On Wednesday, The New York Times published an extensive interview with PayPal co-founder and billionaire Peter Thiel, a man who, though we have never met, seems totally regular and cool.
As a venture capitalist (and early Facebook investor), Thiel has long been a major player in Silicon Valley, but gained political prominence in the US after speaking at the Republican National Convention last year, contributing $US1.25 million ($1.6 million) to Donald Trump’s campaign and even joining the US President-elect’s transition team.
Touching on topics ranging from his relationship with Trump (who declared they’re “friends for life”) to the relative merits of Star Wars versus Star Trek (as a capitalist, he prefers the former), Thiel gave a variety of perfectly reasonable answers during his exchange with the Times. Below are 11 of the most normal quotes from the interview.
1. Peter Thiel on President Obama and political corruption:
[T]here’s a point where no corruption can be a bad thing. It can mean that things are too boring.
2. Peter Thiel on Donald Trump and sexual assault:
On the one hand, the tape was clearly offensive and inappropriate. At the same time, I worry there’s a part of Silicon Valley that is hyper-politically correct about sex.
3. Peter Thiel on Star Wars versus Star Trek:
I like ‘Star Wars’ way better. I’m a capitalist. ‘Star Wars’ is the capitalist show. ‘Star Trek’ is the communist one. There is no money in ‘Star Trek’ because you just have the transporter machine that can make anything you need. The whole plot of ‘Star Wars’ starts with Han Solo having this debt that he owes and so the plot in ‘Star Wars’ is driven by money.
4. Peter Thiel on the obsession with trying to live forever he shares with many others in Silicon Valley:
Why is everyone else so indifferent about their mortality?
5. Peter Thiel on how he communicates with other good and normal humans:
Maybe I do always have this background program running where I’m trying to think of, ‘O.K., what’s the opposite of what you’re saying?’ and then I’ll try that […] It works surprisingly often.
6. Peter Thiel on climate change and Donald Trump, who once dismissed global warming as a hoax “created by and for the Chinese”:
Does he really think that? If he really thinks that, how would you influence that? If he really thinks that and you could influence him, what would be the best way to do it?
7. Peter Thiel on the political echo chamber of Facebook (I think?):
There’s nobody you know who knows anybody. There’s nobody you know who knows anybody who knows anybody, ad infinitum.
8. Peter Thiel on how he reconciles Trump’s paleoconservatism with his own utopian futurism:
Even if there are aspects of Trump that are retro and that seem to be going back to the past, I think a lot of people want to go back to a past that was futuristic — ‘The Jetsons,’ ‘Star Trek.’ They’re dated but futuristic.
9. Peter Thiel on whether conflicts of interest (of which Donald Trump will have many) are a bad thing:
I don’t want to dismiss ethical concerns here, but I worry that ‘conflict of interest’ gets overly weaponised in our politics. I think in many cases, when there’s a conflict of interest, it’s an indication that someone understands something way better than if there’s no conflict of interest. If there’s no conflict of interest, it’s often because you’re just not interested.
10. Peter Thiel on abortion and the US Supreme Court:
It’s like, even if you appointed a whole series of conservative Supreme Court justices, I’m not sure that Roe v. Wade would get overturned, ever. I don’t know if people even care about the Supreme Court.
11. Peter Thiel on how his good friend Donald Trump is handling his transition in the Oval Office:
Mr. Trump seems fine.
This is fine. Everything is fine.