Quotable (#201)

Samuel Hammond on Peter Thiel’s investment in Trump:

Mimetic desire reveals itself in “social desirability bias,” the well-founded tendency of survey respondents to say the things and check the boxes that will make them seem more favorable to their peers, rather than their true, autonomous belief. But if enough people shun an idea because of fear of being judged or to go along with the crowd, it naturally creates a profit opportunity. The reverse is also true. If getting an MBA or law degree come with a lot of social status, it’s best to avoid those things, Thiel has argued, because you sacrifice a shot at true greatness by entering a crowded field. […] Supporting Hillary Clinton is therefore a lot like starting a restaurant. It’s socially desirable — look no further than the dozens of celebrities, comedians and musicians who participated in the Democratic National Convention. But endorsing something popular comes with scant margin besides the approval of one’s peers and being at the center of a positive social nexus. If voice is what you want, Clinton already has too many backs to scratch, favors to return, and quids to pro quo. […] Trump, on the other hand, is starved for elite support. Indeed, he can barely marshal the elites within his own party. So why wouldn’t Thiel seize a once in a lifetime chance to go from zero to one, to gain significant influence over the potential next POTUS at the cost of mild embarrassment?

(Much else of interest in this piece besides.)

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