Well said. (Vonnegut is my favorite author - and Cat’s Cradle is my favorite book). And you’re right to point out the relational aspect of this. The Musk super fans on Twitter are quite a strange phenomenon, making it their mission to police anyone who dares suggest the Emperor Has No Clothes. Thanks for the very kind words - I’m very glad you’re reading and commenting. I’m hopeful that as more people join, there will be debates within the posts, functioning as a mini social media site of intellectually curious people.

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You could have written this article about my last boss, who was a malignant narcissist and exhibited all the traits of the “dark triad”. But he ended up self-destructing as he surrounded himself with people who refused to challenge him and finally his worst impulses revealed he was not all he claimed to be. He has since disappeared from public view and our industry. Persona non grata!

Getting to the heart of this article, what the simulations cannot reveal is the psychology of the “con” which takes somebody willing to over-promise and lie, and the “marks” who are looking for meaning or belonging and want to be associated with rising stars, or those of great import since their everyday lives are so “mundane” or seemingly meaningless. What Kurt Vonnegut would call “wampeters” or something people can gather around to give them meaning.

I think a follow up on what you have written here is why “secret geniuses” attract a cult like following and what it is their “marks” are missing that make them so susceptible to such cons, charlatans, and cranks on a regular basis. I think it goes back to the feeling of powerlessness, boredom, and victimhood based on where they started in life beyond their control or encountering bad luck, or lack of talent or some combination of all three. It pairs well with being in educational and social silos I mentioned in my last comment on the last post.

Your work and posts are insightful and refreshing for me given my work in a highly technical space (power systems, energy and enviro Econ). Look forward to the next post!

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So interesting. Found your great podcast series a couple years ago - “Power Corrupts” - and I’ve been a fan ever since. You are an excellent teacher & communicator of big things, big ideas that can be off putting to we common folk. This Age of Narcissism seems to be defining, and here to stay. I don’t see how it stops given the vast tools of tech & media available to every disordered human walking among us. I think it’s also creating more disordered humans who might never have matured into full blown sociopaths in the pre-internet era. The only defense is knowledge and a desire to “avoid catastrophe” like your Grand Dad said.

There’s a very good May, 2022 “NYTimes Presents” episode on Musk/Tesla - available on HULU. It clearly shows him creating his Super Genius persona with utterly ridiculous over-promising marketing bullshit… all of his world changing things are always ‘just 2 years away.’

I also think there’s a reason Elon is diving into Right Wingdom, just as trump did. That’s where the most marks dwell, the most authoritarian-curious, cult-susceptible people with maximum self-regard (and usually minimum reasons for such).

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