If you’ve seen the movie The Big Short (or even just the trailer), you’ve seen that the character Michael Burry (a real person) is portrayed as going barefoot a lot.
In the book he is mostly shown as just eccentric. So I got wondering, was that added just for the movie?
Here’s the shot from the trailer:
They are discussing the housing market (and the credit default swaps that eventually led to the Great Recession), and one of the doubters says:
So Mike Burry, who gets his hair cut at Supercuts, and doesn’t wear
shoes, knows more than Alan Greenspan.
You can see the trailer here (that scene is right around the 30 second mark):
The thing is, the book doesn’t mention that Michael Burry went barefoot at all. In fact, all the book says is that
He refused to wear shoes with laces.
So, which was it? Did he go barefoot around the office?
I think I found the answer in this article,
Did the real Michael Burry walk around the office with no shoes on?. Here’s what it says:
Yes. According to director Adam McKay, this is true. “He’s a guy who listens to speed metal,” says McKay, “most of the time doesn’t wear shoes. He would go weeks wearing the same clothes.”
There’s also a picture in the article, but it’s a cut and paste from a different, better picture.
That picture is from a Vanderbilt article highlighting some of their medical school graduates. Yes, Michael Burry was also a doctor.
It is also mentioned in the book that Michael Burry realized at one point that he probably had Asperger’s Syndrome, which is an autism spectrum disorger. That’s an interesting condition. It seems to be related to difficulties processing input from the environment, which leads to communication difficulties, eccentric behaviors, and a limited range of interests. In addition, many who have it also have incredible skills or talents.
From a bit of a search, it also appears that shoes can be a problem for those with Asperger’s. It’s that interacting with the environment thing.
Sometimes it manifests as an extreme aversion to do, so they want to wear shoes all the time. Sometimes it’s being annoyed by even the most minor lumps in socks, so they have to be put on absolutely perfectly.
That may explain part of Michael Burry’s personality. But he also may have, like a lot of us (and being a very smart guy), figured out that shoes really don’t do all that much that is helpful, and that we always don’t have to blindly follow the dictates of society when those dictates really don’t make a lot of sense.