his conclusions, proves his brilliance.
Thiel began his talk* by examining whether our society’s technology is flat-lining. He challenges the conventional wisdom is that we’re still in an upward technological trend, but that the low-hanging fruit is gone, and the geniuses have dried up. He feels the opposite is true: We’re stagnating now, there’s a great deal more fruit than just the low-hanging variety, and there is untapped genius out there.
The big question, of course, is why there is untapped genius? The most obvious answer is funding. In the computer world, where innovation is still happening, guys (mostly guys) can do what’s been done since the 1970s: Come up with a great idea at their home computer and, through hard work, intelligence, and luck, leverage that idea into something people need or want, and that then makes its inventors very, very rich.
However, there’s trouble brewing in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) world. Contrary to popular wisdom, which is that all STEM college majors will result in better paying jobs than any liberal arts major could, the only two STEM majors with a serious job market are Computer Science and Petrochemical Engineering. In everything else, a large pool of people is competing for the same money.
More than that, those handing out the money want to invest in sure things. That means the only projects getting financed are the safe ones, the ones that don’t challenge the status quo, and that don’t come out with some major, counter-intuitive thinking that could change an existing paradigm.
The problem for science types is that, in the 21st century, while one can still come up with computer technology on the cheap, it’s impossible to do so in the sciences. While early scientists once needed a microscope, a Bunsen burner, a few Petri dishes, and a note pad, today’s scientists rely upon equipment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. They can function only with corporate, academic, or government funding. This turns every lab into a fiefdom, in which a large number of people are competing for a finite slice of research dollars and fame.
Which gets us to political correctness. Thiel sees political correctness as something akin to this famous video moment, with the blooming flowers emanating from a man’s head standing in for American energy and innovation, and the foot being political correctness: [Read more…]