Peter Thiel made billions from PayPal and Facebook, and now he’s out to change the world.

The radical libertarian Thiel has given up on democracy — that experiment went south when women got the vote, he says — and is investing heavily on space exploration and ocean-surface homesteading in hopes of escaping the rabble. Really.

But while those projects — like his interest in life extension and cryogenics — are nutty but mostly harmless, his latest venture is deeply pathological. He’s leading up a group of investors in the Thiel Fellowships, a program of hundred-thousand-dollar grants to teenaged geniuses who promise to drop out of college.


“The University of Arizona,” Thiel backer William Andregg declares in a Thiel Fellowship press release, has “no course on ‘how to cure aging.'” That may be true, but it does have whole departments full of courses in fields like biochemistry, genetics, and gerontology. Those courses may not teach you how to cure aging, but they’re pretty good places to get the tools you’ll need for such a project.

Some people get along great without college, of course, and maybe the Thiel Fellows will be in that number. A hundred thousand bucks goes a long way. But come on, Pete. You can’t come up with something better to do with two million dollars than to discourage education?