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The fascination with enigmatic tech billionaire Peter Thiel is understandable. We admire savvy, adversarial trailblazers; secrecy nurtures the mystique even if we sense a degree of villainy.

He has a fan club, the "Thielverse", which tags onto his eccentricities and punts his libertarian, iconoclastic views. But is he really a brave, risk-taking, visionary venture capitalist?..

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