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Coding is more important than Shakespeare, says VC living in self-contained universe

Khosla joins list of people it's really worth not listening to

Here's a new term, 'success myopia'

While we're defining new clever terms, here is one for Khosla and other very rich and successful people that imagine their experiences are relatable or teachable or expandable rather than the application of hard work and a huge helping of luck. It is called "success myopia."

Success myopia could best be explained by the fact that when talking about the world, those privileged enough to be in a position to pontificate about it will almost always focus on pre-existing successes. And focus on them as if they were foregone conclusions; then seek to explain and emulate them.

Diet Coke, Marlboro Lights, iPods, iPads, Facebook. But where are the books and the examples of all those people and all their dreams that tried to become the next Facebook or Diet Coke, but didn't and so have been completely forgotten? Where are all the never-quite-made-it tales? They represent life for all those not lucky enough to make it big. And that is the majority of humanity.

Education is what makes those people value themselves and others despite life's blows and failures and disappointments. It makes them realize that success doesn't really matter if you have good friends and family; that you can only buy so many widescreen TVs; and that a $500-a-night hotel room really isn't that much better than a $150-a-night room.

"In my view creativity, humanism, and ethics are very hard to teach, whereas worldliness and many other skills supposedly taught through the liberal arts are more easily self-taught in a continuously updating fashion if one has a good quantitative, logical and scientific process-oriented base education," says Khosla, who lives in Palo Alto, California, one of the most expensive places in the world.

Teach by example

Humanism and ethics are indeed very hard to teach. And people will often pick them up by learning about and reflecting on the actions of others.

Khosla sets an interesting example of that in his recent dispute over Martin's Beach in California.

The beach – a public property – was a popular family and surf spot. Then Khosla bought the land adjacent to it and blocked access. He erected a gate, added armed guards and painted over a welcome sign. He went to court and used an obscure ancient law to maintain the block when challenged. And the block remained until the Governor of California signed new legislation, forcing it to be re-opened to the public years later.

Congressman Pete McCloskey said about the whole affair: "To put a rope across the road and say, 'The hell with you' – I'd call it the arrogance of great wealth."

It's hard to imagine there is someone in greater need of the lessons that liberal arts can afford you than Vinod Khosla. ®

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