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Joi Ito Resigns from M.I.T. Media Lab After Outcry over Jeffrey Epstein Ties (nytimes.com)
806 points by Anon84 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 694 comments
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Internal email this afternoon from President Reif:

To the members of the MIT community,

Last night, The New Yorker published an article that contains deeply disturbing allegations about the engagement between individuals at the Media Lab and Jeffrey Epstein.

Because the accusations in the story are extremely serious, they demand an immediate, thorough and independent investigation. This morning, I asked MIT’s General Counsel to engage a prominent law firm to design and conduct this process. I expect the firm to conduct this review as swiftly as possible, and to report back to me and to the Executive Committee of the MIT Corporation, MIT’s governing board.

This afternoon, Joi Ito submitted his resignation as Director of the Media Lab and as a professor and employee of the Institute.

As I described in my previous letter, the acceptance of the Epstein gifts involved a mistake of judgment. We are actively assessing how best to improve our policies, processes and procedures to fully reflect MIT’s values and prevent such mistakes in the future. Our internal review process continues, and what we learn from it will inform the path ahead.

Sincerely,

L. Rafael Reif


If Xeni Jardin's claim below is true, Joi Ito needs to resign from more than just MIT:

"I told the @nytimes everything. So did whistleblowers I was in touch with inside @MIT and @Edge. They printed none of the most damning truths. @joi is on the board of the NYT. THANK GOD FOR @RonanFarrow"

EDIT: NYTimes is now indicating that Ito has resigned from NYT Co board, effective immediately [2].

[1] https://twitter.com/xeni/status/1170352857952002048

[2] https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1170449747041226757


I read a few more of Xeni's tweets, and wanted to get HN's honest opinion on them. It seems (to me) like a lot of people on Twitter (and HN?) are over-reacting.

For example, Xeni's pinned tweet references this other tweet (https://twitter.com/xeni/status/1165266579560521728), which implies that anybody who was ever at a dinner with Epstein should be considered complicit in Epstein's crimes. Take this quote, for example:

> I would like to not be sued or disappeared, but I would also like people to seriously register the fact that Amazon and Google CEOS/Founders were at the gathering alluded to in this Twitter thread. Their names are in the screen grab. Don’t sue me please. I have no money.

This seems to imply that anybody at this dinner (that Epstein) was complicit. Other attendees include Daniel C. Dennett, Steven Pinker, Marvin Minsky (yes, that Marvin Minsky!). Is it just me, or does that strike anybody as an overreaction?


> Steven Pinker, Marvin Minsky

It just sounds like you haven't been paying attention at all. Are you aware that a woman has claimed that she was forced to have sex with Marvin Minsky by Epstein on his island?

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/9/20798900/marvin-minsky-jef...

Are you aware that Pinker has flown on the "Lolita Express" and helped with Epstein's legal defense, a legal defense that led to him avoiding a prison term in a manner that seems aptly describable as "corrupt"?

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/07/17/steven-pinker...

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jul/12/alex-acosta-...

If you were not aware of these things, please engage in some honest introspection regarding how you ended up decrying attempts to reach justice for them as overreactions on the Internet.


> Are you aware that a woman has claimed that she was forced to have sex with Marvin Minsky by Epstein on his island?

Yet the her deposition does not actually make that claim, but rather that she was directed to approach Minsky for sex. A third party witness reports that that he turned her down and was apparently complaining about the incident. https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/339725/

If you were not aware of these things, please engage in some honest introspection regarding how you ended up decrying attempts to constrain overreaction-- and potentially defaming an innocent person who isn't around to defend themself-- and allow a calm deliberative process to search for actual justice.


Why should we believe Benford? How do we know there weren't other incidents?

Given Minsky's well-established long-running ties to Epstein, I don't think we can afford not to believe the allegations against him. I find it especially painful because I was once a student in one of his courses, it was a great experience and I didn't suspect a thing about him - but you never know.

Never meet your heroes. Never have heroes.


> Why should we believe Benford?

You could start with because the claim Minsky went along with it was never offered by the accuser in the first place!

There is something to debate about how far you should believe accusations without investigation or evidence ... but this isn't that, this is jumping to hysterical ends without even an accusation being made, assuming the worst about someone whom-- as far as I know-- no one had even the slightest concern about, even in the face of contradicting evidence. It's an area that deserves more investigation and inquiry, but as far as I can tell-- that's it.

I don't know how to see that as anything but a straight up witchhunt where no one targeted could ever be found innocent.

My above comment is now, I think, my highest upvoted HN comment ever, even though it is a striking contrast to most of the posts in this thread. I suspect a lot of people are afraid of challenging the witchhunt.


Even if everything Benford said is true and there were no other incidents, Minsky still knew that Epstein was pimping young girls out at his conferences and kept taking Epstein's money and attending the conferences for years afterward. That's awfully damning.

> I don't know how to see that as anything but a straight up witchhunt where no one targeted could ever be found innocent.

Perhaps literally no one partying with the (confessed, convicted) pedophile and his suddenly definitely-consenting-and-of-legal-age entourage was innocent.


Specifically, the most charitable Minsky interpretation which we're being persuaded to take here seems to go something like:

* in 2002, Minsky asks Epstein to host an AI conference for him on his island

* while there, is apparently angry to discover that Epstein is prostituting girls

* later in the 2000s, presumably discovers that Epstein has now been convicted of prostituting girls

* in 2011, Minsky asks Epstein to host an AI conference for him on his island, again

...


Where are you getting the idea that Minsky knew any of it was at Epstein's direction or that she was underage?

The description by Benford was that at Epstein's event a young woman explicitly propositioned Minsky, he rejected her advance and was put off by the experience enough to remark to Benford about it.

It might well be that there were additional details-- that the offer was "Hi, I'm 17 and my boss says I need to have sex with you", or what not, and I'd agree with you if that were the case-- but no one there has suggested this yet.

Nothing obligates you to take the most charitable interpretation, but if you're going to claim you are doing so you ought to actually try.

I'll grant you that it sounds like it should have been inescapable to Minsky that Epstein surrounded himself with women where there were huge age and power imbalances, to the point of it being obviously creepy. But the same could be said about, say, Richard Branson or Donald Trump. It's a big jump to go from your original allegation of Minsky engaging in statutory rape and prostitution to 'he had to know that this guy running events for him was at least a bit of a creep'.

Maybe once investigations happen and disclosures are made it turns out that Minsky really did partake in those awful things but at this point they haven't even been factually alleged, much less persuasively demonstrated.


I don't believe you responded cjbprime's point here at all.

To make it 100% clear: the most sympathetic reading of Minksy's defense seems highly implausible: that he noticed and objected to prostituion of girls on Epsteins island in 2002 and subsequently, after Epstein's public conviction for trafficking girls and after encountering prostitution on Epstein's private island the first time, he still decided to host a different conference on Epstein's private island, this time in 2011.

The reading of this accusation is: if we allow that Minsky decided prostitution on Epstein's private island objectionable the first time, we are forced to ask how objectionable that could really be given that: it can't have mattered to him enough to go to a different venue for his 2011 conference.

Other relevant factors include how close Minsky and Epstein were. I believe Minsky's name and contact details appear in Epstein's black book; which certainly doesn't establish guilt, but should equally certainly justify at least some amount of suspicion.


He was never convicted of trafficking.

And there are no public records that indicate attendees of his events were aware that women were being paid or forced to have sex with attendees.

At least try to convict the dead man with facts and not innuendo.


I'm talking about Epstein's 2008 conviction after the in-all-likelihood corrupt plea deal, not his pending 2019 trial.

He wasn’t even charged with trafficking in 2008. Can’t believe I’m getting downvoted.

What specifically were the charges laid in 2007, and which charge(s) was he convicted on as part of his 2008 plea agreement?

The fact pattern for the plea agreement would lead one to conclude that Epstein could have been convicted for trafficking, and there certainly were rumors. It seems as if Epstein and his associates took everything rather lightly, which is something that the criminal justice system does not reward?

We are just now learning facts, many testimonies were sealed. Even the plea agreement was kept from the victims. Many victims are just now becoming aware of the existence of other complaints. Yes he did terrible things, but the full extent wasn’t clear to most people, including the media who continued to interview him after his conviction.

Epstein’s plea agreement is something Epstein had access to, he could have provided it to others on request. Epstein’s crimes being something others didn’t care about seems even more extraordinary when the worst crime in high society seems to be associating with Trump, at least according to Dershowitz.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/03/us/alan-dershowitz-martha...

Please don’t be so dense.


If a bunch of underage girls were unexpectedly present, and obviously had nothing to contribute regarding artificial intelligence, then 2002 Minsky can only conclude Epstein (as the organizer) welcomed the underage girls, or else Epstein (as the organizer) would have thrown them out. It's on an island, it's not a small town music concert where girls can jump the fence to skip entrance fees... they would literally have to swim to the island in order to ... attend an AI conference? Everybody present must have known what the girls were for.

How do you explain his experiencing and concluding this and repeat by asking Epstein for another conference?


> then 2002 Minsky can only conclude Epstein (as the organizer) welcomed the underage girls, or else Epstein (as the organizer) would have thrown them out. It's on an island, it's not a small town music concert where girls can jump the fence to skip entrance fees...

Aside, It's a tangent because what happened to the victim was crap regardless of their age... But, the conference referred to was in April 2002, and the victim was born in August 1983, so they were of age at that time. (I didn't comment on the underage thing earlier because I think it's a distraction to point out that it also looked like they were technically of-age-- it's always possible that there were other earlier interactions, but that's pure speculation and I don't see why anyone should assume such a thing unless someone makes some kind of accusation of it)


>...the victim was born in August 1983, so they were of age at that time

How do you go from "the victim", to "they were of age"?

You are replying to a comment that does not name a specific victim, the comment questions Minsky's choice to have his AI conferences repeatedly held on an island with groups of unsupervised underage girls, with pictures of topless underage girls scattered around the compound:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/contractor-jeffrey-epstein-quit-co...

This contractor worked there for 6 years starting from 1999 which means its representative of 2002

Also reread carefully what I wrote in my other comments, I never claimed it was Giuffre who probably had sex with Minsky, the deposition can contain testimony from other witnesses as well.


The public discussion about Minsky stems directly from a particular deposition that mentions him, without it I don't believe there would be any more discussion of Minksky+JE than there is of, say, Hawking+JE. This same deposition is what is discussed in the article Benford commented on.

I acknowledged the possibility that there were separate incidents at other times from what Benford mentioned, as well ("it's always possible that there were other earlier interactions, but that's pure speculation and I don't see why anyone should assume such a thing unless someone makes some kind of accusation of it")-- but was pointing out that if it was a was assumed up thread then she would have been of age at the time. From the description in her depo, she would have been a victim regardless of her age.

I've preferred to avoid using her name gratitiously because having idiotic internet discussions showing up in searches forever utterly sucks-- it can feel violating, with the public assuming ownership of your identity against your will.

I was of the impression that it was absolutely clear what depositions we were talking about-- I don't see how you could think it was anything else. Unless I missed something, the only other mention of Minsky in the depositions was a pilot that listed him as a person that was brought to/from the island.


Edit: according to The Verge (obviously citing the same testimony discussed in another comment) is from Giuffre, and a witness corroborates the account. That would have been in 2001, when Giuffre was 2001, so before the conference, validating my questioning

1) how Greg Benford knows positively that Giuffre is the same girl he saw at the event

2) how Greg Benford can exclude any other events: i.e. Giuffre and Minsky possibly having had sex before the 2002 conference.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/8/9/20798900/marvin-minsky-jef...

This assumes TheVerge correctly interprets the incomplete unsealed records.


Why are you assuming any of the guests knew they were underage as opposed to just young?

Why are you assuming that the guests in general knew they were there there for any other reason than the waitstaff at hooters is there for? -- To host the event and be attractive.

If things were as you seem to imagine them, why are the victims who have come forward not even alleging that?


>If things were as you seem to imagine them, why are the victims who have come forward not even alleging that?

Why are they not alleging what ?


They aren't alleging anything accused here.

One of epstein's victims said that they were directed to offer Minsky sex ( https://twitter.com/_cryptome_/status/1159946492871938048 ... and yes, I did indeed look before sharing the link to Benford's comment, did you look before spreading defamatory conjecture? ). That's it, wrt Minsky. They didn't say they did offer it (though a third party did). They didn't say they had sex with minsky. They didn't say Minsky or other guests knew they were underage, or that minsky knew they were involved in prostitution.

Beyond repeated proximity to epstein there has been no specific allegation of wrongdoing by Minsky that I've seen, but there seems to be plenty in the imaginations of the posters here.

Maybe it turns out those things happened but if they had you would expect them to have been mentioned in the allegations. Maybe they'll be alleged later-- nothing wrong with that. Until they're at least alleged, however, I think it's pretty absurd, and frankly extremely unethical, to just assume them out of absolutely nothing. Hell, if there was a victim saying "Minsky was a really bad man" I would have said nothing about the further speculation, it's only the utterly reckless outright fabrication from peoples perverted imaginations that I thought deserved any rebuke.


Object to the form!

Your original comment read:

>They aren't alleging anything accused here.

>One of epstein's victims said that they were directed to offer minsky sex. That's it. They didn't say they did offer it (though a third party did). They didn't say they had sex. They didn't say Minsky or other guests knew they were underage, or that minsky knew they were involved in prostitution.

>Beyond repeated proximity to epstein there has been no specific allegation of wrongdoing by Minsky that I've seen, but there seems to be plenty in the imaginations of the posters here.

>Maybe it turns out those things happened but if they had you would expect them to have been mentioned in the allegations. Until they're at least alleged, however, I think it's pretty absurd to just assume them.

With your karma, I would expect you not to:

1) retroactively change your upstream comment to reply to my downstream question

2) retroactively link to cryptome where you previously didn't, in response to my questioning if you even invested the effort to dig deeper


what bothers victim(s) beyond compare is not just perpetrators in denial, it's also those who blindly support people in high standing claiming there is no evidence while making no effort whatsoever to locate such evidence.

I would certainly agree if a potential victim of Minskky made a single twitter post claiming she had been "directed to have sex with Minsky" would look like some very misleading innuendo without actual claim of what happened subsequently.

However this is not what happened, you blindly follow Benford's conclusion, who is in turn citing the NYT, who is in turn summarizing an unsealed deposition. An unsealed incomplete deposition I should add, assuming the NYT isn't seeing the same incomplete deposition I am seeing. The choice of wording only appears suspicious because it is ripped out of context.

People like you are triggered by the seemingly suspicious choice of words "told to have sex", correct?

Did you or did you not before reading this comment actually even try to locate such a deposition? I don't know.

Part of me thinks you did, because you seem absolutely certain she only claimed to have been directed to offer Minsky sex. "That's it" in your words. How are you so certain? Do you have access to the complete depositions? If so, please share.

On the other hand, I think you didn't try to locate and read the depositions, because then you would have realized 1) there is nothing suspicious at all about the choice of words and 2) that in all likelihood, probably such a thing did happen.

Let me clarify 1) and 2), but first let me point out that incomplete depositions can be had at cryptome:

https://cryptome.org/2019/08/giuffre-maxwell-275-287.zip

Let me clarify 1) the circulated choice of wording "directed / told to have sex". This is a case between Giuffre vs. Maxwell, so obviously a lot of emphasis is placed on Maxwell's role in the underage prostitution scandal. Testimony needs to establish the facts that Maxwell directed these children as a third party to have sex with clients or targets. If the testimony merely said the child had sex with Minsky, then it would inaccurately leave out the fact that this was under Maxwell's (and indirectly Epstein's) direction. That's it. Your whole weird-phrasing-must-be-a-form-of-insincerity theory rests on the simple fact that her testimony is being ripped out of context (namely court proceedings in a case between Giuffre vs Maxwell.

2) regarding whether it did or did not happen

In the zip, go read pdf pages [144-149], note that those boundaries correspond to jumps in the deposition pages 128->203 and 208->247 so they are incomplete (as nearly all depositions in this dump). If you have the complete depositions, again, please share.

EDIT: a question to anyone who knows: I know the PDF file format allows for previous versions of a document to be contained within the PDF stream, but I am not sure how to extract or revover these, the reason I ask is because the file sizes are far from proportional to page numbers, so if anyone knows how to inspect this let me know.

The file sizes in kiB :

    324 giuffre-275.pdf
    468 giuffre-276.pdf
    204 giuffre-277.pdf
 121256 giuffre-278.pdf
    448 giuffre-279.pdf
   4744 giuffre-280.pdf
   2784 giuffre-281.pdf
    104 giuffre-282.pdf
 190888 giuffre-283.pdf
    508 giuffre-284.pdf
    236 giuffre-285.pdf
    932 giuffre-286.pdf
  10648 giuffre-287.pdf

to late to edit:

"Everybody present must have known what the girls were for."

=>

"Everybody present must have known what the girls were for, including Greg Benford."

Did Greg Benford join more of Epstein's conferences afterwards? How is Greg Benford positive it is the same girl or the same event?


You would only know what the girls are for if there were private rooms.

quoting Greg:

>Typical Crap Journalism from NYT:

>>“In a deposition unsealed this month, a woman testified that, as a teenager, she was told to have sex with Marvin Minsky, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, on Mr. Epstein’s island in the Virgin Islands. Mr. Minsky, who died in 2016 at 88, was a founder of the Media Lab in the mid-1980s.”

>Note, never says what happened. If Marvin had done it, she would say so. I know; I was there. Minsky turned her down. Told me about it. SHE SAW US TALKING AND DIDN'T APPROACH ME.

So irrespective if people were at times in private rooms, or at times in public spaces, people got opportunities to witness the presence of these girls. If she could see him, he could see her.


Ah, the Orient Express argument.

would you mind at least explaining what an "Orient Express argument" is? I don't have time to read fiction novels.

>- and potentially defaming an innocent person who isn't around to defend themself-

You mean "who is according to his own plans temporarily not around to defend himself"

Marving Minsky is probably "chillin" in Alcor, waiting for his mega-upload.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Minsky#Death

These people will not be the first biological organisms to be reanimated: that would entail too much risk as a guiny pig.

More probable is that before trying to reanimate any of these Alcor members, the technology of uploading will need to be tested (at least on animals first) to verify the upload conserves the episodic memories of the biological original.

This means time will pass in the interim, and regulations will have time to adapt to such new realities.

An obvious conundrum is the concept of time in law. If you can pause a person's life and then continue it, what about crimes commited before the pause? How does the statute of limitations then apply?

It is entirely foreseeable that legislative bodies will decide it is the subjective experience of time that counts: punishments are of a reformative nature, and a person who did not evolve between his crimes and his apprehension has not reformed.

So yes, in such a future it will be a frequent occurence to accuse the dead, and there should be no shame in that.

So even if a victim of a reanimated person is by then older than a perpetrator of some crime, or if the victim is already dead, it is still in the interest of society to punish and reform the criminal.

People who laugh at the plebs and don't worry about crimes they commit in their quest for immortality (thinking that the ends justify the means, thinking they will have the literally last laugh) may be sourly surprised when they wake up to discover things don't work like that.


[flagged]


If privileged people go down like this even without enough proof or contradictory claims (I don't think this is the case, but the user you are replying to seems to believe that), then you certainly should worry about it. It may well happen to anyone else, privileged or not. It's not only a problem for the privileged.

I’m 38 and afaik nobody has ever sent me underage women for me to have sex with them, that way I could have boasted to an external third party that “I refused”. When you’re 88 years old (so when biologically sex is one of the last things you should be thinking about) and when one of your close friends “sends” you an under-age woman that only means that that close friend of yours knew what you liked and what you were into. And make no mistake, Epstein was a friend of Minsky.

And I don’t buy this “it could happen to you, too”, because, again, afaik not me not anyone of my close friends has been sent “underage girls” as “gifts” (for one reason because we don’t befriend paedophile pseudo-billionaires).


> ... that only means that that close friend of yours knew what you liked and what you were into

That's the only possible explanation?

Perhaps Epstein wanted to ensnare Minsky in a situation that could be used to coerce him. That's consistent with Minsky turning her down, unlike your version.


What’s there left to coerce in an 88 year old who had been pretty happy to take photo shoots with Epstein before and whom the same Epstein had in his pocket based on the potential financial donations alone? All I’m saying is that Minsky’s influence was at that point behind him.

Uh... neither of those things is exactly raping a child? There would be plenty to coerce.

I’m saying that when a close friend of yours sends you a child to be raped then I assume that that close friend of yours knew that you liked raping children, orherwise he would have sent you something else or nothing at all.

I think you're assuming "friend" means "someone you like" and the purpose of a gift is to make a friend happy.

But among the powerful, "friend" often means "someone who is useful to know" and "gifts" usually have a self-serving motive.


Lucky you. I am 38 myself, it happened twice in the last year, both times only to make me complicit. The guy is in prison now, though for an unrelated matter and the girls are fine, albeit still digging for gold (but at least on their own terms).

PS: Morocco, not the USofA.


Uhh... wow. Would be interested in some background if you can share. Crazy world.

Not on specifics, but the scheme is the same: Sugardaddy brings girls to party, invites his "friends". Somebody takes pictures and suddenly you are not just "friends" but "best friends forever" with police, state attorney and judge.

Please forgive me for presupposing that your life is nothing close to the lives of the people we are discussing here and your intuition is not a useful model for figuring out what is normal and what isn't.

Yes, I did actively avoid until now to befriend convicted paedophiles, apparently for people like Ito or Minsky that was too much to ask.

So how do I go about finding out if someone is convicted of anything?

I just googled how to get someone's criminal record and the answer is basically: you can only get your own criminal record, because of privacy. If someone else, for example an employer, wants your criminal record, you have to get it yourself and give it to them.

I know a few people who are easily 10x more powerful than I am. In your experience, how can I best approach them to have them give me a copy of their criminal record?


You don't. If they require any restricted contact with the general populace they will be either incarcerated or have restraining orders. If you believe the person should forever be in societies debt I guess the death penalty is more practical. (the last sentence is in sarcasm)

> Are you aware that Pinker has flown on the "Lolita Express"

(1) This happened in 2002, (2) Pinker didn't know Epstein personally at the time and the ticket was booked by his literary agent, (3) the flight was to a science-related event in California and included other scientists who were also booked by the same literary agent.

Simply saying, "Pinker has flown on the Lolita Express" and leaving it at that is an intentionally misleading attempt to create a false image of what happened in the reader's mind.

> Pinker… helped with Epstein's legal defense

Alan Dershowitz, a professor at Harvard alongside Pinker, represented Epstein in that case. Pinker is a linguist. At some point Alan asked Pinker for his opinion about the semantics of a law, Pinker gave it, and that opinion was cited in a court document.

Again, it's intentionally misleading to simply say that Pinker helped with Epstein's legal defense that led to him avoiding a prison term.

This is one of the worst things about the Internet -- people happily joining in on witch hunts intended to destroy other people based on no more information than a misleading soundbite, headline, or tweet.

You're proving the OP's point about overreactions.


> the flight was to a science-related event in California and included other scientists who were also booked by the same literary agent.

That literary agent being John Brockman, who seems to be in as deep as anyone - he pitched "science-related events" to his writers by saying Epstein would be bringing girls!

https://newrepublic.com/article/154826/jeffrey-epsteins-inte...


Alan Dershowitz tends to deny the accusations with unnatural lawyerly wording and odd personal attacks - this has led me to adjust my priors so now I suspect there is a >50% chance that Dershowitz is a pedophile rapist.

Pinker being close to Dershowitz is a red flag to me.


The world is full of defense attorneys. They play a necessary role in our legal system, and I would generally hope that they defend their clients with zeal. This doesn't make them noble and good by any means.

But to claim that a defense lawyer being lawyerly means they are >50% likely to have committed the same crime as their client is questionable, to say the least.

The human tendency to direct our ire and malice in an ever-outwardly expanding circle of blame-by-association is exactly what feeds lynch mobs.


I'm talking specifically about the allegations that Dershowitz committed rape, not his actions as a defense lawyer.

I encourage you to read his statements and decide for yourself whether his refutation is credible - I find his insinuation that the accuser was attempting to extort him implausible.


> Epstein's legal defense, a legal defense that led to him avoiding a prison term in a manner that seems aptly describable as "corrupt"?

Helping someone prepare a legal defense is not a crime.


Yes, it strikes me as overreaction.

I've been shocked to see in the past few years how common it is for nothing more than the implication of some unqualified 'association' between people/groups to settle folks' minds on some issue or other.

That some vague association exists between people/groups at most creates a demand for more information—it's a type of statement characterized by the giant hole in its front and center. Further, it's a type of statement whose information content is 100% latent until the hole is filled. It is a prompt for investigation—not an indictment of any kind.

Note: I have no comments on the particulars of this situation (in fact everything I've read leads me to believe a lot of people with varying degrees of guilt are being rightly exposed)—I'm only commenting on the general structure of stance-taking, information sufficiency, and valid argument forms in general.


I think what’s interesting is the question of how powerful people may be knowingly covering for one another. We can’t say from them being at the gathering that they for sure aided in Epstein’s crimes, but it might warrant further investigation.

It seems that a lot of people are of the opinion that Epstein did not get due punishment for his crimes and whatever jail time was given to him he tried everything to reduce it's severity by using his money.

This is true but instead of acting or speaking out against these loopholes in the justice system which to be fair are exploited by every rich/influential person convicted of a crime, what is happening is that people have got out the pitchforks and they want to burn everyone who ever associated with Epstein. A mere association or even a suspicion of association is being equated to a crime. This is not justice this is a mere knee-jerk reaction to the inadequacies of the justice system and will do more harm than good.


This is mob justice, I agree, but will do some good in the long run. It will serve as a reminder to self regulate in the future. If another Epstein comes along there will be visible distancing from him.

There wouldn't be a mob if the DOJ didn't cut him a sketchy plea deal. The failure of the institutionalized process is what has lead to distrust in the institutional narrative about Epstein.

The issue of the two tiered justice system which exists for the benefit of plutocrats is separate from and in addition to the issue of plutocrats associating with a known and confessed child predator, in exchange for god knows what favors. Whether or not they did anything criminal, these individuals' "mere association" with Epstein after his 2008 conviction demonstrates extremely poor character judgment at best, and makes it completely reasonable to wonder whether something more sinister was at work. Why did people like Gates and Hoffman, for whom the amounts Epstein donated were a rounding error, have anything to do with him in the first place?

> This seems to imply that anybody at this dinner (that Epstein) was complicit.

I was reading it the same way, until I got to this:

> I attended some of them [the same dinners] and I can confirm!

It seems like this person is tarring people for doing not more than she herself did.


Marvin Minsky was directly named by one of the victims in documents that were published a couple of days before Epatein’s convenient death, and those documents were mentioning that Minsky had directly sexually profited from an under-age woman. In other words he was a paedophile.

I submitted an article detailing all this stuff on the day of Epstein’s death, it had reached the top links of HN in less than an hour but then it was ominously flagged. I lost a great deal of let’s call it respect for the people that keep this website up, apparently letting other people know that a now dead AI luminary was a paedophile is considered tabu.


Did it concern you that the allegations might have been false? Or was that besides the point?

Of course it isn't taboo, and the idea that we've been moderating HN to try to "suppress the Epstein story" or whatnot is beyond absurd; it makes one feel a bit sick.

I don't have a link handy but the Minsky connection was definitely discussed here.


I have also noticed HN mods engaged in blatantly political flagging, probably driven by deference to YC's tech industry pals. My link to the Bloomberg article about all the WeWork CEO's utterly scammy self-dealing shot to #1 on the front page, then was flagged by mods as "dupe" even though another link to the article was nowhere to be found. Totally killed off the discussion.

You've noticed no such thing. Users flagging one of your submissions isn't "mods engaged in blatantly political flagging".

The WeWork story has had numerous huge threads—two major ones have been on the front page today alone. With suppression like this, who needs promotion? Ditto for the Epstein story, our only relation to which is nausea and a desire to hold it at the end of a stick, same as everybody else.

Please use the HN search box that appears at the bottom of every HN page and you'll have no trouble finding the major discussions that you're claiming don't exist here.


If only Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sergey Brin, and Jeff Bezos had demonstrated a similar desire for remove from Jeffrey Epstein, maybe this forum wouldn't have to grapple with an avalanche of headlines about Epstein's close ties to the tech industry, but alas.

There would be an avalanche of Epstein stories anyway. The tech angle just adds to it.

Let's just be honest here, the only people experiencing fall-out from the Epstein case are not Je-yank

I think it's sad that to even engage in rational discussion about whether and to what extent people were complicit in this, you felt compelled to use an anonymous account. I don't blame you, either, mob justice is horrible.

Almost as horrible as pedophilia being protected and normalized.

Far worse, actually. Mob justice is the force behind almost every human on human mass slaughter in history.

It's a far cry short of say diarrhea or malnutrition in terms of actually horrible things that kill millions of people every year, but as human-caused catastrophes go mob justice is many orders of magnitude worse that "pedophilia being protected and normalized." Sure, I'll die on that hill.

"Oh but think of the children."

It's very important to protect rational deliberation, dispassionate pursuit of justice, and truth-seeking behavior in general. Do you disagree?


The world is a much more fucked-up place than any of us can imagine. I believe Xeni Jardin, completely.

Yes, to my this is an excess of accusations.

What is Xeni Jardin claiming? That she brought the story to the NYT but they buried it because Ito was on the board? Why didn't she take it elsewhere?

Edit: I was looking for a bit more context than a random tweet. Had to search through a bunch of tweets to find it, but apparently Xeni tweeted about Joi Ito's connection to Epstein weeks ago.


This is well-known now. Epstein cultivated powerful connections deliberately to insulate himself from scrutiny. It seems likely that he deliberately put politicians and famous people into compromising positions to ensure their cooperation (throwing lavish parties at his mansion, supplying the drugs and the underage girls).

MIT banned Epstein from donating after his Sex Offender conviction. Ito did an end-run around that ban (in addition to taking Epstein’s money personally which is a separate level of unethical).

Xeni spilled the beans on this (Epstein bypassing the ban, Ito’s involvement) to the NYT, which then buried the story likely due to Epstein’s political connections. Many papers and media outlets killed Epstein stories.


> NYT, which then buried the story. /.../ Many papers and media outlets killed Epstein stories.

So, I imagine many editors from NYT and many other papers has resigned from their jobs and their memberships in whatever professional organizations, boards, etc. they have been on, because of that? Or the press is not supposed to be held to ethical standard because... well, because they are The Press, so they are above scrutiny?


The NYT has very prominently been in ethical collapse mode for several years now. This is just another in a line of a dozen or so scandals surrounding their credibility, or rather, their no longer existent credibility. They're the biggest joke in mainstream news in the US right now and that's not an easy thing to accomplish while Fox News still exists.

There is zero chance editors and journalists at the NYT resign over this. There are probably some infamous tabloids with higher ethical standards than the NYT at this point.


Sources? I haven't heard of any of these scandals. And even this story could simply be the NYT failing to corroborate the more salacious accusations with more than one source yet, therefore not running them.

IDK about their ethical motivations, but they made serious errors in judgement.

They delayed publishing on Bush’s illegal surveillance because his admin asked them to. IIRC they had the opportunity to break this story before he was reelected and didn't.

See also Judith Miller’s botched reporting episodes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/16/politics/bush-lets-us-spy...

https://www.salon.com/2015/07/30/the_new_york_times_humiliat...


She did take it elsewhere. Compare the NYMAG story and the NYT one.

She was involved in the NYMAG story? They don't quote or credit her.

I'm assuming so based on the tweet where she shares it and effectively says the NYT had the same info and didn't print it.

[flagged]


Yo, different publication bro. New Yorker != New York Times. BTW, NTY asked him to leave as well. Get your facts straight about 'fake news'.

Interesting to see the choice of the word “prominent law firm” rather than “excellent” or similar... an appeal to reputation rather than ability. Essentially, what Reif aims to do is what Epstein did... salvage his tattered reputation by affiliation with a more prestigious, untainted one.

This seemed inevitable after the New Yorker article yesterday detailing how Ito and his team hid Epstein's involvement from the university, which had disqualified Epstein as a donor.

Taking money from a dirty source is one thing; hiding it from the university because they've blacklisted that person in particular is about as unforgivable a crime as you'll find in academia


> Taking money from a dirty source is one thing; hiding it from the university because they've blacklisted that person in particular is about as unforgivable a crime as you'll find in academia

TBH, I've never heard of a blacklisted donor at MIT, so I'm a little surprised (pleasantly, as an alum).


I'm confused by the blacklisted donor thing. The first questions I had when reading about it was "when did he end up on this list?", "why did he end up on it?, and "how big is this list?"

It doesn't seem like any of the journalists even asked. That sounds like a very interesting story in and of itself.


The original New Yorker article says he was blacklisted after his 2008 felony conviction. I've been told that the CRM software used by university development offices is pretty phenomenal. It was hinted to me that it automatically annotates donor records with SEC stock transaction disclosures, and I wouldn't be surprised if it also annotates donor records with public criminal court proceedings.

>It was hinted to me that it automatically annotates donor records with SEC stock transaction disclosures

I assume this is so they can hit you up for money right after you sell a bunch of stock? Clever.


And also so they can revise their estimates of your net worth so they know how much to ask for without making it awkward.

It would be significantly more tax-efficient for the donor to donate (appreciated) stock.

Yea, I suspect his prior conviction for “solicitation of prostitution involving a minor” may have played a part. But, the details could be interesting.

I wonder how that happens, like what would have caused them to take notice and add him to a list?

In part, I wonder if it has any connection to Gregory Benford's description of Minsky's interaction with Epstein: https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/339725/


I'm just spitballing here, but if someone is involved in delivering millions of dollars' worth of donations to you, it would be reasonable to perform a basic background check on them, just to guard against huge potential PR problems. I doubt that they do the same over, say, $500 donations from random people, but once you're into the millions of dollars, you really need to know who you're dealing with. Background checks are used in many situations involving much smaller amounts of money (like entry-level jobs), so why not here?

And hi!!


So! There have been some interesting updates:

* https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614299/mit-media-lab-jeff...

Apparently "disqualified" status was a flag in their CRM essentially just meant "don't bother trying to cold call this person", usually set after three failed attempts to fund-raise from them. It in no way signaled any kind of prohibition on fundraising, and only available to development staff in any case. The whole tangent was essentially spurious and signified nothing except that his donations weren't coming in through fundraising cold calls.

But the real shocker is:

* https://president.mit.edu/speeches-writing/preliminary-fact-...

Media Lab's acceptance of donations from Epstein was known and approved by senior staff in MIT administration, the president even sent a thank you letter. The Media Lab had been directed by the administration to keep Epstein's donation's anonymous to avoid him using MIT for publicity or to enhance his own reputation.

So this whole idea that Ito was demonstrating mens rea by concealing his actions from the administration appears to be completely false. I find it shocking that MIT took a week to clarify this point.

I'd say I told you so-- but I didn't know, it just sounded a little suspect to me. Your alternative understanding also sounded reasonable enough...


Hi. According to MIT Epstein donated ~800k over 20 years, looking into a sudden large donor makes sense, but AFAIK there wouldn't have been anything to find 20 years ago.

Certainly possible, but it would be interesting to understand the timeline and reasons. The "keep this donation anonymous" would take on an entirely different meaning if it was prior to the prohibition, for example.


Except they hid millions as an anonymous donor per the nymag article. That’s whats so damaging.

Gates denial on that looks pretty strong, but regardless the timeline is critical.

Accepting millions from him in 2002 would be unremarkable.


The donations to the Media Lab under Ito, which are the issue here, were obviously post-criminal-conviction since Ito took over in 2011.

I’m also curious what eventbtranspired in the first place that lead to the creation of this list. What was the first name on this list, and why?

It is possible (and likely) that there is no "list", rather that it falls under the general prohibition not to embarrass the organization.

I remember similar stories about people who took money from Harvey Weinstein, for example there was an AIDS nonprofit he gave millions to.

It all highlights the difficult job facing people tasked with taking money from donors in this way. They won't always have 20/20 hindsight. They may learn about sketchiness after they already took the money. They may be so blinded by what they see as generosity and good will that they may be less able to see character flaws. I am not saying any of this happened here, but I would not like to be in a position to make these decisions.


MIT blacklisted him after his conviction in 2008. And Ito knew him well.

Your hypothetical example is pretty thoroughly unrelated to the case here.


What's wrong with a charity accepting donations from someone naughty? It doesn't make them complicit in their offences. Criminals often donate money to charities and victims in an effort to get reduced sentences, at least in my country.

Let's say I'm some really prestigious organization. By donating to me, a bad actor is in part increasing their own prestige by using my brand. By allowing them to do this I make it more likely that this bad actor can continue to be accepted by polite society and continue their crimes.

There are red lines beyond which a person should be considered socially radioactive and ostracized.


Not to mention the prestigious organization could be doing worthy work and gets tainted by the bad actor, especially if the organization has been seen as knowing about it or concealing it.

In my example of Weinstein, it remains a worthy cause to help people with AIDS, to prevent new infections, fund research, etc. But now maybe people hesitate to donate because of how they dealt with Weinstein.

In the case of media lab, obviously there are people making their career there who have nothing to do with this Epstein controversy. Now they may experience a sense that they are also tainted.

When such an organization turns a blind eye to this problem, they risk harm towards their stated goals and they do a disservice to employees, other donors, those who believe in them, etc.


Should rich criminal have ability to buy lesser sentence then poor criminal?

Didn’t you answer your own question here? Criminals paying money to reduce the penalties from their crimes seems like a net negative for society, even if it helps charity.

Anyone care to explain the down votes? I am not defending anyone implicated, or claiming knowledge of specifics, but saying that vetting donors in a world where the category of "criminal-philanthropist" is a thing probably gets difficult.

You should read the article and https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-an-elite-univer... and then ask yourself whether concerns about learning something retroactively are relevant to a situation where the problem was not just known in advance but established to the point that Ito had to circumvent MIT’s existing ban. Follow by considering whether bringing up generic distractions which don’t apply to this specific case is going to read like a good faith debate about the ethics of philanthropy or an attempt to distract or minimize.

You appear angry at me. I didn't argue anything in bad faith or attempt to distract anyone. Nor do I think the thing I said is totally irrelevant. There is a generic thing to be said about the "criminal-philanthropist" concept, it is a topic that many of us have not considered until stories in recent years, which seem to be a trend of more than one such offender, brought it to the forefront.

Note that I said “read like” — nobody in this thread can know what you were actually thinking what I described is the most obvious way I saw that those comments would be interpreted in a down-vote worthy manner. It might be useful to clarify your intentions to avoid that, especially since there are a lot of people who feel betrayed right now.

You said this:

> It all highlights the difficult job facing people tasked with taking money from donors in this way. They won't always have 20/20 hindsight.

It does not highlight that and no hindsight was needed. What was needed was to not go out of your way to conceal taking money you know you should not.

You converted situation into completely different situation.


In quoting me, you cut off my comments mid-paragraph. That is removal of context. I described several hypotheticals, the hindsight question being one.

Yes we can point at the misdeeds of Ito and others and they are awful. But there is a nonzero amount of people here that could fall into similar traps if they were in a position to accept millions from shady characters, which most of us aren't. If Ito, as bad as his acts were, had full realization of consequences (as he now does in hindsight), do you think he would have done this? I don't know the guy, but I am guessing not.

That is not to exculpate him or trivialize or distract. He screwed up majorly.


You mean, if he knew people will find out? Because that is only new information, really. Everything else was known at the time.

It could also be that he knew some facts, but was too stupid to realize their significance until after it blows up on him.

None of it is exculpatory, mind you.


It could also be that Ito is actually a collective intelligence made up of squirrels concealed in a business suit. Both seem rather unlikely, though.

But in these cases, how do you know?

In this case you know because Epstein already had a criminal conviction and MIT had already blacklisted him as a donor.

Here is one thing. If you want to get technical, without knowing everything we now know about Epstein, I am not sure a conviction is enough. MIT is not the criminal justice system. We now know that Epstein got a light sentence and the guy responsible had to quit his job in disgrace. But maybe not everybody knew this. Maybe he says, "yeah I did this thing, but I served my time blah blah, by the way please take this million dollars". And in the abstract, do you want to stigmatize every single convict or do you believe that some of them are reformed?

Obviously Epstein was not, and MIT didn't want to take the risk, correctly.


I mean before that. Obviously you cannot accept money from someone we discover is a criminal

In this case, I do know. It the stories were similar, then it was not not knowing.

In others, if you don't know, why does one assumes it was innocent situation that highlight how unclear everything is and required hindsight? It is real question btw, not rhetorical one. The older I am, the more I see how many of much lesser ethical conflict situations have not just red flags all over them, but clear breaches going on long before something blows. And how people like to not act on it all, because it benefits them.

It is possible that innocent people are being framed in that or this situation. But the issues with rich psychopaths building impenetrable circles of enablers around them are not that situation. People willing to go there are given advantages and build further circles of people willing to support them around them too.


> if you don't know, why does one assumes it was innocent

This is the same standard the US legal system uses, for one. "Innocent until proven guilty."

In the case of my comment I thought that it is easy to point out misdeeds but we cannot be overconfident in our own ability to prevent them under exceptional circumstances. If you were given money by a Weinstein or an Epstein, we all hope we could have the good sense to do the right thing. But how much is that actually the case? None of us are actually in that situation; few of us have been tested in this way. We could also be conned by these types. It is instructive to take a step back and understand that part. Perhaps this would help us be more vigilant should the situation actually arise.

The final point I would make. It breaks down a bit for supervillains like an Epstein. But for lesser transgressions, such as those I have seen in my own life, I can say that I used to spend a lot more time questioning people's motives, and indeed labelling people as psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists at a distance. Eventually I came to a realization that mentally maintaining these labels and reacting to them was a big stress on me and source of anxiety. It may sound radical, I would argue that thinking better of people by default will lead you to better mental health. But I have not figured out how this policy may apply to an Epstein, Ito, Weinstein, Hitler, etc. Thankfully I think such supervillains are a minority.


I didn't downvote you, but if I were to guess I would say people don't think discussion of the situation where a recipient might not be aware of the donors criminal activities is very relevant to this case. Epstein's felony conviction was public record and known to MIT.

the only thing I can figure is that in English vernacular the phrase "I am not saying any of this happened here" generally means "It may have happened, but we don't know" which is different than "obviously this didn't happen here but" which you evidently intended.

Lawrence Lessig just asserted on Medium [0] (without specific evidence) that the anonymization of Epstein's donations was done at the direction of MIT. If true, that loops the Institute generally into the whole scandal, where previously they had an almost bulletproof defense.

[0] https://medium.com/@lessig/on-joi-and-mit-3cb422fe5ae7


The general argument of 'it's okay to take money from bad people as long as that money isn't blood money and you take it anonymously' is hard for me to sympathize with. At the very least it gives that person leverage over you in two ways: firstly by the threat of ceasing donations if you become dependent on them and secondly by the threat of revealing their involvement in your institution.

Agreed, and I would that there's no such thing as "anonymously" except with respect to offical records. All the office staff knew it was Epstein. Donors outside the circle (like Bill Gates) knew Epstein was an agent of the Media Lab collecting donations. There's no meaningful sense of "anonymity", which makes Lessig's description of it as a shield almost comical.

This whole sordid affair and some of the ways people are commenting and writing about it has been one of those situations where I'm taken aback by how differently some people see it to me.

Just... don't deal with bad people if you can avoid it. Maybe your institute's endowment will have to remain at 16 billion dollars instead of increasing to 16.02. If MIT (and the MIT media lab) don't have FU money then who does?


I just don't understand what he would gain from the anonymous donation. Tax deduction? Even for the tax purposes the name of a donor has to be matched with a certain record, right? I probably sounds too naive but I want to know.

Lessig really seems to be glossing over Ito's facilitation of Epstein's power brokering. Just because his donations were 'anonymous' doesn't mean he didn't receive social benefit.

The thing I don't understand is why, if you've been blacklisted as a donor, you would want to donate? Can you still declare it on your taxes?

> “Have you managed to talk to many of my friends?” Epstein had been supplying me the phone numbers of important scientists and financiers and media figures. “Do you understand what an extraordinary group of people they are, what they have accomplished in their fields?"

-- http://nymag.com/news/features/41826/

That's why.


People are complicated. It’s entirely possible that Epstein was simultaneously involved in child sex trafficking and also genuinely wanted to donate to research initiatives he considered important. People can be pretty horrible on aggregate and still have a few good intentions left.

or perhaps the much simpler explanation that it was hush money / hush salary for victim(s) studying, PhD studying or working at Media Lab. What Ito received for himself was hush money to shut up about the hush money...

so why would a smart person like Gates voluntarily pay someone else's hush money? why are we holding Gates (sponsoring his behaviour) to a lower standard than Ito (passing on hush money) if my hypothesis is correct?

The official version in the media makes no sense to me: why would Gates finance Epsteins prestige through this so-called prestige-for-cash scheme? Why would Ito accept the money if the only way Epstein can enjoy the prestige is if everyone finds out about Ito? You can't publically associate while not publically associating with each other...


That's a bold statement. Do you have any proof to back it up?

I do not know this, of all the different explanations I explored this to me is the simplest one that explains most observations, i.e. selecting for maximum likelihood.

For example people have been noting many unusual things: for example that Ito used to run a nightclub, I am not saying he was doing anything nefarious there, but if Epstein is looking for a hushable department heads to place his "expired" victims, one can easily imagine him compiling lists of department heads with their backgrounds, and Epsteins reading of a department head without college degree who once ran a nightclub may explain this as Epsteins preferred choice.

There's a longer writeup analyzing the Ito related news articles and especially Anand's communication with Ito and Hoffman that made me think this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20904781

also some of my other shorter comments here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20906307

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20909440

but the most important observation is in my opinion the inconsistency of Ito being perfectly aware he can't be publicly seen accepting Epstein's money, while at the same time supposedly allowing Epstein to publically brag about his funding MIT Media Lab. Ito would never agree to simple prestige-for-cash since it would deterministically lynch him. No, it's MIT who doesn't want to be outed as doubling for a Cloak of Charity to host a couple of broken souls for cash.


Also consider that Epstein & any of his child abuse clients / blackmail targets, would prefer providing the victims hush money through a cooperative intermediary (who may be lied to that it is mere compensation, from a plea deal, "perfectly legal" etc) for 2 reasons:

1) interacting directly is dangerous: the victim could set up a hidden camera, record conversations, document financial transactions, have witnesses present, or have her bank testify on the origin of the hush money transactions. Financial transactions may be used by the victim as financial acknowledgement of their involvement in a past crime. They want to keep the victim silent without creating an ever increasing trail of evidence.

2) by having the hush money pass through societal institutions, they can continuously undermine the victim's faith in society, to make sure she stays silent.

Also consider the timing of the MIT Media Lab scandal: after Epstein's death, and escalating as the new academic year comes closer and closer.

Upon Epstein's death the victim, department head are worried about what will happen to the flow of hush money. And (ex-?)clients that all payed through Epstein are now forced against their will to find a new intermediary, or interact with Ito directly, or ignore and risk the victim speaking out?


This is gossip, but it’s well founded gossip as I am one or two hops away from him. Epstein was very upfront with the people he worked what that he liked “young woman” while giving them money and invited them to his parties etc.

I think it was his way to enmesh them and make them unwitting partners in his systemic abuse. Most people just went along, and were eventually given a massage from a child at his behest to further enmesh them into the conspiracy. No one could play the innocent whistleblower because of their tangential complicity.

The gossip I’ve heard is confirmed by those who knew him - https://www.salon.com/2019/07/09/i-was-a-friend-of-jeffrey-e... ;

> In the early ‘90s, at a Joan Rivers dinner party, my wife and I encountered Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of disgraced British publishing mogul Robert Maxwell and Epstein’s girlfriend for a brief period in the '90s. She has been accused of recruiting and grooming girls and women for Epstein; she denies this. I’d met her several times with Epstein; we were also “friends,” in that transactional Manhattan way. And might now become better friends. “If you lose 10 pounds, I’ll fuck you,” she said, with my wife standing next to me. And she too became dead to me.

> As his legend grew, many others were fascinated or amused or impressed by Epstein or simply delighted that he wrote checks to their charities. His interest in young women was no secret; Donald Trump famously applauded it in 2002. Vicky Ward, who published a long profile of Epstein in Vanity Fair in 2003, recently revisited transcripts of her interviews: “What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it . . . all mentioned the girls, as an aside.”

It’s why he was so disgustingly coy about what he did. It’s why Ito, who is quite smart, probably knew what was what. And it’s why he deserves his fall from grace.


I thought you were going to mention that comment about Trump saying that Epstein liked "his girls on the younger side".

I think what's interesting is the ethical dilemma here.

You have 1000s of people around you. No one is saying anything. Then they offer you money. Do you take it? Everyone else is? Then the counter to this is that of the 1000s of people that come crashing down why is it just Joi Ito and a few others?

The key detail here is that Joi isn't an isolated "king" like the rest of the people here.

They will all escape justice.


The sad reality is that the only folks who actually "suffer" from shame are those that have the capacity to see the world from a perspective other than their own.

It adds an interesting dimension to Steven Pinker’s thoughts about common vs shared knowledge.

Not everyone. Not even close.

> Donald Trump famously applauded it in 2002

Excuse me, but noting something, is not the same as applauding it.


Good. Here’s a particularly damning passage from Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker article [1]:

> According to Swenson, Ito had informed Cohen that Epstein “never goes into any room without his two female ‘assistants,’ ” whom he wanted to bring to the meeting at the Media Lab. Swenson objected to this, too, and it was decided that the assistants would be allowed to accompany Epstein but would wait outside the meeting room.

> On the day of the visit, Swenson’s distress deepened at the sight of the young women. “They were models. Eastern European, definitely,” she told me. Among the lab’s staff, she said, “all of us women made it a point to be super nice to them. We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.”

Ito worked with someone whom his staff suspected of continuing to traffic women — right there in their own office.

He also enriched himself from this relationship. From this NYT article:

> Mr. Ito acknowledged this past week taking $525,000 of Mr. Epstein’s money for the lab, as well as $1.2 million for his personal investment funds.

Truly despicable.

[1] https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-an-elite-univer...


A model from Eastern Europe is someone that does fashion modeling and is from that area. Euphemistically it could be someone from EE that has sex for money, but you don't want to beat around the bush when describing child sex abuse.

So they should either clearly say underage-looking girls or remove that paragraph because it's irrelevant and confusing.

I mean this is a story about child abuse and the author didn't think to ask those women if the "models" looked underage?

This guy was having sex with underage teens and possibly pre-teens, not "models" and not "young women".


Why should the New Yorker remove that paragraph? It’s the observation from someone who became a whistleblower on this matter. She tells the reporter that the situation bothered her staff so much that they suspected the women might be trafficked. Whether they “looked underage” is still conjecture and doesn’t make the situation significantly worse than what the whistleblower alleges.

> This guy was raping underage teens and possibly pre-teens

FTFY. An adult can’t “have sex” with a pre-teen.


Legal definitions of this differ per country.

As an example pedophilia in Finland is defined in criminal code as having sex with a person under 16. Rape is a different crime.

Sure you can also define it using rape and defining that a minor cannot give consent.

In the end these are just semantics. End result is the same.


There are no situations where an 11 year old having sex with a grown adult man isn’t rape.

Sure, some cultures or religions might say otherwise, but at the end of the day it’s just basic ethics.

It is just semantics, but everything in our life is semantics, so words are important. “Having sex” makes it sound casual and like relationship of equals, which it is not.


There are benefits of this style. The whole point of the law is that having sex when not equal is the bad thing, not the inability of a minor to consent.

Here it’s quite common that an 18 and 15 year old who are dating are being relieved from the criminal responsibility because they are considered to be close enough in their stages of development by the judge.

It may be harder to do that if it’s defined via rape. Because how would the development level of the older partner affect the younger ones inability to consent.

Personally I’d rather have this way instead of reading from the news how a married couple has the older one saying they are a registered sex offender because they banged eachother as teens.


I agree with you, and this is why my original post specifically referred to a preteen and an adult.

> It is just semantics, but everything in our life is semantics, so words are important.

Only if you don't understand the meaning that someone is intending to impart by using those words.

And I'd say that in this case, there should have been zero confusion, and that it was perfectly clear what people were trying to say, so the words used don't matter.


Relevant to that quote, it's important to point out that this kind of influence peddling fell apart, not when Epstein himself got caught, but when enough people at a high level decided they didn't want to be part of it. Ito himself clearly viewed himself as a kind of fellow traveller in Epstein's world (no idea if that involves sex trafficing! That's not my point!). Gates did too.

But Signe Swenson wasn't as willing to put up with that, even if she couldn't personally stop it. And by 2016, she was in the room too.

You can look at this through a "fuck the patriarchy" lens or insist on the fact that this was just people being people. But at the end of the day this is why diversity matters. Epstein's lures only worked on hetero men, and he fell when faced with a world of influential women.


So the only thing that can stop a hetero man is not a hetero man? No. Men who bought into his image were a certain type of person much more narrow in category than hetero man. And so you don't get the wrong idea, I'm absolutely not saying diversity isn't important. It is, for so many reasons, important to have people of diverse backgrounds and experiences around, in positions of authority, at all levels. Just not for this one particular reason of sniffing out predators.

> It is, for so many reasons, important to have people of diverse backgrounds and experiences around, in positions of authority, at all levels. Just not for this one particular reason of sniffing out predators.

You're being hyperspecific here with your disagreement.

I think if start enumerating them, you'll find almost all of those advantages you believe in are isomorphic to "different perspectives prevent groupthink". And alignment with the social world of a hyper-rich sex peddler is absolutely a kind of groupthink, no?

Again, Epstein could have his way with organizations run by horny men. That was literally his scam. And as the article (and others) details, this remained true even after he got caught, because enough horny men didn't "really" see what he did as so bad. But that ended once someone was in the room who didn't see things through that lens. That is diversity at work.


I think you're oversimplifying. You're seeing a single example of a woman standing up here and extrapolating that it was because she was a woman, and assuming that no men were willing to do the same. It's not like she was the only woman to ever come close to his sphere of activity. Also there were plenty of men involved in both the first and second investigations that didn't buy into his schtick, even if his power an influence got him off lite the first time. And his female assistant is reputedly the one who did a whole lot of the dirty work involved in recruiting and grooming his underage victims.

I'm not saying her worldview and background didn't help here. I'm disputing the idea that people of the same gender are unable to do the same. The fact of his multiple investigations points towards plenty of other people likely some female and some hetero normative males played significant parts there. Again, sniffing out sexual predators just isn't the exclusive domain of people with different genders than the predator.


> You're seeing a single example of a woman standing up here and extrapolating that it was because she was a woman

No, I'm taking an illustrative (and, frankly, really apt) example as a way to show readers here (who like you aren't generally very receptive to feminist arguments) the power of "diversity" in a way that makes immediate sense.

I'm certainly not saying that no straight man could possibly have been offended by Epstein. But, just as a matter of historical fact, most of his marks were fine with him, and they were AFAIK exclusively straight men.


But you make no logical case that this was actually found out because of diversity.

Herero men is irrelevant. If the situation had been reversed with gay men then it would be young boys instead.

Sorry, I don't get it. Somebody having assistants who look like models and are from Eastern Europe is suspicious of trafficking women? How? Why?

I have heard about Epstein, obviously with hindsight all sorts of things he did can be seen in a new light. I just don't understand what is so damning about the passage above.

Would somebody who is trafficking women really take them everywhere he goes? I thought it would be more of a secret affair.


That Epstein was problematic --- something that in essentially no doubt at this point after his indictment, imprisonment, and subsequent suicide --- was so well-understood to the Media Lab team at the time that they were considering intervening to help Epstein's escorts, on the off chance that they had been trafficked. That is not a position most people's bosses ever put them in, but it's what Ito did to staff at the Lab.

If your point is "they probably weren't trafficked at least in the lurid sense we mean when we talk about trafficking", sure, but that's not the point. The point is that Ito's collaboration with Epstein was not incidental, but rather deliberate, overt, and actually disruptive to the operations of the Lab.


I was specifically referring to the "most damning paragraph" claim, not an assessment of the situation in general.

I guess it could be seen as damning that his staff thought that way, implying some unhealthy context - as you said, if I understood correctly.

Or in other words, the damning part was not the young assistants, the damning part was MIT staff worrying about young assistants.


I can't edit the original comment, but to clarify: that passage is damning to Ito (and Cohen). The MIT staff were justified in considering the possibility that Epstein's assistants were trafficked, given his prior indictment and plea bargain admitting to procuring underage prostitutes. Ito and Cohen knew what they were doing was shady, as evidenced by their attempts to hide their dealings with Epstein from the university at large, which had placed him on a donation blacklist.

Using his position for his own personal enrichment is also, at the very least, ethically shady as hell, right?

I'm an Epstein Absolutist and feel Ito should have resigned way before Ronan Farrow's article was published, so yes, I think this is all very shady. I don't generally think people have a moral right to hold on to prominent directorships like the MIT Media Lab --- when you take that job†, I think you also undertake an ethical obligation to leave that post as soon as it becomes reasonable to say that your continued presence is a distraction or disruption from the mission of the organization. We crossed that threshold weeks ago.

Not all jobs! Just jobs like "Director of MIT Media Lab", where you're stepping into a high-profile role that you don't otherwise own or have some other moral claim on.


> when you take that job†, I think you also undertake an ethical obligation to leave that post as soon as it becomes reasonable to say that your continued presence is a distraction or disruption from the mission of the organization

While that's all well and good when it's an issue you agree with, would you be willing to apply that standard in the other direction? If Joi Ito had created a controversy by standing on principle for something you believed in, would you say the same thing?

My point being that you cannot divorce the distraction/disruption from the ethical view of the action itself. Many things are disruptive, but some disruptive things are ethically important. We do not want to discourage prominent figures from taking controversial stances simply because it might distract from the mission of their organization. At least, I don't think that's a healthy thing to do in an untargeted way.


I think people who accept high-profile positions don't have a moral right to retain those positions. It may not always be the case that they have a moral obligation to abandon them at the first sign of trouble; the analysis will always be fact-specific. Here, I don't think there's much doubt. Ito should have left weeks ago. He had to know this was going to happen; the last few weeks of drama have come entirely at the Lab's expense, seemingly as a long-shot gamble that Ito might weather the storm.

> I think people who accept high-profile positions don't have a moral right to retain those positions.

I'm not really sure what this even means. Everyone has some moral right to the position they're in. The question is how much.

> He had to know this was going to happen; the last few weeks of drama have come entirely at the Lab's expense, seemingly as a long-shot gamble that Ito might weather the storm.

This is sort of the crux of my point, though. Your original argument which you seem to be backing off of is that controversy alone is a distraction, and therefore he ought to step down because he caused controversy. And the fact that he caused controversy is certainly unequivocal.

What is equivocal is whether or not he did something wrong. And that is the true issue on which the rectitude of his resignation turns. It seems to me that he probably believed he didn't do anything wrong, and as such had a moral right to retain his position because he believed he did nothing wrong. Not that anyone in a position of power should resign as soon as they cause a stir.


I think two things:

* Ito's position at MIT was so compromised that, for the good of the organization, he needed to quit. He had an obligation to do so; MIT didn't owe him his role, but rather he had joined to serve MIT. He was doing so no longer.

* One reason he was so compromised, in my estimation of the available information, is that he repeatedly did something egregiously wrong. Once again: I've never even heard of a boss anywhere else in technology putting their employees in a position where they felt they may have had to intervene --- at the workplace --- to thwart sex trafficking by an invited VIP guest.

The former argument I think is clear and defensible even if you harbor doubts about how bad Ito's actions were.


> * Ito's position at MIT was so compromised that, for the good of the organization, he needed to quit. He had an obligation to do so; MIT didn't owe him his role, but rather he had joined to serve MIT. He was doing so no longer.

Of course MIT has the right to fire him. I don't really understand what you're trying to argue. The question is whether they should have fired him, which in my view is entirely determined by the badness of his actions.

I really cannot see you pursuing this line of argument with the moral tables turned. If the CFO of Chik-fil-a got forced out because it turned out they were supporters of gay marriage and Chikfila's customers didn't like that, would you be making the same point? That that CFO had no moral right to their position?

> * One reason he was so compromised, in my estimation of the available information, is that he repeatedly did something egregiously wrong. Once again: I've never even heard of a boss anywhere else in technology putting their employees in a position where they felt they may have had to intervene --- at the workplace --- to thwart sex trafficking by an invited VIP guest.

I think that's a very unfair framing of the issue. He invited Epstein over. Epstein brought his 'assistants'. It's still a question mark whether they were even prostitutes, let alone prostitutes operating in any sort of non-consensual capacity. What we have here is simply that someone at MIT speculated whether they were being trafficked. There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.


> I think that's a very unfair framing of the issue. He invited Epstein over. Epstein brought his 'assistants'. It's still a question mark whether they were even prostitutes, let alone prostitutes operating in any sort of non-consensual capacity. What we have here is simply that someone at MIT speculated whether they were being trafficked. There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.

How is it unfair? Have you ever been put in a position at work where it even crossed your mind that associates of a guest your boss invited might be sex trafficked? Have you even heard of that happening until now? We are talking about a truly extraordinary situation; can we not agree that if you have to even consider the question, something is very wrong?

The focus on whether or not they were correct about these particular women being trafficked is myopic. It’s 2019, and we have the benefit of hindsight: Epstein was indeed still sex trafficking. This instance may or may not have been an example of that, but ultimately the Media Lab employees’ fears about him were borne out.


What does "sex trafficked" mean?

Is it prostitution? Sexual slavery?

Why do you use such an unclear term in a discussion?


Is that really an important question? Is there an definition that would make it okay?

Yes, "why do you use 'sex trafficking' term?" is an important question.

Yes: if under "sex trafficking" we understand [consensual] "prostitution", then in some states it is OK.

But even if "sex trafficking" is not ok -- there are various degrees of "not ok".

That is why it is important to use clear definitions in a discussion. Unclear "sex trafficking" term converts discussion from rational to irrational, when everyone is free to imagine what exactly "sex trafficking" means.


I don’t know of any definition of “sex trafficking” in which it’s consensual. But just so we’re clear, here’s the relevant part of the quote:

> We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.


Do you have an information that sex that these girls had with Epstein or with his friends or with his clients - was not consensual?

The stories that these girls told suggest that they were free to leave.


To keep it short it just means pimping, which is illegal

1) Is it illegal to receive donations from pimps?

2) Is "forced suicide" a fair punishment for pimps?


1) I would assume so 2) I have no idea what to say about this. The punishment should have been served by the legal system which as we all know failed the first time around. The forced suicide as you call it is a terrible outcome, lots of important people escaped and sighed relief. We don't know what Epstein would have divulged and now we will never know that.

> How is it unfair? Have you ever been put in a position at work where it even crossed your mind that associates of a guest your boss invited might be sex trafficked? Have you even heard of that happening until now? We are talking about a truly extraordinary situation; can we not agree that if you have to even consider the question, something is very wrong?

Of course i've heard of that happening. People speculate all the time that older men out with younger, attractive women are being "trafficked" in the sense meant here. That sense being: they're prostitutes / escorts. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's not.

> The focus on whether or not they were correct about these particular women being trafficked is myopic. It’s 2019, and we have the benefit of hindsight: Epstein was indeed still sex trafficking. This instance may or may not have been an example of that, but ultimately the Media Lab employees’ fears about him were borne out.

The entire point under discussion however turns on the question of whether or not the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time. Not the evidence today.


> Of course i've heard of that happening. People speculate all the time that older men out with younger, attractive women are being "trafficked" in the sense meant here.

That is not the question. Has your boss at your tech job ever invited an important guest to your workplace, who brought associates whom you reasonably thought might be there against their will?

> The entire point under discussion however turns on the question of whether or not the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time. Not the evidence today.

No, the discussion is about whether Ito should have known at the time to not work with Epstein. tptacek is also arguing that he should have left once Epstein’s involvement with Media Lab was first discovered, since he had to know the depth of the story.


> That is not the question. Has your boss at your tech job ever invited an important guest to your workplace, who brought associates whom you reasonably thought might be there against their will?

No, and neither did Epstein. They had no reasonable basis to assume these women were there against their will.

> No, the discussion is about whether Ito should have known at the time to not work with Epstein. tptacek is also arguing that he should have left once Epstein’s involvement with Media Lab was first discovered, since he had to know the depth of the story.

I think you just reiterated my point. Yes, the question is whether, at the time Ito should have known not to work with Epstein. Whether the publicly available information at the time was sufficient to justify his exile from MIT.


A conviction years before on exactly the relevant charges certainly should have cast suspicion on him showing up with young girls in tow, especially when they would be arguably unnecessary in that meeting context.

It was unstated what the age of the women referenced in the article was. Indeed if it appeared that they were underage, that would have been deeply problematic. But I note that the article does not actually say that, which strongly implies that they did not appear to anyone to be underage. Because if they did, that would have been made explicit, since it fits the fact pattern attempting to be established here.

If we can’t agree that it’s suspicious for a pedophile known for prostituting young girls from Eastern Europe to then show up with two young girls from Eastern Europe, I think we’re done here.

Let me be more clear, then. If Epstein indeed showed up with a pair of 'assistants' that looked like they were underage, that is terrible. If Joi Ito condoned that or failed to act upon discovery of that, he deserves all the blame he's getting.

However, I note that the article avoids actually stating that the women appeared to be underage. It avoids saying anything about their age or appearance at all, other than that they were attractive. Had they appeared to be underage, that likely would have been made explicit in the article, since it fits the fact pattern that the article is trying to establish. Therefore we can reasonably conclude that the women in question did not appear to anyone to be underage. And as such, it is likely that they were simply high class escorts, and under no form of duress and in no need of rescue by anyone.


You’re right, ephebophilia is not a crime.

the evidence of him engaging in this behavior warranted him being exiled by MIT at the time

So dude who is (at the time) convicted of a sexual crime involving a minor shows up at MIT Media Lab with a pair of very young, model-looking women assistants, what what are rational moral actors supposed to think? That he's just a railroaded maverick?


> So dude who is (at the time) convicted of a sexual crime involving a minor shows up at MIT Media Lab with a pair of very young, model-looking women assistants, what what are rational moral actors supposed to think? That he's just a railroaded maverick?

It was unstated what the age or appearance of the women in question was. If they were of legal age, then they were likely simply escorts, in no need of anyone's rescue. If they appeared to be underage, that likely would have been stated in the article.


Someone was troubled enough to resign over this. Like, what the fuck, at his point, man? Every single comment you have posted about this includes some blatant misrepresentation.

> Someone was troubled enough to resign over this. Like, what the fuck, at his point, man?

People resign over things all the time. That isn't really evidence of much at all.

> Every single comment you have posted about this includes some blatant misrepresentation

You keep acting like you've made actual points, but you haven't. I'm happy to listen to your point of view, if you actually want to articulate one. You are calling out "misrepresentations". What do you think i've misrepresented?


[flagged]


> You started with conflating whatever happened to Epstein with felon disenfranchisement

I have articulated a justification for that comparison. You making an actual point would be referencing that justification and attempting to debunk it. That's how you make actual points.

> Somewhere in the middle you made up a definition of 'ostracism'.

I made one up? MIT refusing to accept donations from someone is not my definition of ostracism. It is the definition of ostracism. You may believe that that ostracism is justified, but the word's meaning is quite clear.

> Now you're saying a person convicted of sexual abuse of a minor should raise no questions when he brings women half his age to an MIT fundraising meeting.

I did not, in fact, say that.

pvg 7 days ago [flagged]

It is the definition of ostracism.

No. Not even close. I left you a lengthy comment about this to which you did not respond.

I have articulated

You're making excuses for a child rapist. Over and over and over. Again, what the fuck, man? Once again, I'm asking you this directly.


> No. Not even close. I left you a lengthy comment about this to which you did not respond

I responded now. I simply hadn't seen it.

> You're making excuses for a child rapist. Over and over and over. Again, what the fuck, man? Once again, I'm asking you this directly.

I'm not sure why you insist on misreading me. I'm not making excuses for a child rapist. I'm not excusing Epstein's behavior. I'm excusing Ito's behavior.


I don't think I can do a better job of explaining what I'm trying to articulate than I already have, sorry.

> The question is whether they should have fired him, which in my view is entirely determined by the badness of his actions.

Are you arguing that he did nothing wrong? In that case why did he hide his actions from MIT, after it had explicitly blacklisted Epstein as a donor?

> someone at MIT speculated ... There is no evidence at all that their presence was anything other than consensual.

Maybe so, but they had good reason to. Epstein by that point had already been convicted on the sex offender charge. And then he was going around accompanied by young European women, and there's nothing suspicious about that? Come on.


> Are you arguing that he did nothing wrong? In that case why did he hide his actions from MIT, after it had explicitly blacklisted Epstein as a donor?

Yes i'm arguing that Joi (not Epstein, obviously) did nothing wrong. I don't believe he did hide what he was doing from MIT - he hid it from the public, by not listing Epstein as a donor.

> Maybe so, but they had good reason to. Epstein by that point had already been convicted on the sex offender charge. And then he was going around accompanied by young European women, and there's nothing suspicious about that? Come on.

If these European women were underage, sure. If they were adults, what's the problem here? If they were underage, or the other employees of the media lab suspected they were underage, that would have been made explicit in the article. But it wasn't, therefore they weren't. Which means the only explanation for the term 'trafficking' in this context would be that Epstein was holding them against their will, something I don't think he's ever actually been accused of.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that the notion that the employees at the media lab were worried these European women were "trafficked" is bullshit. What they were actually made uncomfortable by was that these women were essentially prostitutes, and that I understand. That'd make me uncomfortable too. But it's not the same as bringing non-consensual slaves to your MIT meetings as implied by the phrasing of the article.


> Everyone has some moral right to the position they're in. The question is how much

They have some kind of right without any obligations? Care to expand?

> It seems to me that he probably believed he didn't do anything wrong, and as such had a moral right to retain his position because he believed he did nothing wrong

The latest reveal is that Joi Ito deliberately hid interactions with Epstein from the rest of the lab and from MIT.

His earlier denials were lies he told to keep his position.

The strongest possible form of your argument becomes 'He thought the behavior was fine but knew that others would disagree, so he deceived them to manage the situation', which is not exactly a slam dunk for your moral rights argument.


This is, essentially, control fraud. Ito was spending the Media Lab's attention, focus, reputation and researchers.

I'd like to think that this would harm Ito's reputation, but fully expect him to be installed somewhere cushy soon enough. This likely makes him more attractive to a certain type of employer.


Considering that the MIT Media Lab granted a disobedience award to MeToo advocates, that makes some sense.

Though it seems more pragmatic than a moral right.


> While that's all well and good when it's an issue you agree with, would you be willing to apply that standard in the other direction?

No.

We are not computer programs incapable of making judgements without relying on some arbitrary and sweeping generalization.

We can, in fact, distinguish between making a stand to support human rights or speak truth to power, say, and taking a stand to continue to engage with a convicted pedophile.

See also: https://mobile.twitter.com/dril/status/473265809079693312


To put it another light, consider Steve Jobs’s Vice President/cross the Rubicon speech about reasons not mattering. When you take on an executive job like this, one of the major job responsibilities is to resign for the sake of accountability when something terrible happens, regardless of whether it’s strictly your fault.*

The other parable is the one of Write Two Letters.

* Clearly, Ito was very much at fault in this instance. The coverup!


What's an Epstein Absolutist?

Might be some doubt about his suicide, but you’re right.

Doubt? Care to elaborate and substantiate?

How about we not, since it has nothing to do with this thread?

It has a lot to do with the timing of this thread. If he left a year ago I would agree but questions around his death put this story in the spotlight.

Your unhelpful reply makes just as much noise as a helpful reply answering the question by ALittleLight

Epstein was connected to many high profile, wealthy, and politically connected people. If he went to trial, his connections to these people may be exposed, and they may face legal liability.

There are a number of suspicious circumstances regarding Epstein's alleged suicide. In no particular order:

* Multiple bones in Epstein's neck were broken. This is possible in a suicide, but broken bones are more consistent with a homicide. [1]

* Multiple video cameras malfunctioned outside Epstein's cell coincident with his death. [2]

* Epstein's guards, who were supposed to be regularly checking on him did not. They were "asleep" before, during, and after Epstein's death. They later falsified records about this fact. [3]

* The explanation for the failed video cameras and the sleeping guards is that the MCC is under staffed. Yet, that's at odds with the fact that there was only one other suicide in the past 40 years at the MCC [4].

I try to think about how I would regard Epstein's death if it happened in a history book, in a foreign country.

"There was a guy who had material implicating numerous powerful figures. While he was being held in prison, recently released from suicide watch, isolated from his former cell mate in a cell by himself, cameras failed, his guards stopped checking on him, he became the first suicide in more than a couple decades by hanging himself by kneeling so forcefully against his bed sheet [5] that he broke multiple bones in his neck."

I don't think, if I were reading about this at a distance, that I would have any real doubts about considering Epstein murdered. The idea that Epstein's suicide is as simple as alleged strikes me as preposterous.

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/autopsy-finds-broken...

2. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-people-jeffrey-epstein-ca...

3. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/13/nyregion/jeffrey-epstein-...

4. https://www.foxnews.com/us/epstein-new-york-lockup-suicides

5. https://www.foxnews.com/us/jeffrey-epstein-used-bedsheet-to-...


> This is possible in a suicide

You don't know much about ligaturing, do you?

> Epstein's guards, who were supposed to be regularly checking on him did not. They were "asleep" before, during, and after Epstein's death. They later falsified records about this fact.

This is worryingly common in prison and mental health hospitals.

> Yet, that's at odds with the fact that there was only one other suicide in the past 40 years at the MCC [4].

Do you know what they're counting and how they count it? How do they define "suicide" and "at the MCC"?


I'm not an expert in ligaturing. Everything I've read though backs up what I wrote above, that it is possible that bones in the neck are broken in suicide by hanging, but more likely that they are broken by homicidal strangulation.

This news source [1] goes over multiple academic papers that attempt to measure the likelihood of neck bone fractures in suicide versus homicide victims. On my own, I've searched and found multiple additional academic papers that, while disagreeing on the exact probabilities, all support the general conclusion that neck bone fractures are possible in a suicide but more likely in a homicide.

The implication of your comment is that, unlike me, you do know much about ligaturing, so I'd be interested in getting your expert opinion. Are neck bone fractures equally likely in suicidal hanging and homicidal strangulation?

You also write that the guards falling asleep is "worryingly common". I'm sure that's true - but what worries me most about this case is the confluence of multiple unlikely circumstances. Unfortunately the guards fell asleep, unluckily the video cameras failed, against the odds multiple bones in his neck broke while he knelt against his bed sheet, and, surprisingly, Epstein was the first suicide in 21 years at the facility.

Regarding your question about definitions - my understanding is that "suicide" is meant as a person killing themselves, and "at the MCC" means an MCC inmate who killed themselves at the MCC.

1 - https://heavy.com/news/2019/08/jeffrey-epstein-hyoid-bone-br...


[I was fantastically rude the first time I wrote this reply. Sorry. I've edited it to be much less rude, but I might have missed some.]

> Are neck bone fractures equally likely in suicidal hanging and homicidal strangulation?

It's not a question I'd ask. We don't need to know which is more likely. We only need to know that it's perfectly possible and normal to break bones in the neck from ligaturing.

> Regarding your question about definitions - my understanding is that "suicide" is meant as a person killing themselves,

This is wrong.

Hypothetical Bob takes an overdose of pills, but does not intend to die. He calls an ambo. The ambo doesn't get there in time, and Bob dies. Bob took an action that ended his life: did Bob die by suicide?

> and "at the MCC" means an MCC inmate who killed themselves at the MCC.

Is it where the death happens, or where the action that causes death happens? If someone takes an overdose of medication and is then transferred to hospital does that count as a death at MCC or a death at the hospital?

The point I'm trying, and failing, is that suicide is very common, especially among prisoners, especially among those facing trial for sex crimes. You've present four items that you think are unusual, especially when combined. But these are not in anyway unusual. They're very common.

The thing that stands out is the "no suicide here for X years" which is clearly nonsense. I can't be bothered to trawl through Manhattan laws and stats to try to understand it, but if people wanted to they might want to look at who rules a death as suicide, why they might chose not to do so, what definition of suicide they're using (especially around mental state and intent), what burden of proof they're using (beyond all reasonable doubt or balance or probabilities), and where the deaths occur and whether that makes any difference to the stats.


You're free to ask, or not ask, the questions you like. If you want to discuss a topic though, it would seem reasonable to answer the questions asked of you. As I asked before, are fractures of neck bones equally common in homicide versus suicide?

This is actually a meaningful question. We know that Epstein died and had bone fractures and are trying to determine whether the cause of death was murder, or suicide. How likely is the homicide conclusion given bone fractures? How likely is suicide? This strikes me as a time to apply Bayes Theorem and update our beliefs about certain explanations.

To put the situation into a metaphor involving urns - suppose you have drawn a red ball from an unlabeled urn. You know the urn is either an urn containing 80% red balls, or an urn containing 20% red balls. Are you ambivalent about which the urn you've just drawn from is? Statistically speaking, you should not be - having drawn a red ball, while possible to do from either urn, is more likely done from the 80% red urn.

To explain the metaphor - the red ball is a bone fracture, the 80% red urn is homicide, and the 20% red urn is suicide.

I'm surprised to see you disagree about the definition of suicide. The example you gave doesn't seem to be compelling evidence of ambiguity in the term. In your example, an inmate has taken an action that resulted in his death and this is clearly suicide. The fact that your notional inmate didn't intend to die may make for a philosophical debate about the definition of suicide - but given that nobody could know what the true intentions of the recently deceased were - it seems perfectly obvious that, yes, a man who has killed himself by taking too many pills has committed suicide.

I think this is a poor line of argument. The idea you are advocating, as I understand it, is that, there are possible alternative meanings for the words "suicide" and "at the MCC", and though you don't have any evidence that those alternative definitions exist or are in use, you're willing to offer that possibility as a criticism of what is reported in major news outlets. I agree that news outlets may have gotten confused about possible non-standard definitions of terms like "suicide" or "at the MCC" - but I disagree that we should assume this is the case without any evidence to think so.

You also write that the four circumstances I've presented are "very common". Without knowing how you mean the term "very common" I can't agree with that characterization. I'm also not at all convinced you have any idea how common it is for multiple video cameras on the same subject to fail, for guards to sleep through their rounds, for guards to falsify their records, for multiple neck bones to break during sheet strangling suicides, or for prisoners at the MCC to truly commit suicide. If I'm wrong, and you do know how likely these things are, kindly share a reputable source that explains the likelihood. I'd find that enlightening.


Pay attention to which MCC staff get moved/promoted or die. Someone knows and will 'want more' than they were initially paid. They'll either take a bump up or get bumped off.

thanks for this extensively sourced summary!

Care to elaborate and substantiate your certainty? Doubt is the default stance of the rational and inquisitive mind.

That sort of rests on whether the women were 'trafficked' in any meaningful sense. If they were not then the media lab team were being judgemental and unpleasant even though they did turn out to be right about his character. If they were then everyone involved is potentially at moral fault, irrespective of who was accepting what.

The greater story of this scandal has parts that should never have happened and parts that were fine. Giving money to MIT and visiting with a bevy of attractive women is eccentric - crass even - but not troubling. The scandal isn't Epstein's giving it is that he was running a child prostitution ring.


Why are there inevitably people who want to do the mental gymnastics of assuming innocence for a man convicted of sex trafficking?

I understand assuming innocence the first time someone is accused of anything unsavory because mistakes happen. But once you are convicted, serve jail time and are suspiciously behaving in the same manner...

Who are we serving by assuming innocence?

And let me remind you that in society we have different standards than a court of law. A court of law has to assume innocence, in public we might be doing another human being who is a potential victim great good by expressing concern about the nature their relationship with a known felon & abuser.


I get part of the impulse. The concept that attractive Eastern European women spending their time with a billionaire means that they were trafficked somewhat strips them of agency. Like "you wouldn't do this of your own accord". Maybe they would.

Of course, in this case, the fellow turned out to be a monster. But Sir Richard Branson is on the level AFAIK and he hangs out with attractive women. Presumably they enjoy the company.

EDIT: I can't answer the threads below because I've been timed out for making this comment. Fair enough, but I should clarify: My point is _precisely that_. It's the child prostitution that's the problem. You can just point at the "solicitation of a minor" thing directly. Making it about the attractive Eastern European women is completely unnecessary and only useful to decry the notion that they may choose otherwise than what the MIT folks would choose.


Richard Branson wasn't convicted of child prostitution. At the time of the event quoted by the OP, Epstein had been. For fuck's sake...

There's plenty of actions that, while not illegal, decent people can find distasteful enough to shun people who engage in them. Using your money -- whether directly enough to be considered prostitution, or a little more indirectly -- to surround yourself with women who are 18 years and 10 minutes old is legal but more than a little gross. And extremely gross if they had a choice in the matter roughly equivalent to the Anatole France quote: "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

Richard Branson “hangs out” with 2x-year-old women, not 14-year-old girls. The difference is literally infinite in the legal realm and still enormous in the moral realm.

Mental gymnastics to avoid assuming bad intent without evidence is the only way to avoid becoming a deranged mob. This is a healthy instinct and you damage our ability to have rational discussions by attacking it. Until we get more evidence, and given that there is plenty of actual evidence of wrongdoing in other areas, let's focus our attention there, shall we?

So not taking donations from a felon convicted of sex trafficking and not going to his dinner parties and showing concern for young women from poor countries he keeps around him is being a deranged mob now?

No. I was trying to make a broader point about how we should conduct public discussions. We have a responsibility to about jumping to unwarranted conclusions, and devil's advocates help with that.

Now, making straw men of anyone who dares espouse anything less than full belief in the guilt of the accused, that's definitely a deranged mob kind of thing to do. People assuming the worst about others' motives is the dominant reason we can't have nice things.


That's not what it is about. It is about the story at a certain point of time in the past. Nobody is assuming Epsteins innocence today.

At point in time in the story Epstein had already pled guilty to solicitation of a minor for prostitution as part of a sweetheart plea agreement avoiding sex trafficking charges. This was a well known fact. Noone should have been assuming his innocence then.

> Why are there inevitably people who want to do the mental gymnastics of assuming innocence for a man convicted of sex trafficking?

This is extremely good question that I continue to be unable to find an answer. Much bigger case than Epstein would be that of Donald Trump. Everyone knew he is a six-time bankruptee, posted record $1B (billion) dollar loss with IRS and haven't made any of his many business ventures successful, other than add some to the real estate fortune that his father left him, but nothing too spectacular (growing $400MM to $600MM in two decades, which adjusted for inflation is probably close to zero). Yet the consensus of 2016 was that he is the only man capable of steering forward a budget of the most valuable country on the face of planet Earth. Its boggling my mind, frankly.


> Yet the consensus of 2016 was that he is the only man capable of steering forward a budget of the most valuable country on the face of planet Earth.

To be fair, more people who voted didn't think he was the best choice of a person "capable of ..." than thought he was. He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system and b) his opponent also being historically unpopular, by nature of having been in the public eye on one side of the US political system for 25 years.


> He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system and b) his opponent also being historically unpopular, by nature of having been in the public eye on one side of the US political system for 25 years.

I can certainly agree with b) but a) is not a very useful way of looking at things. if you went back and changed nothing else about the election except making popular vote the win condition, hillary clinton would obviously have won. but this small modification would have totally changed the campaign strategy of every candidate. people who didn't bother voting might have voted. donald trump might have won anyway with a different strategy. we might not even have been choosing between trump and clinton in the first place!

not saying the electoral college is good, just that this isn't a strong argument to the contrary.


I agree that it isn't a useful argument, but it makes it difficult to argue that Trump had a majority of Americans thinking he was competent to run the country.

> He only won thanks to a) a quirk of the American electoral system

What quirk is that? It has a lot of quirks, and I think you mean one in particular but not sure which one.


> Who are we serving by assuming innocence?

Innocent of what? Nobody is accusing Epstein of trying to do anything suspect via the MIT media lab. Anyone who thought he'd be wandering around MIT dragging trafficked women around with him is probably hypersensitive. Or Epstein was outrageously foolish. Either way; the reasonable assumption is that those women were probably not trafficked.

The argument here is "nobody should associate with Epstine" vs. "We can isolate the good and the bad parts of Epstine's actions and keep them somewhat separate". There is no need for someone to resign because they happened to know Epstien in a professional capacity.


> That sort of rests on whether the women were 'trafficked' in any meaningful sense. If they were not then the media lab team were being judgemental and unpleasant even though they did turn out to be right about his character. If they were then everyone involved is potentially at moral fault, irrespective of who was accepting what.

That is an odd position to take. We have the benefit of hindsight. Even if these particular women weren’t being trafficked, the staff’s general suspicions about Epstein were borne out.


Not to be nit picky, I'm genuinely not well versed in "moral fault" and I am interested in learning more. So if they ended up being trafficked, the staff members who tried to figure that out and offered assistance if they were would be at moral fault as well? Could you elaborate a bit on that?

I'm sort of assuming that if they were trafficked the staff members didn't do anything about it; I haven't paid a lot of attention to the story but I don't think it was tip-offs from the MIT lab were important to Epstein's arrest.

Because he had already been convicted before and was (as Swenson learned previously, as you can read in the op cited new-yorker article on the issue) banned from being a MIT donor for this reason. Context matters.

>Sorry, I don't get it. Somebody having assistants who look like models and are from Eastern Europe is suspicious of trafficking women? How? Why?

In that it's extremely common. In the gritty real world, people know of such guys and what they do. Many have personality men such gentlemen and their entourages (of course most not at the level of Epstein, but frequent some circles in Eastern Europe, Russia, Paris, London, Italy, etc, and you'll meet such guys, no doubt in Asia and L. America too), and know what "assistants" who look like models and are from Eastern Europe sum up to...

Of course it won't be as evident to someone in rural Iowa, or growing up in the boy scouts, they'd need to have things spelt out for them...

>Would somebody who is trafficking women really take them everywhere he goes? I thought it would be more of a secret affair.

At such meetings like at MIT usually no.

But shady rich guys with political/drug/mafia/trafficking connections take their women (even underage or barely legal) all around, in restaurants, boats, nightclubs, business deals, parties, etc. And not just criminal/underworld types: this even includes world leaders, like Berlusconi, all kinds of royalty, rich moguls, etc...

In some countries you can't throw a rock in a public event without hitting one such...


Having young girl-friends is not the same as sex trafficking, though, or is it? I thought sex trafficking would be luring girls out of their country with false promises, then burning their passports so that they can't flee.

I wouldn't consider it overly weird if rich guys have young girl-friends. Maybe it is just because Hollywood has groomed me to expect it, I don't know.


>Having young girl-friends is not the same as sex trafficking, though, or is it? I thought sex trafficking would be luring girls out of their country with false promises, then burning their passports so that they can't flee

Well, that pretty much sums up what Epstein did.

You don't even need to burn passports, you can psychologically manipulate, threaten, beat up, hook on drugs, pass to friends, parade your powerful connections (event to the law), explain how they have no alternatives, and so on.

Especially if you're a ultra-rich mogul with personal guards and powerful friends, and they're some teenage girl from some poor eastern european family that you promise money or to get "exposure", and so on...


"psychologically manipulate" - isn't that just a loaded way of saying "convince"? Did he actually do all those other things, beatings, threatening? Or is it such a stereotype that it is just assumed that it must have been this way?

>"psychologically manipulate" - isn't that just a loaded way of saying "convince"?

"(...) The girls he allegedly abused were largely from troubled backgrounds, either in the foster care system, from broken families, or below the poverty line".

-- and as young as 14 year old, at that. Does "convince" really apply?

>Did he actually do all those other things, beatings, threatening?

(...) Multiple women say they attempted to refuse Epstein, but to no avail.

“I was terrified and I was telling him to stop,” said Araoz, recounting one visit during which Epstein raped her.

“If I left Epstein … he could have had me killed or abducted, and I always knew he was capable of that if I did not obey him,” another alleged victim, Virginia Roberts, said during a hearing.


Picking vulnerable girls - OK, manipulative.

14 year olds, too - but those "assistants" presumably were older.

Threats - threats are threats, going beyond "manipulation".


Why are you going out on such limbs and repeatedly defending Epstein and his child sexual abuse in this thread?

I'm struggling to understand your motivations. This should be a clear and obvious case of someone who was really fucked up, did fucked up things, and deserves nobody in polite society defending him.

And yet here we are having this discussion, somehow.


I'm in no way defending Epstein in any way. It is horrifying how many people in this thread seem to be unable to understand that. I hope nobody of you works in the legal system. You have a prejudice, and you can only see what confirms your prejudice, despite nothing of it being there. You think I defend Epstein, but I never did.

I asked a question about a paragraph describing a scene of a guy visiting MIT Media Lab with young assistants (not teens, they were described s young women), and Media lab staff being concerned.

I did not have the context of Epstein already being convicted as a sex offender.

There was nothing in that paragraph about Epstein having sex with teens, and I didn't mention that, either.

I am merely of the opinion that in general, young women from Eastern Europe should also be allowed to work as assistants for old men. That doesn't imply I endorse older men taking advantage of teens.


The context is very relevant though. Epstein already was a known, convicted sex offender by the point he was visiting MIT Media Lab with his young ladies of questionable status in tow. It's not relevant to the matters at hand that you, a random person who wasn't there, was not aware of the context.

You can't remove this question from its context. The people at MIT Media Lab who were worried about it certainly were aware of the context, and they were worried, but ultimately forced to go along with it because their boss wanted the money too badly.

Also, enough with the "just asking questions". Instead of asking lots of questions, just go read the relevant articles and learn the truths directly, rather than requiring people to spoonfeed you through HN comments.


nf8nnfufuu asks questions -- in order to better understand what did actually happen.

Epstein had sex with girls younger than 18. But was is against their will?

Epstein is dead, so he does not care if anybody defends him. But if we want to understand how Epstein operated, we should question the accusations.


While I think in general it is also important to understand how such things work - how young girls are being exploited.

However, here I didn't even talk about his sex exploits. I only asked about a paragraph about perceiving a man with young assistants.


Sure, "convince". Lots of predators convince kids into the abuse through pretty normal persuasive techniques, and the same to keep them quiete. It's not all knife to the throat kind of stuff. In fact, the vast majority of abuse is that soft sell long term grooming "convince" approach.

What persuasive techniques did Epstein use to convince kids into abuse?

There are degrees to this. The burning their passport thing is certainly in the black side, but there are plenty or dark shades of gray before you get there.

I live in Iowa and was an Eagle Scout and can figure out what the point of the anecdote was just fine, thanks.

Yeah, sorry about that. Couldn't you figure out that I was talking about the proverbial Iowa and boy scout (e.g. "not a worldly type"), and not necessarily the actual one?

Yeah maybe it's your description that needs some work and not our interpretation

> "I live in the gritty real world. Now let me tell you about my international experiences with the ultra wealthy, you hick."

How do you tell the difference between the sex-trafficked, forced-into-servitude eastern european model-assistants, and the eastern european models who see an opportunity to make a lot of money and a lot of connections, and take it?


I strongly disagree with the notion that this is something you need to personally witness to recognize. The dynamics involved in an old rich man surrounding himself with very young women are not something that requires much life experience at all to pick up on.

The people who are blind to it are probably willfully blind, not naive. (Excepting young children of course.)


In general, old rich men have no special powers over young women. It seems conceivable that usually, they choose to be around him of their own free will.

Otherwise, please explain what special powers old rich men would have over young women.


>Otherwise, please explain what special powers old rich men would have over young women.

The power that comes from being rich, well connected, parading powerful friends (even judges, politicians, financiers, and so on), aides, bodyguards, the means to have them beaten or killed if you want to, and so on? The power to get them fired from their jobs? The powerful to do "Eyes Wide Shut" level shit to them and them knowing it?

Or you expected some magical power that applies to every old rich person in any situation between them and a young woman?


So you assume every time young women are staying with an old rich man, they have been extorted to do so?

Sorry, that seems extremely unlikely. I find it shocking that you think that way.

Just because somebody is rich also doesn't mean they can simply destroy other people's lives at will.

Btw I have personally witnessed for example young women courting old professors, who certainly didn't have any power to destroy their life. They did have some power to further their career, though.

Expect: yes, I think in most cases it is simply that the young women expect some advantage from the rich guy. Maybe just material things, or maybe just more fun. Maybe they enjoy riding on yachts more than riding on skateboards, or whatever.


Yeah, this all seems strange to think that young women are only coerced into relationships with old men.

I have seen many young women court older men for various reasons.

The term sugar daddy comes to mind.

One can question the basis of such relationships, but I think it's a huge stretch to suggest they always arise out of force or coercion.


When the subject of discussion is a man known to be involved in human trafficking, being so trusting and naive does not a lick of good.

You seem to be repeatedly ignoring the context of Epstein's criminal conviction.


No, this wasn't about Epstein, but about the general claim of rich old men having power over women.

This whole thread is in the context of the actual trafficking and sexual abuse of minors. You can’t get away from that context. No matter how much you try, it’s the place your in here, in this discussion and I think it’s worth taking that into account.

Inadvertently I’m sure, your and some other people’s posts here come across as normalising the outward behaviour of Epstein and people like him. But the behaviour of Epstein in particular is not normalisable. The women concerned about the status of the girls Epstein took with him weren’t faced with ‘a rich guy with some young girls’. They were faced with this rich guy with these young girls, face to face, with all the emotional context of actual direct human interaction.

I can image he a situation in which I meet an older guy with some young girls and it’s all fine. I can also imagine ones where I would be deeply uncomfortable and queasy about the interpersonal dynamics going on.

The women at the lab weren’t in a hypothetical situation, they were in a specific real life situation, and the way it made them feel was clearly very, very uncomfortable to the point of deep distress.

So I can see why you think talking about hypotheticals is all fine and you don’t understand why it upsets people. But a lot of wealthy powerful people have spent a lot of effort trying to normalise, justify, write off and cover for Epstein’s behaviour. Those efforts created a context where Epstein was able, again, to traffic and sexually abuse children. So any direction of the discussion towards a context that even inadvertently appears to be normalising any aspect of his behaviour, well, I’d say this thread at this time on this topic isn’t the time or place.


Critical thinking can extend beyond the ability to find the most efficient API to solve a problem.

I have to assume you meant to reply to someone else in some other thread, because otherwise this is just a massive non-sequitur.

He basically says that one can use critical thinking to "tell the difference" between the two categories, which is hardly a non-sequitur.

Is the critical thinking "Epstein did bad things. Therefore, everything Epstein did was bad"?

Critical thinking can tell you there is a higher chance the women were sex trafficked considering the employer and his immoral proclivities. It can't tell you if they actually were or not.


No, the critical thinking mentioned, is:

1) If a powerful man who has been accused of sex trafficking

2) shows up with two girls less than half his age,

3) who are from eastern europe (while he is an American, not exactly where he'd get girlfriends or assistants),

4) he passes them of like his "assistants",

5) while they look like models,

6) and they make everybody uncomfortable to the point of telling them to signal whether they're there against their will

then critical thinking says he's more probably than not indeed sex trafficking, and there's something really shady in his relationship with the two girls...

Not, "they're surely just his assistants, nothing to see here, why would anybody consider anything else going on without some written testimony, a full confession and perhaps lab evidence?"


This thread is amazing. Epstein could have confessed to personally trafficking children from the former Yugoslavia (an actual thing that Blackwater was involved in, btw), and if he showed up 5 years later with a couple of barely legal Eastern Europeans in tow, there'd be commenters ready to insist you never can tell for sure!

The amazing thing to me is and yet at the time nobody actually did anything. That is why he got away with it for so long, he could repeat the same thing that already got him convicted once with such impunity because everybody was willing to look away when confronted with the specifics.

Each and every one of those people underneath Ito who suspected something might be up had the opportunity to do something about it, including going to the board, and given their suspicions they should have. And yet, nobody did.


My thoughts exactly. My jawing is dropping at the lengths people are going to defend this situation.

What do you think the motivations are behind someone defending a dead pedophile?

His associate who was convicted was indeed from former Yugoslavia

So you say "no", but then explain how critical thinking leads to "then critical thinking says he's more probably than not indeed sex trafficking". How is that different from the statement "Critical thinking can tell you there is a higher chance the women were sex trafficked considering the employer and his immoral proclivities" except putting that higher chance at >50%?

Sorry, but 1) is really the only valid indicator here (and it wasn't mentioned in the story). Otherwise you are denying attractive young women from Eastern Europe the ability to get work in the US.

I reckon it's a comment on your unwillingness to consider the context in this conversation. Epstein was a sex offender who had been convicted of raping children and he comes in flanked by young women, possibly children. Isn't that suspicious?

>How do you tell the difference between the sex-trafficked, forced-into-servitude eastern european model-assistants, and the eastern european models who see an opportunity to make a lot of money and a lot of connections, and take it?

There's not much difference between the two camps, especially if the "models" are just teenage girls from some Eastern European village or pre-adult girls (as low as 14) from broken poor families as he lured in the US, forced into it for the money or lured with promises of exposure, and often given drugs, beaten and passed around to "friends", and not professional models with actual (even if small) careers that saw an opportunity to make more money...

You might not know all this from mere looking, but you can see a lot of dynamics in direct play, especially if you know more stories about the same person...

(Also, I'd paraphrase the "summary" you did, more like "These things might not be obvious to some people without such exposure, but they do happen all the time in certain circles/countries/etc, and many people can tell when such shit goes on". Oh, and it doesn't have to be "ultra wealthy" at the Epstein-level, you can meet lower rent versions of such types at all scales, down to your friendly local scam rich from e.g. real estate, or construction, or political affiliations, or some state-given monopoly, etc).


Some of the things you mention are different from the others (drugs, maybe lies). But overall, in my opinion you are taking away too much agency from the women. It is too easy to blame somebody's actions on "manipulation". That would be a wildcard to accuse anybody of anything you want.

Some of the "women" (including some who testified) were 14 year old at the time, and a majority below 18.

He once jocked for a 17 year old that "she is getting too old for me".

The girls were scouted and selected by a group of trusted aides "from troubled backgrounds, either in the foster care system, from broken families, or below the poverty line"...

Not sure how much 'agency' we should give them.

These are not really women going with some boyfriend or merely a young girl with a much older guy. E.g. I'm OK with Louis CK asking to masturbate, and then doing it when the women said yes (I don't consider their "yes" to be any kind of manipulation, rich or not, powerful or not, they could always say no).


I can't figure out why anybody would think Epstein's previous criminal conviction was irrelevant to the matter of Epstein's reputation.

I'm trying to assume good faith, but it's not easy.


Not everyone works from the same knowledge base. OP could have heard about Epstein in passing, per se, and not known about his extensive criminal history or previous arrest/trial.

I only know about these things from Reddit posters and not much else. There is probably a whole host of information you and I do not know about him; it's important to be aware of your blind spots but also the blind spots of others.


Well in assuming good faith I assume he read the article, which should have cleared up any such misunderstandings...

I've read about the first half, which didn't mention that Epstein was already convicted for sex trafficking by the time he arrived at MIT in that story.

It didn't occur to me that he would be walking around freely doing deals if he had already been convicted.

I didn't have the information that he was let off the hook and there was also no indication I should google for something like that. What search term should I have used?


You read the first half of what exactly? From the subtitle of the article you responded to:

> New documents show that the M.I.T. Media Lab was aware of Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender, and that Epstein directed contributions to the lab far exceeding the amounts M.I.T. has publicly admitted.

What did you think "Epstein’s status as a convicted sex offender" meant? Are you earnestly confused, or are you trying to get a rise out of me?


Sex offender and sex trafficker are in entirely different ballparks.

I read the first half of this: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/07/business/mit-media-lab-je...

That is the original article this while comment thread is attached to. It doesn't mention existing convictions in the first half. I didn't read the article the comment I replied to linked to.

I am not a robot. I can not simply recursively read the whole internet.

I was curious about the supposedly "damning paragraph", not about the whole article. The paragraph was quoted in the comment, so why should I read that article?

What exactly are you implying, anyway? What game do you assume I am playing?


Do everybody else in this discussion a favor and read this article: https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-an-elite-univer...

You already responded to a comment about that article, so you owe it to others, if not yourself, to actually read it.


My interest here was in how people judge other people, not in Epstein's exploits specifically. I don't see what I would gain from reading that article.

I would be interested in what made the Media Lab guy do it.

I suppose many people are confronted with an opportunity for "unethical gains" some time in their lives. Maybe the Media Lab guy simply weighted things in his mind and thought it was worth it, to keep the research going, finance his researchers, or whatever.

I would be interested if it would be wrong in all cases. Like maybe (hopefully) Bill Gates is clean, and via shady Epstein MIT could get clean Gates money. OK or not OK?


> via shady Epstein MIT could get clean Gates money. OK or not OK?

Not okay. Why? To answer, we have to admit that "clean" is a word which carries an unhelpful metaphor here: bacterial contamination.

The problem isn't that the money is in some way contaminated. The problem is that the flow of money establishes a relationship with two effects:

1) Someone who owes or regularly gives you money can influence your decisions.

2) Having someone associate with you gives them social status, especially as a donor to a beneficial institution.

The metaphor for which people should reach for should be drawn from something like the song Molasses to Rum from the musical 1776: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeuaTpH6Ck0

So getting money from Gates via Epstein would still be bad because Epstein has the power to stop that flow of money. Gettin money from Epstein via a federal court order would not be bad because Epstein doesn't have the power to stop that.

--------

> I would be interested in what made the Media Lab guy do it.

I too would be interested in what made led him to do so. Because in order to receive donations, an organization like the media lab generally needs to be able to lean on its brand and its ability to invite companies to sponsor them. So we'll likely see that taking that money was long-term harmful financially to the Media Lab.


> I would be interested in what made the Media Lab guy do it.

Money .


I can see how this happened. Maybe Wikipedia the name next time? Associating with Epstein after 2008-2011 is a red line for me.

literally, 'epstein' would have been enough

I know about Epstein (superficially at least), I wanted to know what was damning about the quoted paragraph. Those are different things.

Yeah, it's not like you're on the Internet where someone who didn't know something, could just google it real quick.

Like what - what should I have googled for? "Why did MIT staff suspect Epstein's assistants to be sex trafficked"?

I was replying to the comment about the "damning paragraph", so I assumed the damning parts would be in the paragraph, not in the back story. Therefore, I didn't see the need to Google.


It’s not a theoretical question as to whether he was trafficking women. He had already been convicted of it! And was charged with it again.

Why was he running around free then? Had he already passed his time in jail?

> Why was he running around free then?

Because Bush-appointed US Attorney Alex Acosta (until recently Trump’s Secretary of Labor) made an illegal plea agreement to let Epstein off the hook and cover up the details of his criminality. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article226577...

Some extremely rich and powerful men were among Epstein’s child-rapist co-conspirators, so there are strong pressures on law enforcement officials to sweep the whole thing under the rug.


Is this man being taken to trial? Or is resignation the only repercussion he'll face?


He mostly served his sentence outside of jail actually

"Would somebody who is trafficking women really take them everywhere he goes?"

The simple answer to this question is: Yes. He did.

And it was precisely the people who didn't take it at face value that allowed him to get away with it for so long.


I haven't looked into his case. What was his method - what did he do, so that the girls couldn't call for help?

I think classically they are made to be illegal (no passport, have perhaps committed crime of prostitution, so they think they can not go to the police). Is that also what Epstein did?


> I haven't looked into his case

Why not? Your initial comment in this discussion was an hour and a half before this one, and was in response to somebody linking to an article containing many of the relevant details.


Because my comment was about the cited paragraph, not about Epstein. I had no reason to assume Epstein was already known as a sex trafficker when he visited MIT. It would be a very weird assumption - why would the head of MIT Media Lab meet with a convicted sex trafficker?

Indeed, why would he? It seems incredulous, and yet he did. That's why he's been forced out of his position.

I have no issues with him being forced out of his position. I have an issue, in this sub sub thread, with people mandating that I should have considered that head of Media Lab would openly meet a convicted sex trafficker.

Fair enough, I guess, and if you'd just said that you'd have been better off. What you said instead showed a complete lack of understanding for how sexual abuse is inflicted on people. By implication that anyone not held directly against their will couldn't be a victim. That power dynamics play a huge part, along with shame, guilt, and sometimes necessity.

"By implication that anyone not held directly against their will couldn't be a victim."

I never said any such thing. I said the opposite thing: that it is possible a young assistant to an old guy is not a victim. That's an important distinction.

I think establishing a rule in society that young women can't work for old men would be wrong.


You seem to think that if people aren't under lock and key, they aren't being coerced. Which rather misses the wider spectrum of coercion. It could, for example, simply be a guilt trip about how poor their family is, how the extra money he was giving them would help. They wouldn't want to make their family starve, would they? Or not. There's no end to the possibilities.

> guilt trip about how poor their family is

Coercion is the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

"guilt trip about how poor their family is" does not qualify as "force or threats".

Watering down term "coercion" makes real coercion less noticeable.


If you are walking around with 2 girls who look like models and are from eastern europe (there must be some impression about being model from eastern europe which I'm unaware of), what do you think people gonna think?

You are reading stuffs. People have seen this. If they were uneasy at this sight, they must have felt/observed something more than that, so much so that they thought that these girls might not have been there by choice.

People do get suspicious of fishy people and if you ask them why they are suspicious of some people, they would say, "he was behaving a bit different, something was off about him". And people like you will dismiss it.

Even in real life, I see people walking around with girls. Most of the times I feel or suspect nothing but sometimes I do feel something is off or fishy about it but yet I can't describe it fully.

Now you know a lot more about Epstein, what do you think why he brought "2 models (possibly quite young, given the reputation of Epstein) who are possibly from eastern europe" in MIT lab?

Now we know a lot more about Epstein, people must have felt something much more about those 2 girls which you can't imagine.

Personally, I feel like you are arguing for the sake of arguing. I was shocked at your line of thinking.


You have to consider that paragraph in the context that Epstein's activities were widely and publicly known at that point.

As far as secrecy, Epstein apparently wasn't very secret at all. Many reports from Virgin Islands where he had a home.


By the time he was in their office, he was a convicted felon for .... solicitation of minors.

If they didn't know he was sketchy why did they go to such lengths to obscure the origin of his donations? If you are rich and you really want to make an anonymous donation (perhaps out of humility, perhaps to avoid solicitations from other worthy causes) you hire a lawyer and direct them to submit the funds on your behalf.

Yes, he would, especially if he thought he had enough leverage to protect himself from the consequences.

I thought it would be more of a secret affair.

The world isn't TV, you might be surprised what people can get away with in plain sight.

When you're supplying these girls to British royalty, politicians at every level, certainly law enforcement of various flavors, and plenty of generic rich people (VC/finance, old money, Donald Trump, etc.), yeah, you might kinda get the idea that you're operating with impunity. Because you are, especially when you have blackmail material on all of them.


Epstein was clearly a pedophile. Even at the time in question, it was already quite clear that he was a pedophile. So that's what's so damning.

Trafficking of young women from the former Soviet Union is a complicated issue. During the collapse, and well into the 90s and mid 00s, many people were desperate. Literally starving, with ~no public services. And many criminals took advantage of that, recruiting young women for work as models, nannies and prostitutes. Plus of course all of the websites for Russian etc brides.

And that's still happening, because many areas are still very poor and chaotic. And Epstein clearly took advantage of that. Along with many other Americans, mostly in less abusive ways.

Generally, people who recruited destitute young women in legitimate ways would have no reason to hide that. Wives, nannies, servants, models, etc. So I guess that Epstein was just trying to maintain a pretense of legitimacy.

Edit: Here's a personal example. Indirectly through family, I knew a young woman who made it to the US in the late 80s. She'd been trained as a restoration artist, and the demand for that collapsed along with the Soviet Union. But once here, she worked for some years as an exotic dancer.


> Epstein was clearly a pedophile. Even at the time in question, it was already quite clear that he was a pedophile.

He wasn't a pedophile, at least from what I've read. Pedophilia specifically refers to an attraction to prepubescent children - Epstein was interested in adolescent girls, which would make him a hebephile. If Epstein was going around with an entourage of 10 year old girls it would've been extremely obvious, and he would've been arrested in about 5 minutes. OTOH it can be legitimately hard to tell the difference between a 14 year old and an 18 year old. People may have heard rumors or had their own suspicions, but they probably weren't sure and that uncertainty made it easy to take the safe route and stay silent...


OK, so is there a huge distinction between prosecutions and judgments for pedophiles and hebephiles?

I haven't followed his case well enough to know the age range for his young friends. But yes, I don't recall that he was grooming ten year olds. But probably 13 year olds, I think.

And yes, it's hard to tell about preteen people. Looking back at old pictures of close friends and myself, the most obvious changes were later, at maybe about 19-20. Mainly a loss of gangliness, I think. Puberty is not uncommon now before ten, so secondary sexual characteristics alone are unreliable indicators.

Way back in the hippie days, when I was about 18-20, I had a few 13-16 year old girlfriends. And I don't recall that they were all that obviously distinguishable by age. But of course, in old pictures, we all look like children.


> So I guess that Epstein was just trying to maintain a pretense of legitimacy.

Or just felt untouchable.


Right. Maybe not surprising, given who some of his friends were. Except that he ended up being not as untouchable as some of his friends.

I guess OP's point is that beautiful women couldn't possibly be anything more than sex trafficked women.

I'm with you. Posters here seem to be making several logical leaps due to hindsight bias. His previous convictions do not imply that he's a human trafficker, and if he was, he almost certainly would not be advertising it in this manner.

Because it's weird for a 60 year old dude to be traveling with unrelated women who are under the age of 18?

Why are you so incredulous that people would assume the worst when the guy had a reputation and the girls looked way too young to be traveling the world with the sleazeball?


Paragraph said nothing about the girls being under 18. It says "young women". Also didn't say anything about his reputation (at the time the story took place).

that is a in fact a big problem with some of the earlier reporting around stories about Epstein. Lots of headlines ran with "young women", but deeper in it explcitly says "as young as 14"

So you made an account 8 days ago just to defend Epstein? Go do your pr somewhere else, that pedo is exactly where he should be.

> Would somebody who is trafficking women really take them everywhere he goes? I thought it would be more of a secret affair.

After everything Epstein has did and got away with, I don't think it's a stretch that he would have been brash about it. Look at how brash Trump is about some of his personal sexual exploits.

I'm not sure the point is these women were trafficked for sure, but Ito was obviously unwilling to overlook a pretty questionable situation for his personal financial gain.

Regardless, he isn't being thrown in jail, he's just losing his position of power because he obviously isn't capable of avoiding conflict of interest.


So because these young ladies were attractive they couldn’t have been there because they were interested in the MIT media lab.

A 60 year old American financier who's uglier than a frog has 2 teenage eastern european models as "assistants"....does that add up to you?

It adds up when you add the fact that he was a billionaire, or at least in the vicinity.

Even young East European models have to work somewhere (at least some of them). (Paragraph called them "young women", not "teens", btw).

Should young women only be allowed to work for poor people, if they are attractive? Or maybe only for other young people? I don't think that would be a good rule.

I don't think it would be enough for an accusation. Of course with the background that Epstein was already known as a sex trafficker, it is a very different matter.


Why two beautiful young women though - that seems not to be likely due to chance and surely enough to make any rational person wonder what they hell is going on?

The thing is to make everyone who you meet a bit complicit. Two young women at the meeting is not quite enough to make anyone at the meeting intervene, but it is enough that there is then a lever - "you were at the october meet, you met Siri and Alexa... you were there weren't you? You are smart, you knew what was going on then and you didn't do a thing. How will that play if that gets out?"

It's not much of a lever, but my suspicion is that there is a slow enmeshment and escalation; a dance of probing and pulling - more intense for the more useful or more dangerous contacts. The aim is to have protection, cover and support. People who say things like "one of your assistant was sobbing in the loo, so I called mental health services" suddenly find that colleagues are talking about how socially inept they are, and how important that they are kept out of certain meetings. People who join in and show approval are regarded as "good" and "fun". Bit by bit it becomes normal. The transgressions shown to "outsiders" are safe - or at least there are explanations and the outsiders are carefully selected to be vulnerable pressure from people in the circle, but each time this happens that tar pit of complicity grows and deepens. Eventually powerful people are looking at personal ruin if the offenders are exposed.


"Why two beautiful young women though - that seems not to be likely due to chance and surely enough to make any rational person wonder what they hell is going on?"

What if a person likes to work with beautiful young women? That's generally part of why people are being called beautiful - because people feel elated in their company.

Let's not pretend that looks don't matter in this world. If you have two equally qualified candidates for a job, perhaps you take the prettier one.

Maybe there is also an effect on meetings. Haven't there been studies on how men behave differently in the presence of attractive women? Maybe it is strategy to bring attractive women to business meetings, to change the dynamics.

Just saying there could be any number of reasons.

Personally I feel it is OK to act according to one's preferences (within bounds of no coercion and so on). If you prefer to be surrounded by attractive women, you should be allowed to act accordingly. I know not everyone agrees. (and please, I am not defending Epstein, I don't think sexual exploitation is OK - I am talking here about the general setting of hiring young assistants).


> "... so I called mental health services" suddenly find that colleagues are talking about how socially inept they are

What is the right behavior then?

Should have Joi Ito recognize that "two beautiful young women" bait and cancelled all potential business with Epstein?


>What is the right behavior then?

To contact mental health/wellbeing officers in your institution, and to be on record as having done it. There will be short term costs, but in the long term the costs of not doing so could be catastrophic.

>Should have Joi Ito recognize that "two beautiful young women" bait and cancelled all potential business with Epstein?

I don't know because I wasn't there and I don't know the circumstances around the meeting. In the hypothetical universe I think that the best case is that people's radars click into action and the folks left in the room say "that was super weird, I don't like this, what the hell are we doing talking to these people, let's stop". In the real world when you're doing something you believe in, you need money for that, and you are under pressure, I can imagine that not happening.

A big problem is that it shouldn't be a single person or a narrow group making these decisions. There should be wide group who met with Epstein and knew what was going on, and in the best case I think that it would be good to get everyone in a room and say "what did we think"? Perhaps also some specific follow up meetings with quieter or more insightful members of the group "what did you think?". One question "ok, does anyone have a red flag here?" would (I think) give me a lot of comfort even if it later turned out that I had made a deal with Stalin - at least I asked, at least I wasn't just a fool.

Process and culture - yet again.


> contact mental health/wellbeing officers

That may terminate the career of donations receiving officer.

In addition to losing that particular donor, other donors may start worrying if they will end up being investigated after attempting to donate.

> it shouldn't be a single person or a narrow group making these decisions

Big bureaucracy is expensive and may consume a significant part of donation money.

> a deal with Stalin

In spite of Stalin being a villain, WW2 deal that UK and the US made with Stalin against Nazy Germany -- was a positive one.


We never should have made that deal, Stalin was actually worse than the whole Nazi regime of murderous scum. At least the Germans had style and before you accuse me of being some kind of 88er, I will remind you that the big shots in the US loved Hitler in the 1930s, the adored what he was doing for Germany because it was so technologically progressive and forward looking.

Plenty of American businesses made money off of the Nazi regime. IBM. The Bush family, and many others. It wasn't until the horrific crimes committed during the war that everyone here quickly distanced themselves from Germany and pretended that they never liked them and were never anti-semitic.

As far as Epstein goes, I don't think we're even asking the right questions. The underage girls, despite being underage, all knew what was going to happen when they went to that island or to meet up with Epstein or his compatriots. What is more important is, how did the blackmail operation run and who received the photos and videos?


The keywords in my sentence was "american" and "eastern european"

EE is known for sex trafficking young beautiful women and mainly in Europe. That an American has his hands on them is even stranger.


Why are we judging people by their looks? Is that what the righteous thought-leaders of Y Combinator and Hacker News do?

Why are young women who look like "models" not credible at MIT Media Lab?


The keywords in my sentence was "american" and "eastern european"

EE is known for sex trafficking young beautiful women and mainly in Europe. That an American has his hands on them is even stranger.


I don't disagree that something didn't appear right here. However, the folks here at Hacker News are only judging these women by their appearance and nothing else.

It's not good when an attractive young person visiting MIT is viewed with suspicion because of some prejudice against attractive individuals and youth.


Ah I see now. Yes.

On the day they met, Epstein wasn't a fugitive. He was exonerated. Due diligence showed that Epstein went through the legal process and came out the other end intact. Epstein remained a powerful, rich, influential who clearly established himself as among the highest class of political elites. Refusing Epstein's money would have hurt the lab's reputation among his people. Accepting the money was far less costly.

Turns out,...not so much.

>We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.”

Oh I'm sure that happened! /s

It is worth noting that this person not only resigned in part because of the ties to Epstein (according to her) but also knew about said ties before she took the job.

Why is it hard to simply tell everything as it happened without trying to embellish one's picture in vain?


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