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Epstein’s Links to Scientists Are More Extensive Than Previously Thought (buzzfeednews.com)
76 points by msghacq 56 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments



That is one hell of a list.

According to friends, Epstein showed up at a TED conference circa 1999 with 6 plus-ones, all listed as "Mrs Jeffery Epstein". (The tickets were something like $5k in 2019 dollars.) They don't recall them as being under-age, but it definitely seemed sleazy. Their recollection is that Epstein used them to meet people; the women would go chat somebody up and bring them back to Epstein.

Abusers are well known for grooming victims, but they also groom allies. So it's not surprising that among this list we find people who are either hopelessly naive or of dubious character themselves. In retrospect it doesn't seem like a coincidence that around the same time Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey were zooming around on Epstein's plane.

Let that be a lesson to all of us. If we suddenly experience an overwhelming amount of positive attention, it's worth asking ourselves whether it's the love-bombing [1] common to narcissistic manipulators.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_bombing


A scientist believes he can potentially meaningfully improve the world and nature of mankind with his research, but he's having trouble obtaining funding. He's offered funding by the worst human imaginable with no strings attached other than said patron being seen as the patron. Is it more moral to accept the money, or to reject it?


Many scientists make similar decisions every day, in the sense they spend much of their writing proposal after for proposal for research money from organizations whose missions they feel deeply troubled by (chiefly military/defense in the States)


Let's get specific. Exactly which research do you think meaningfully improved the world? And assuming you have some, by how much?

Following that, we can take a look at the harm done by Epstein and do some comparisons.


That's up to you. The reason I asked the question is because it's one, based on the comments here, that I think many people weren't asking themselves. And that's akin to condemning a man for 'x' without ever asking yourself if 'x' is even wrong.

As it's a moral question, there's not going to be any unambiguous right or wrong answer and we're all going to have different perspectives. One might even argue that you have a moral imperative to take his money for practically any reason so long as you are not directly assisting his other actions, since it means you are taking a chip, regardless of how small, out of the resources he had to carry on with said other actions.

As another example on this topic in Columbia the big drug dealers would frequently use their ill gotten wealth to do positive things such as fund schools for local towns. And these guys were involved in far worse behavior - murdering large numbers of people, often in brutal fashion to send a message. And that was similarly no secret. Should the townspeople have rejected their offer?


If your point is that applied morality is complex, I don't think you're saying anything new.

But you replied to my point about abusers exploiting the well-meaning and naive. I don't see what bringing up an obvious fact about moral complexity does here, especially since you refuse to engage usefully with your own point. Except of course to confuse the issue.

In practice, I don't think I've seen any attempts by Epstein associates to really grapple with the moral balance, to weigh the ends against the means. What I mostly see is them taking the money and either supporting him or dodging the hard questions. There isn't anybody willing to say, "Yeah, I suspected he was a manipulative, sex-trafficking pedophile, but I was cool with it because here's what the world got out of it."

There are plenty of good places to discuss moral nuances. But maybe try it in a place where it doesn't derail from holding people accountable for their behavior.


I'm not "engaging" because I'm not taking any specific position. In my experience debating moral values is about as productive as punching yourself in the face. These are issues that people should come to their own personal conclusions on. But as mentioned the issue I saw here is that many people were seemingly not even considering the underlying moral issue here before racing to condemn.

Online 'accountability' often heads directly into the domain of mob mentality. I think if more people stopped to ask 'hey is our outrage even really justified?' that the world be a much nicer place for everybody.


Morality is inherently social. A person living alone on an island has no need of morality. So I don't think the notion of a strictly personal morality even makes sense.

And neither do you, or you wouldn't be here arguing for some very specific moral choices of your own. You claim you're not taking any specific position, but you of course are. Your repeated intervention in the discussion demonstrates that. And your unwillingness to spell out the implications of that position is telling.


As long as Epstein didn't gain materially in the exchange, who cares where the money came from?


Does Epstein seem like a guy who did a lot of things just to make the world better?

Of course he gained in the exchange. He was an astute buyer of prestige, of legitimacy. Look at the scientists who went to bat for him after he had already been indicted, even convicted.


The end never justify the means.


So everyone who ever worked or met Epstein is guilty by association ?

Is this what journalism is ? - Naming and Shaming people where there is no crime or unethical act committed.


These people also socialized with him and when they accepted money from him it was after he was a convicted sex offender.

Look at Ethan Zuckerman's post on leaving MIT where you can see he urged Joi Ito to not get involved with Epstein because it was already well known that he was abusing underage girls:

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


Should we shame and refuse association with people who have already been tried and convicted and served their punishment? And should we then shame those who do work with people who went through the justice system?

What about hiring people who are ex felons who served time?

Who should decide what ex-cons we can and can't associate with? I'd like to know ahead of time, because I want to give the right people a second chance, but also avoid having my career ruined for giving the wrong person a second chance. Which twitter mob will enumerate this for me?

Perhaps in this case the problem is that corruption resulted in Epstein getting far too light of a sentence. I think it did. Is it the fault of normal civilians for not realizing and compensating for judicial corruption? Should we ruin their careers for the failure of our elected officials to prevent corruption?


I'm generally of the opinion that the way we treat registered sex offenders is counter-productive and that this article seems to be implying for more guilt than is reasonable, but saying that Epstein served his time is a stretch. He settled MANY civil cases out of court, and every judge involved that I'm aware of stinks to high heaven. First case found about 40 underage victims of things like paying them to undress and massage him, yet he comes away with a single assault charge. Eventually he is sent to jail, but basically comes and goes as he pleases - with a pretty generous work release schedule and probation agreement that he ultimately didn't even have to stick to. For a year.


Yes, it's not a good idea for high profile people (or anyone really) to work with convicted sex offenders. It was well known at the time that he got off very easy for his crimes. There was a lot of media coverage.

Optically it's bad, morally it's bad. There's also more to this than just "work" as well. If someone was a convicted child rapist, would you invite them and a bunch of young women to your parties and take pictures like this?

https://twitter.com/xeni/status/1165266579560521728


I recognize the point you're making, and I think it's fair to an extent, Epstein was a weird disturbed man. But my general point remains: who can make this clear for me (us?) ahead of time. If the rule is "give people a second chance, except those accused of the following sex crimes -- they must be shamed forever" fine. But I want it clear. Otherwise I worry we will find ourselves in a world where everyone, in fear of their career, avoids ever associating with the wrong person.

If we think our laws aren't working, so we need Twitter vigilante shame justice, i would prefer we rework our laws


I don't think this is that unclear. 99% of people would not invite a convicted child rapist and his entourage of young women to a party, take pictures with them then fly in a private jet (already called the "Lolita Express") to his residences that have already been in the news for being the locations of child rape.


he funded some scientists, whom he met by attending scientific conventions, or attracted via TED, etc, in many cases.

I don't think there is any claim that these scientists attended his under-age orgies, and were thus granted funding.


Yeah I agree with you, that's pretty clear. But I worry about edge cases, people who affiliated with him briefly.


> Yes, it's not a good idea for high profile people (or anyone really) to work with convicted sex offenders.

Doesn't that apply to all crimes that include victims? If I understand it correctly, that's the question there: do we treat a convicted sex offender differently than, say, a murderer or ponzi scheme operator? Critique regarding his deal and the punishment aside, do they get a clean slate after they've "paid their debt to society" or not?


Should we ignore the fact that money unfortunately matters in the judiciary? There is no mechanism right now to counterbalance that greater power that comes with wealth. You are right, people who've served their time or paid their due should be afforded a second chance. After all, the goal of penalties is not revenge, it is rehabilitation: the hope that a person has changed their ways.

However, in this particular case, insofar as events have even made it to a court decision, it seems at no point this person changed their ways, and simply used his wealth to fund the legal details of continuing his behavior. I'm not sure what methods exists or what methods could be invented to account for such misuse of wealth, but it is clear this person was afforded too many second chances: he seems to have never intended to correct his behavior. It seems to me that in that space it is valid to exercise your personal right to not associate with a lastingly suspect character.


> Should we shame and refuse association with people who have already been tried and convicted and served their punishment?

1) His "punishment" was an illegally arranged joke.

2) There's a vast chasm between shaming someone convicted of a crime and Epstein's welcomed return to polite society. He should've been working a wage-slave job like the rest of us.


So to be clear, I agree. It was a miscarriage of justice. My specific question is by what metric should we decide to ruin the career of a person who worked with him? Should we reasonably expect all persons to notice when justice isn't served due to corruption, and then ruin their career as a result?


It's a moral metric, of course. But this case is so egregious I don't even know how to answer your question.

> Should we reasonably expect all persons to notice when justice isn't served due to corruption, and then ruin their career as a result?

For a well-documented monster? YES!

Don't worry there are thousands of scientists ready to take the place of people like Pinker and the other "fallen heroes".


Has anyone's career been ruined by this association? I don't think e.g. Trump or Clinton have suffered a bit...


> Who should decide what ex-cons we can and can't associate with?

The answer to these questions is: It's totally up to you who you associate with.


There was a difference between Epstein and the typical victims of overzealous moralizing sex offense prosecution, like 19yo boyfriends of 16yo women and drunks who urinate in public.


Is it necessarily damning even then? I mean, if he had $25,000 to give to medical research, would you really care if he was a sex offender, or bank robber, or whatever?


> So everyone who ever worked or met Epstein is guilty by association ?

I think “of interest by association” is more what is going on,and appropriately so.

> Is this what journalism is ? - Naming and Shaming people where there is no crime or unethical act committed.

“investigating and reporting facts related to matters of public interest even before it is clear what the import of those facts are, in part because that both provokes people to come forward with related information and enables additional parties to do their own related inquiries” would be more accurate than your loaded language, but, yes, reporting on matters that provide context to matters already in the public eye (which, in this case, do involve both crimes and other unethical acts) that are not themselves clearly criminal or unethical is an important part of journalism.


So if some Church pastor gets convicted for sexual abuse of children, Can buzzfeed publish the list of all church going members in the area with their photographs ?


If those church members, as here, received large sums of money from the pastor? Or supported him publicly? 100% yes.

I think it's especially obvious with churches. When a bunch of people get together to fund and empower a guy, they share responsibility for what is done with that power. If that power is used to harm, a factual accounting of who did what seems entirely fair, as does asking them what they have to say for themselves.

Your analogy isn't very good, though, because all of the people mentioned in this article are public figures. They sought out prominent roles in society. They receive significant benefits from the public, either directly or indirectly.


This is not Journalism. Journalism is what Julie Brown did since 2008. This is just Buzzfeed being buzzfeed getting some sure shot clicks.


I'm not going to defend whether this particular instance is good journalism, but Buzzfeed is not Buzzfeed News. A 2017 study in Journalism found Buzzfeed News was comparable to NYT, for what that's worth.


Using a "study in journalism" as an appeal to authority w.r.t. the reputability of a media company is really strange, citation or no.


I wasn't making an appeal to authority, I was noting that, like I said in my first sentence, Buzzfeed and Buzzfeed News aren't the same thing. I then go on to say, for whatever it's worth, at least one study in journalism considered Buzzfeed News to be quite good; I very clearly neither agreed nor disagreed with that decision. It should also be obvious to the reader that there aren't any studies in journalism on the accuracy of Buzzfeed listicles, which would relate back to my original point, that Buzzfeed is not Buzzfeed News, for what it's worth.


I'm glad that this type of yellow journalism is starting to be recognized by the general populace. It's been getting worse for years.

These are the same activists posing as journalists that label someone like Joe Rogan "alt-right adjacent" because he's willing to have a conversation with people right of center.


I agree, this witch-hunt journalism is BS.

It's fine to bag politicians and 'other tycoons' who associated with him. There are legitimate concerns about influence and, you know, who else is a pedo, in those cases.

But I think if I had been a scientist in need of funding, I'd gladly have taken his money, even knowing about the convictions. In fact, I'd have tried to to take as much as I possibly could, and then tell him to FO once I'd done my breakthrough study.

It's different if the scientists were 'bending' their results to his benefit, but I don't think that's the case here.


The awkward part of this is that it seems someone like Epstein did not do something for nothing. The suspicious aura around him means that all of these high-profile people around him may have done some kind of tit-for-tat. Yes, barring evidence, this is all very much hearsay and his untimely death closes a lot of doors to confirm these suspicions, but the amount of circumstantial evidence involving shadyvdealibgs with the guy is enough to make this kind of thing notable.

And I absolutely think it matter where the money comes from, because not all money is equal. Funding agencies, grants, and other sources of money all have their own conditions, terms, and obligations. If you think Epstein's was without, then I think that is naïve.


and that's exactly what I mentioned. If the money comes with terms, or expectations of some kind of reciprocation, of course, it must be rejected.

If it's just money from a bad guy that happens to be interested in AI, medicine, or whatever, and I really suspect he justified himself by funding such 'good causes' - take it all! Ruin him!


The thing is, high profile business and science people associating and partying with Epstein didn't ruin him, it legitimized him. They didn't just take a check, they invited him into their social and business circles and he intern did the same for them. He went on to continue raping girls during this time period (after his arrest) and the legitimacy these people provided did not help one bit, they basically reintegrated him into power.


You are reading more to the article that what the article says.

Epstein was some kind of confidence man and hustler in addition to using underage girls for sex. It's interesting to see how wide his network was. He was able to buy or wiggle into the life of these people using his money and connections.


>So everyone who ever worked or met Epstein is guilty by association ?

If you met him after his first brush with the law (and that's putting it very delicately) yes, you are guilty of association. I don't think it should be taken lightly.

The article itself doesn't make any accusations outside of the association.


> you are guilty of association

Guilty of which crime ?


Who says all guilt must be criminal?


None, actually, you should be congratulated for taking it despite the crimes and putting it into good use. That is a sum he can't spend on getting out or abusing more children.


No on has ever explained where he got all his money from. It seems like he blackmailed a bunch of extremely wealthy people into giving him money to ‘manage’ and then used that money to ensnare more and wealthier and influential people. He probably contacted and funded far more people than he managed to compromise.

It looks like he started with the current attorney general’s father, who hired him to teach at a school despite him not having any relevant credentials, then managed to get to one of the kids parents who brought him to Wall Street.


I hope these details come out (despite the attempts of powerful people to prevent that). This story is likely to get even weirder as it all unfolds.


I suspect each and every “customer” he had was compromised/blackmailed. Additionally there are subtle indications that he has intelligence connections and was perhaps even state sponsored. Now which state ... well of course I’ll be flagged and downvoting to suggest this but most logical is Mossad. Interesting he had a fake Saudi passport and diamonds, among many many other hints there is an intelligence angle to this story.


> Now which state ... well of course I’ll be flagged and downvoting to suggest this but most logical is Mossad.

I know Mossad has a reputation of being a law unto itself unbound by outside authority, but it is not actually a distinct state—if you want to say Israel, just say Israel.


Ok sure but how can I say it without being accused of being anti-semitic, I was thinking using the intelligence agency name is more appropriate than an entire country!

I am NOT ever anti-semitic, but maybe Mossad gets away with crazy stuff exactly because any westerner who complains is immediately branded as such.

Note: the entire post is flagged now and removed from HN front page.


> Ok sure but how can I say it without being accused of being anti-semitic

It would help to present some rational basis supporting the, conclusion.

Of course, if you can't see how your conclusion could be seen as anything other than anti-Semitic, maybe there is a reason for that.


No there is many indicators that Mossad is the most likely sponsor. His well established link to Ehud Barak the ex-PM who has deep extensive intelligence history is an example. It would be extremely long post to detail all the evidence.

It’s not unreasonable to suspect he successfully compromised both a sitting US president and the son of the Queen of England, and that is only the beginning of the list.

Which intel agency is most likely? Obviously Mossad should be at the top of the list ... but yeah OK let’s remove it, I’m anti-semitic.


That particular aspect of his persona may be somewhat interesting, but I dislike how they need to list names of scientists and walk them through. It makes it uncomfortably transparent why Buzzfeed is doing this and I disagree with them. If anything, pedophilia can be expected to be a very privately held and guarded part of oneself and none of these persons can be expected to have known. Acting on pedophilia is one of those crimes that really, REALLY need to have a smoking gun for associations not the least because it can be so damaging to others being falsely accused.


There was nothing private about it. There was a ton of media coverage at the time about Epstein molesting young girls. Ethan Zuckerman urged Joi Ito not to get involved with him but was ignored:

http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2019/08/20/on-me-and-the-...


A lot of this information came out last week on Xeni's Twitter account: https://twitter.com/xeni

She's been doing an amazing job digging into Epstein's relationships with the science and tech community (some of it first hand).

For example: https://twitter.com/xeni/status/1165266579560521728


The digging is skilled, but the assumptions that go with them don't appear to be supported?

> "John Brockman knew. Here he is with one of Jeffrey Epstein’s rape victims on one side, and alleged abuse coordinator"

Being photographed with someone isn't the same as knowing that they're being raped. Is there more to that?


You wouldn’t find it odd that someone who had no children of his own was constantly surrounded by teenage girls? I sure would. Yes, that’s not the same as knowing that they’re being raped, but I’d sure want to distance myself from someone who was behaving like that.


Being odd is not a crime. What any one person would do is often not a strong indicator of what is right. A lot of people also like to distance themselves from black people. Them being black is not the same as knowing that they're violent criminals, but...

The kind of thought process that you're suggesting has very toxic tendrils.


Let me put it this way: a middle-aged man, with no children of his own, regularly hanging out with underaged girls is more than odd - it’s a warning sign. There really aren’t many (if any) non-sleazy explanations for that behavior. He didn’t even have a credible cover story, like working with disadvantaged young women.

Comparing this to avoiding black people based solely on the color of their skin (and not that there are warning signs) is not remotely the same.


> it’s a warning sign

Or it's not, because your preconceptions aren't universal? Is there a factual basis for this other than "I don't like it"?

> Comparing this to avoiding black people based solely on the color of their skin (and not that there are warning signs) is not remotely the same.

It looks exactly the same to me. Many people think that black skin is a warning sign. The difference is in what you believe, not in what is happening.


He was already covered extensively in the media for raping under age girls. Brockman brought him to that party and then proceeded to take pictures with a bunch of young women that Epstein brought along.


> He was already covered extensively in the media for raping under age girls

When? The caption on the photo says "early 2000s". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Epstein says that the accusation leading to his first criminal case didn't happen until 2005. His conviction didn't happen until 2008. So how does that fit into the "early 2000s" timeline?


Money is power, and that power is necessary for continued scientific development. The problem isn't that scientists came to him for that money, it's the fact that the system is built in such a way that bad actors get to retain power.

The problem isn't that scientists went to him for his wealth, but that he had wealth after the first set of convictions. This should be our focus.


It looks that after all he did something good with the money. If more people would donate to science before to go to jail(or commit suicide) the world would be a better place.


Wait a second, is the implication that anyone associated with him was also somehow tied to his illegal sexual activities? That seems like a stretch, and this seems like an attempt to smear anyone even remotely attached to him. Its entirely possible and likely he gave money to scientists and they had no further connection to him beyond that. Buzzfeed is such garbage, how is it reaching the front page of hacker news?


Many of these people traveled on Epstein's jets and visited his houses repeatedly. There's a lot more here than accepting money from a sex offender (which in itself is really awful).


Exactly this, we seem to have a lot of "guilty by association" going on in society lately, but I think it will pass. There have been a few waves of extreme responses to limited real things that pass after a year or two lately.


> Morozov declined the offer of an introduction.

Looks like someone was able to read Epstein from afar and keep the distance.


I read this entire thing and don't understand what's the issue - is it that Epstein is trying to fund people who might give a scientific "excuse" for his criminal behaviour or it's just "scientist took money from bad man, bad scientist", because if it's the latter we might as well shut down NASA and the space program since it was funded by Nazis, etc etc.

Edit: I do think that Harvard, et al singing praises to him knowing he was a pedophile is wrong. But the article is really confusing as to what is trying to say (and it wouldn't be the first time science and human rights abuses or crimes are associated).


It is now accepted that all politicians are scumbags. So when they meet with Epstein, fly on his jets, visit his house, party with him, it is "only" as bad as expected. That does not rile up reads and doesn't produce clicks. So now the media has to go over associates where the internet expects better - scientists (and to some extend the tech crowd).


On this side, it seems to be largely related to Epstein's weird narcissistic eugenic breeding program, where he looked (or looks, if he is alive) to notably increase the proportion of the world population descended from himself.


> (or looks, if he is alive)

No conspiracy theories please. We have enough assaults on truth as it is.


I know it sounds crazy, but so does the truth so far. You don't know what's true, I don't know what's true, none of us do.

When the most important prisoner of the century so far suffers an untimely death in a facility which hasn't had a successful suicide for forty years, after a cascade of serious institutional failures, and that prisoner has had continuous access to extremely gifted scientists and medical practitioners for decades...

I think it's likely that he's dead, but the alternatives are within the realm of reality. It may be a conspiracy theory, but you know... sometimes people conspire don't they?

People theorize about all sorts of other things on this platform; things far more unimaginable than this.


Yeah I remember when there was a conspiracy theory about a bunch of politicians and important people being associated with a pedophile pervert sex ring... amazing what people will believe!


Well, the likeliest explanations are that he successfully committed suicide, was successfully murdered, or was placed into witness protection. None of those seem very likely, but none of those seem significantly less likely than the others either.


In a way it reminds me of the later funding patterns of the Pioneer Fund. I wonder if there's any overlap..




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