Peter Thiel says higher education has 'brainwashed' Silicon Valley

Key Points
  • On "The Rubin Report" podcast, Thiel said people in Silicon Valley are being swayed to think like the majority.
  • Many people are afraid to speak up because they are "too scared to articulate things," he said.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
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Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder, venture capitalist and Facebook board member who gained national attention for his support of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, is blaming Silicon Valley's liberalism on higher education.

"It's probably the most educated part of the country in terms of how much time people spent in college," Thiel said on Wednesday's episode of "The Rubin Report" podcast, hosted by Dave Rubin. "I think one of the downsides of too much education is that you get the most brainwashed."

Thiel, who calls himself a libertarian, told Rubin that many people were using the liberal tag as a "fashion statement," especially since their training and education didn't require them to delve into politics. He said that a Silicon Valley friend of his admitted at a dinner party before the 2016 election that he was going to vote for Trump but wasn't telling his colleagues to avoid facing the backlash.

"Even if you took a survey of Silicon Valley it comes out as quite far to the left, weirdly uniform, weird sort of groupthink," Thiel said. "It's super hard to know whether people really believe this, whether they're just going along. I think it's pretty liberal, but not as liberal as it looks, which is in a way worse. It means people are too scared to articulate things."

He said that people protesting Trump in liberal cities like New York and San Francisco aren't really contrary thinkers. Earlier this year, Thiel said he was moving from Silicon Valley to Los Angeles because of the Bay Area's attitude toward conservatives.

"Is this what people really think or are they under incredible peer pressure to fit in?" he said on the podcast.

This mindset has forced people to "overreach" on topics like diversity, Thiel said. Political correctness has become so extreme that instead of just giving privileges to disadvantaged groups, people are attacking "real or imagined" oppressors, he continued. Thiel said that during his time at Stanford University in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were "draconian speech codes on campus" rather than a true focus on the humanities.

"Diversity of ideas is to be valued, but you don't have real diversity when you have people who look different and think alike," Thiel said. "The diversity myth is that it's not about diversity at all. It's about conformity."

These aren't new ideas for Thiel. In 2011, he started the Thiel Fellowship program, paying $100,000 to entrepreneurs under age 20 who were willing to leave college for two years and develop business plans instead.

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