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“I didn’t think I was going to finish college,” Eric Weinstein said. He has a PhD in mathematical physics.

From Harvard.

“I’m an imposter,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“I didn’t have a thesis advisor.”

Meaning, he didn’t really do all the requirements.

But he got the degree.

And now he’s the Managing Director of Thiel Capital (Peter Thiel’s investment firm). And he’s host of the new podcast “The Portal.

“What were your SAT scores?” I asked.

I wanted to find out if he was actually bad at math. Because he said this thing about learning disabilities.

He said, “A lot of parents have kids who are bright and smart and creative. And those kids are bringing home grades that are just so depressing. And the parents are pulling their hair out… In the standard sense, that population is probably [considered] learning disabled, but they are our future innovators.”


“People become incredibly inventive when they become isolated and terrified.”

When Eric thought he’d fail college, he stopped taking French and the required courses.

He loaded up on math courses. And said, “I, at least, want to find out what the universe is about while I’m here… and that turned out to pay off.”

Here’s what else we talk about in part 1 of our talk:

  • Episode preview – [0:00]
  • I introduce Eric Weinstein, managing director of Thiel Capital, has his PH.D is mathematical physics from Harvard – [3:15]
  • Eric defines “kinetical structures” / explains how to find the most powerful ideas – [3:58]
  • Eric explains the universe is full of patterns (and how you can see them in music, speech patterns, thoughts and more) – [6:30]
  • We talk about the “intellectual dark web” = the limitations on free speech polarizing the U.S. – [8:11]
  • How to make stronger arguments… and less contradictions – [9:15]
  • Eric talks about the ways we are going to potentially “destroy our institutions, suppress thought, completely weaken ourselves and our scientific enterprises…”  – [12:20]
  • Eric defines the “pro-inequality party” and says, “I think that Hillary [Clinton] is part of a very long slide into middle, brown non-sense that was used to… created a tremendous amount of income inequality and asset inequality in this country.” – [16:34]


  • “Republican remains the party of millionaires, but democrats have become the party of billionaires.” – [17:15]
  • Prediction: I ask Eric “How today’s current political climate is going to play out?” – [18:50]
  • How to deal with low confidence… (give yourself permission to be an imposter) – [22:18]
  • Try this if you want to get unstuck – [24:16]


  • Eric says why kids with learning disabilities are actually our future innovators – [26:57]
  • Why Eric thought he was going to fail in college – [29:01]
  • Why you comparing your past to your present is physically impossible – [30:59]
  • The power of pattern recognition – [34:30]
  • Eric teaches me the core principles of how to meta-learn – [39:45]
  • If something is failing, there’s an invisible force. Eric says how you can take this physics principle and apply it into your daily life – [43:10]
  • Eric’s philosophy on failure… and getting back up – [44:29]
    •  He says, “Whenever you think something is going to be beautiful… almost always your hope will be dashed. Because it’s too naive. So instead of just getting upset about it, the next thing to do is to measure the failure of your original hope. Measure… ‘How badly did it go wrong?’ Once you have that, make that new object the centerpiece of a new theory. And you’ll actually build something much more beautiful than the original theory ever was.”
  • Why you need arrogance sometimes – [49:50]
  • How to have either the dumbest idea of all time or the greatest idea – [51:14]
  • The importance of feedback loops –  [51:47]
  • I ask Eric if feedback leads to conformity.-[54:34]
    • He says, “Well, hopefully, the person is pushing you back into conformity where you need conformity and pushing you into brilliance where your edge is.” 
  • Research findings on how to surprise and fascinate people – [57:38]
  • How successful entrepreneurs find missing needs and use their findings to develop new value in the world – [58:45]
  • I ask Eric to explain the basics. How can someone listening find what’s missing and invent something that fills that void?- [1:00:42]
  • Eric gives an exercise you can try to learn what’s happening around you. And how you actually operate on a daily basis. Then you can use this to get to where you want to go  – [1:02:27]
  • End of part 1 and preview for part 2 [1:04:57]


Here’s our full conversation for Part 1:


Links & Resouces: