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I was there during some of those dinner-table conversations. Topics that were raised: Number of for-profit and non-profit founders who didn't get all the way through college; how successful founders and interesting people seem to be missing the "imitation gene" (Thiel's term); how the standard system filters out different kinds of innovative people at each step of the process; how making it possible to bypass a single stage of the system might have a multiplicative effect on the total number of innovators who survive to adulthood with their creativity intact.

Topics which were not raised, at all, not even in the slightest: Universities having a left-wing influence.

I'm genuinely shocked at the amount of vitriol and conspiracy-theorizing which Peter Thiel is getting over this.

Can you elaborate on what he meant by 'imitation gene'?

People who found interesting companies are more likely to fail-to-conform in other ways as well, which is why other venture capitalists don't fund them - they want jeans, not someone wrapped in a towel.

People who engage in standard trendy forms of "nonconformity" that everyone immediately recognizes as "nonconformist" are called "dangerous" or "edgy" or "innovative". People who lack the imitation gene are called "weird" or "crazy".

That's probably not exactly the way Peter Thiel would phrase it - I'm uncomfortable speaking for others - but I don't think he'd disagree.

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