Darwinism and popular culture: PayPal co-founder on Darwin’s effect on culture

At TechCrunch (Apr 10, 2011), Sarah Lacy catches Peter Thiel in a politically incorrect moment in "We're in a Bubble and It's Not the Internet. It's Higher Education.":

the idea that attending Harvard is all about learning? Yeah. No one pays a quarter of a million dollars just to read Chaucer. The implicit promise is that you work hard to get there, and then you are set for life. It can lead to an unhealthy sense of entitlement. "It's what you've been told all your life, and it’s how schools rationalize a quarter of a million dollars in debt," Thiel says.

[ ... ]

But Thiel's issues with education run even deeper. He thinks it's fundamentally wrong for a society to pin people's best hope for a better life on something that is by definition exclusionary. "If Harvard were really the best education, if it makes that much of a difference, why not franchise it so more people can attend? Why not create 100 Harvard affiliates?" he says.

"It's something about the scarcity and the status. In education your value depends on other people failing. Whenever Darwinism is invoked it's usually a justification for doing something mean. It's a way to ignore that people are falling through the cracks, because you pretend that if they could just go to Harvard, they'd be fine. Maybe that's not true."

The article is nuanced, and the writer challenges Thiel in some constructive ways.

Hat tip: Five Feet of Fury

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.

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