First of all, I have to say I believe Julie Lythcott-Haims has remembered this conversation with Thiel precisely. Of this, I have no doubt. I approached a giant in the field of poverty research 20 years ago when I was in graduate school, and I remember the conversation word for word. I asked him why he studied poverty, because he seemed so indifferent to poor people. He said, “Because that is what my academic mentors studied.”
In other words, he didn’t care about it at all. I was heartbroken. I came to that graduate school specifically to work with him, but I couldn’t do it if he didn’t care about poor people. I didn’t spend my entire life bearing the burden of deep poverty to work with someone who didn’t understand who I was as a person. He only knew what I was as a number in a dataset. In other words, there are conversations you remember. They change the course of your life, your thought processes or your perspective.
Having said that, Vanadias, you provide yet another piece of evidence in an eloquent response. The man’s own stated belief set expounded for years. There are certainly bread crumbs to his disregard for people — such as approving of apartheid — in his explicit principles.