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.
L. Rafael Reif
"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 .
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?
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?
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"?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Perhaps literally no one partying with the (confessed, convicted) pedophile and his suddenly definitely-consenting-and-of-legal-age entourage was innocent.
* 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
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.
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.
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.
Please don’t be so dense.
How do you explain his experiencing and concluding this and repeat by asking Epstein for another conference?
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)
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:
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.
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.
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.
This assumes TheVerge correctly interprets the incomplete unsealed records.
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?
Why are they not alleging what ?
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.
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
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:
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 :
"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?
>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.
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.
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.
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'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.
But among the powerful, "friend" often means "someone who is useful to know" and "gifts" usually have a self-serving motive.
PS: Morocco, not the USofA.
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?
(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.
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!
Pinker being close to Dershowitz is a red flag to me.
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 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.
Helping someone prepare a legal defense is not a crime.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don't have a link handy but the Minsky connection was definitely discussed here.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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).
It doesn't seem like any of the journalists even asked. That sounds like a very interesting story in and of itself.
I assume this is so they can hit you up for money right after you sell a bunch of stock? Clever.
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/
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:
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...
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.
Accepting millions from him in 2002 would be unremarkable.
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.
Your hypothetical example is pretty thoroughly unrelated to the case here.
There are red lines beyond which a person should be considered socially radioactive and ostracized.
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.
> 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.
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.
None of it is exculpatory, mind you.
Obviously Epstein was not, and MIT didn't want to take the risk, correctly.
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.
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.
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?
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...
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:
also some of my other shorter comments here:
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.
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?
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 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.
Excuse me, but noting something, is not the same as applauding it.
> 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.
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".
FTFY. An adult can’t “have sex” with a pre-teen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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 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.
† 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.
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'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.
* 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.
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.
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.
Is it prostitution? Sexual slavery?
Why do you use such an unclear term in a discussion?
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.
> We literally had a conversation about how, on the off chance that they’re not there by choice, we could maybe help them.
The stories that these girls told suggest that they were free to leave.
2) Is "forced suicide" a fair punishment for pimps?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Though it seems more pragmatic than a moral right.
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
The other parable is the one of Write Two Letters.
* Clearly, Ito was very much at fault in this instance. The coverup!
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. 
* Multiple video cameras malfunctioned outside Epstein's cell coincident with his death. 
* 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. 
* 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 .
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  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.
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 .
Do you know what they're counting and how they count it? How do they define "suicide" and "at the MCC"?
This news source  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...
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What quirk is that? It has a lot of quirks, and I think you mean one in particular but not sure which one.
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 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.
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...
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.
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...
"(...) 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.
14 year olds, too - but those "assistants" presumably were older.
Threats - threats are threats, going beyond "manipulation".
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 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.
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.
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.
However, here I didn't even talk about his sex exploits. I only asked about a paragraph about perceiving a man with young assistants.
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?
The people who are blind to it are probably willfully blind, not naive. (Excepting young children of course.)
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?
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.
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.
You seem to be repeatedly ignoring the context of Epstein's criminal conviction.
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 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.
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?"
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.
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).
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'm trying to assume good faith, but it's not easy.
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.
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?
> 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?
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?
You already responded to a comment about that article, so you owe it to others, if not yourself, to actually read it.
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?
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 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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
As far as secrecy, Epstein apparently wasn't very secret at all. Many reports from Virgin Islands where he had a home.
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.
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.
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...
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.
Or just felt untouchable.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
What is the right behavior then?
Should have Joi Ito recognize that "two beautiful young women" bait and cancelled all potential business with Epstein?
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.
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.
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?
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 young women who look like "models" not credible at MIT Media Lab?
It's not good when an attractive young person visiting MIT is viewed with suspicion because of some prejudice against attractive individuals and youth.
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?