Via Seth Roberts blog commenter Patrik comes this speculative but very interesting paper titled "Why Are Modern Scientists So Dull?," which argues that modern science has evolved to favor individuals with high agreeableness and conscientiousness at the expense of intelligence and creativity.
Without accepting the paper's conclusions entirely I think you can ask some version of the same questions for the hedge fund industry. Does the modern hedge fund industry, which is orders of magnitude more institutionalized than it was decades ago, select for agreeableness and conscientiousness more than it used to? Does very successful investing require some combination of traits that put you closer to the "social misfit" category?
Put another way: what are the chances that someone who ran away from home in high school, then proceeded to attend college under protest, then proceeded to drop out of Wharton in order to attend the University of Nebraska, then got rejected from Harvard Business School, then applied to Columbia Business School via a personal letter, would get a good hedge fund job today? What are the chances that a Hungarian who attended a college known for its socialist leanings, who preferred (and prefers) philosophy to finance, and who bounced from one menial job to another would get a good hedge fund job today? What are the chances that someone who left a very prestigious Wall Street job to run off to New Zealand and write a novel would be allowed to return and start his own hedge fund?