How Peter Thiel Thinks: Anti-Mimetic & Contradictory

In the course of my many interviews with Thiel for my book Conspiracy I would observe his extraordinarily sharp mind in action. There are a few things that are worth pointing out.

First, one of the most profound intellectual influences on Peter Thiel is a French thinker named René Girard, whom he met while at Stanford and whose funeral he would eventually speak at. If you haven’t heard of his work, he is famous for his theory of mimetic desire, which holds that people have no idea what they want, or what they value, so are drawn to what other people want. A more crude way to say it is that you don’t have any real preferences and desires of your own, and you are always looking at others. It’s this, Girard says, that is the source of almost all the conflict in the world—people wanting the same things. In one way, this would forge Thiel’s modus operandi: shun social convention and think from first principles. People say that Thiel is “contrarian” but it’s more accurate to say he is anti-mimetic.

I mean, take a look at the unique path he has shaped for himself, and I will focus on his earlier days here. In some ways it is very traditional and highly competitive with other people— from Stanford to Stanford Law to judicial clerkship to a high-powered law firm—but it is also marked by bouts of rebellion and doing the opposite of “what he is supposed to do.” At Stanford he created and published a radical conservative journal called The Stanford Review, then he wrote a book that railed against multiculturalism and “militant homosexuals” on campus despite being both gay and foreign born. His friends thought he might become a political pundit. Instead he became a lawyer. Then one day, surprising even himself, he walked out of one of the most prestigious securities law firms in the world, Sullivan & Cromwell, after seven months and three days on the job. All these are examples of his decisiveness to make his choices based on first principles—not how you’re supposed to do things but what is true.

Second, another interesting method in his intellectual toolkit, is that he uses the Steel Man technique when arguing or explaining a complicated issue. This surprised me given that he had taken to calling Gawker, the website that outed him as gay, terrorists and such. But really, he was always very open-minded when it came to discussing things. For instance, if you ask Thiel a question—about Gawker or Trump or whatever—he doesn’t just pull up some half-formed opinion. Instead, he begins with, “One view of these things is that . . . ,” and then proceeds to explain the exact opposite of what he happens to personally believe. Only after he has finished, with complete sincerity and deference, describing how most people think about the issue, will he then give you his opinion, which almost always happens to be something radically unorthodox—all of it punctuated with liberal pauses to consider what he is saying as he is saying it.

Thiel seems to eschew social media and most popular culture as well. A friend would say that Thiel is averse to “casual bar talk” and I think part of the reason for that is that he is not well versed in the topics that typically make up those conversations. In one of our meetings I made an observation about how the HBO show Girls gets much more media attention than the the CBS show The Big Bang Theory even though the latter has a much, much larger audience than the former. This observation fell flat because Thiel was not familiar with either show. However, when I mentioned an obscure chapter in Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy, Thiel could cite it from memory and discuss at length. The same went for the Battle of Valmy, an early episode in the French Revolution. This is because Thiel is extremely well-read and again, tends to focus on talking about and thinking about deep, obscure topics rather than superficial, trivial matters.

It could also be said that Thiel’s default state is to embody contradiction. Even when he does describe his opinion, he prefaces it with “I tend to think . . .” or “It’s always this question of . . . ,” as if what he is about to tell you is simply capturing where his opinion falls the majority of the time when running a thought exercise on the topic, as if he is always in the process of deciding what he thinks. Doing so is what makes him such a brilliant investor, considering each trade and investment anew from a dozen perspectives, seeing what others aren’t able to see and to do it on a regenerative basis. A friend would say that “Peter is of two minds on everything. If you were able to open his skull, you would see a number of Mexican standoffs between powerful antagonistic ideas you wouldn’t think could be safely housed in the same brain.”

All these traits combine to make someone who is not only traditionally intelligent, but also unique and singular in his views on the world. He once told Wired that, “The things that I think I’m right about other people are in some sense not even wrong about, because they’re not thinking about them.” That’s a good encapsulation of Thiel’s approach. He’s smart because he thinks about the things you and I aren’t thinking about, and thinks about them in a way we likely wouldn’t.

My new book Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, which the New York Times raved about, is out now. Not only is the book an epic page turner, it’s designed to be a deep meditation on strategy and power inspired by the decade-long conspiracy engineered by the billionaire Peter Thiel to take down Gawker. Order your copy now.

How The INFJ Responds To Rude And Insulting People

How The INFJ Responds To Rude And Insulting People. INFJs may be the most caring and compassionate creatures on the planet, but they equally know no limits in shaming people who get on their nerves. Although playing tit for tat isn’t supposed to be their thing, they just feel the need to react to their triggers for all the right reasons.

After knowing all these, rude people can no longer intimidate and overwhelm you in any way. Whether they’re a coworker, family member, acquaintance, or a random stranger, you should know how to deal with these difficult people without letting them get the best of you. As an INFJ, have you ever dealt with extremely rude people? How did you silence them?

00:00 INTRO
00:21 10 Call them out for their behavior
01:08 09 Don’t give them airtime
01:48 08 Intimidate them with politeness
02:39 07 Give them the cold treatment they deserve
03:17 06 An eye for an eye
04:03 05 Do not take rudeness personally
04:57 04 Be an excellent role model
05:51 03 Show sympathy and empathy
06:51 02 Use your humor
07:38 01 Don’t escalate the issue

Why A Sigma INFJ Can End All Evil

Why A Sigma INFJ Can End All Evil. Who is neither Beta nor Alpha and loves dancing to his own drum’s beat? It’s the sigma INFJ. These individuals have always been lurking in the corners, minding their own business on the fringe of society. But one of the things a sigma INFJ is good at is to end all evil in the world. How?

An advantage of being a sigma INFJ is the ability to know you’re right and be hardly convinced by anyone who tries to distort your correct thinking. Sigma INFJs are confident with who and what they are as a person. With that, they are so sure of what they like and do not like. So, it is easy for them to refuse to do something that may violate their moral standards and contrast their personal values. No one can tell a sigma INFJ to resort to corruption even during the most desperate situations. No one can ever convince them to be unfaithful to their partner under any circumstance. Sigma INFJs will slam their doors in front of whoever attempts to order them to do this and that— because they have their own set of rules to follow. There’s no wonder why negativity can never penetrate in an INFJ’s world— they end it even at the very first glance.

Despite being introverts, sigma INFJs dominate the world through unconventional means. Are you a sigma INFJ? How do you end all evil in your own ways?

00:00 INTRO
00:28 10 They don’t idolize anyone
01:17 09 They take the lead
02:25 08 They break faulty systems
03:16 07 They despise materialism
04:04 06 They aren’t easily influenced by people
05:02 05 They are very self-disciplined
05:45 04 They treat everyone fairly
06:38 03 They are righteous defenders of what is right or wrong
07:26 02 They’re incredibly self-aware
08:25 01 They can’t be told to do something