Another Week, Another Epstein-Atheism Connection

From here:

While MIT engages in damage control following revelations the university’s Media Lab accepted millions of dollars in funding from Jeffrey Epstein, a renowned computer scientist at the university has fanned the flames by apparently going out of his way to defend the accused sex trafficker—and child pornography in general.

Richard Stallman has been hailed as one of the most influential computer scientists around today and honored with a slew of awards and honorary doctorates, but his eminence in the academic computer science community came into question Friday afternoon when purportedly leaked email excerpts showed him suggesting one of Epstein’s alleged victims was “entirely willing.”

What’s interesting is how this Epstein apologist was so obsessed with the topic of sex and pedophilia:

A deep dive into his writings shows this isn’t the first time Stallman has expressed such questionable views, however. He has written dozens of posts on his personal website in favor of legalizing pedophilia and child pornography for more than 15 years.

Stallman commented on the news of Epstein at length on his personal site. In April of this year, the programmer wrote of one story, “I disagree with some of what the article says about Epstein. Epstein is not, apparently, a pedophile, since the people he raped seem to have all been postpuberal.”

At some point, his arguments then begin to remind me of Richard Dawkins trying to defend “mild pedophilia” a few years back:

Stallman was apparently also quite open about his ideas not only on age of consent laws, but also pedophilia. In 2006, he wrote, “I am skeptical of the claim that voluntarily pedophilia harms children. The arguments that it causes harm seem to be based on cases which aren’t voluntary, which are then stretched by parents who are horrified by the idea that their little baby is maturing.”

In 2006, he said it wouldn’t so bad for an adult man who worked for the Department of Homeland Security to have sex with a 14-year-old, as one government employee had allegedly propositioned: “Supposing she had voluntarily had sex with him, presuming that they used a condom and suitable contraception, it would have done no harm to either of them.”

He reiterated his point in 2013: “There is little evidence to justify the widespread assumption that willing participation in pedophilia hurts children.”

To his credit, he is up front about the slippery slope aspect that is inherent in these demands for yet more sexual permissiveness:

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PedoFish

So I saw one of these in a parking lot yesterday:

And it immediately made me think of Jeffrey Epstein. Why?

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Another Epstein – Atheism Connection

Name – Al Seckel. He was a con man who fooled the skeptic/scientific community into thinking he was both a physicist and neuroscientist when he was neither. And it turns out the guy moved freely among the “intellectual elite,” was connected up with pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, and was involved in the early atheist movement.

We’ll let Wikipedia articles do most of the work today.

Connections of Epstein:

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Social Justice Atheists are Outraged Again

Time for more red-faced outrage from the social justice atheists.  Activist Hemant Mehta says:

Last week, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees filmed a relatively innocuous commercial for a religious organization urging kids to bring their bibles to school. The commercial was even more boring than that description. And had that been the whole story, even the sports world wouldn’t have paid much attention. Football players who celebrate Christianity are a dime a dozen.

So what has the social justice atheists in a froth?

The problem is the group sponsoring the Bible event: Focus on the Family.

Oh, oh.

Drew Brees didn’t just film a commercial urging kids to bring their bibles to school. He filmed an ad for one of the most vehemently anti-LGBTQ organizations in the country. One that believes transgender people are just lying to themselves, one that promotes gay conversion torture, and one that actively opposes LGBTQ rights.

Huh? They believe transgender people are just lying to themselves? How is that any different from the way atheist groups, for years, have believed Christians are just lying to themselves? Beieve in God and believe He hears your prayers? You are just lying to yourself.

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Steven Pinker and Jeffrey Epstein

When the photo of Steven Pinker and his fellow atheists riding on Jeffrey Epstein’s private plane surfaced, Pinker responded on Twitter on July 10,2019:

I have no relationship with Epstein & have taken no funding from him. Our circles have occasionally overlapped: In 02, my lit agent invited me to join a group of east-coast TED speakers Epstein flew to CA. In 14, Krauss seated me next to him at a lunch, & someone snapped a photo.

Here Pinker makes it sound likes he doesn’t know Epstein and there were just a couple of times he bumped into him.

But then a couple of days later, Pinker tells a different story:

I’m happy to share my encounters with Epstein.
The annoying irony is that I could never stand the guy, never took research funding from him, and always tried to keep my distance. Friends and colleagues described him to me as a quantitative genius and a scientific sophisticate, and they invited me to salons and coffee klatches at which he held court. But I found him to be a kibitzer and a dilettante — he would abruptly change the subject ADD style, dismiss an observation with an adolescent wisecrack, and privilege his own intuitions over systematic data. I think the dislike was mutual—according to a friend, he “voted me off the island,” presumably because he was sick of me trying to keep the conversation on track and correcting him when he shot off his mouth on topics he knew nothing about. But Epstein had insinuated himself with so many people I intersected with (Alan Dershowitz, Martin Nowak, John Brockman, Steve Kosslyn, Lawrence Krauss) and so many institutions he helped fund (Harvard’s Program in Evolutionary Dynamics, ASU’s Origins Project, even Harvard Hillel) that I often ended up at the same place with him. (Most of these gatherings were prior to the revelation of his sex crimes, such as the 2002 plane trip to TED with Dawkins, Dennett, the Brockmans, and others, but Krauss’s Origins Project Meeting came after he served his sentence.) Since I was often the most recognizable person in the room, someone would snap a picture; some of them resurfaced this past week, circulated by people who disagree with me on various topics and apparently believe that the photos are effective arguments.

Notice how the “no relationship” and “our circles have occasionally overlapped” have become enough familiarity with the guy where he forms a distinct, negative impression.
Occasionally overlapped is now, “Friends and colleagues described him to me as a quantitative genius and a scientific sophisticate, and they invited me to salons and coffee klatches at which he held court.”

According to this article, there’s a bit more to it:

Epstein was a dilettante, and easily distracted. But he pulled so many prominent thinkers into his social circle, using the promise of his money to create “some kind of a mini university of thought,” that in Pivar’s view he did “amazing, incredible, amazing, remarkable things for science.” There were lavish dinner parties with the likes of Steven Pinker and Stephen Jay Gould during which Epstein would ask provocatively elementary questions like “What is gravity?” If the conversation drifted beyond his interests, Epstein was known to interrupt, “What does that got to do with pussy?!”

So “occasionally overlapped” has changed into attending many salons, coffee klatches, and dinner parties where Epstein was prominantly featured.

As for “no relationship”?

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Professor Wants to Kill Christians

I knew anti-Christian bigotry was fairly common in academia, but this is a bit extreme:

Jeff Klinzman, an adjunct English professor at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, had posted on a Facebook page named “Iowa Antifa.” He commented “Yeah, I know who I’d clock with a bat …” in response to a tweet from President Trump describing antifa as “Radical Left Wack Jobs who go around hitting … people over the heads with baseball bats.”

He also wrote that he wanted to “stop evangelical Christians” and posted a poem that said, “Kill them all and bury them deep in the ground.” Klinzman explained why he shared the poem, “It’s not pretty, and I’m not proud, but seeing what evangelical Christians are doing to this county and its people fills me with rage, and a desire to exact revenge.”

When contacted by Cedar Rapids ABC affiliate KCRG, Klinzman said he was part of the group, “I affirm that I am antifa.”

Just as many of us warned, “punch a Nazi” has easily morphed into “kill a Christian.” Klinzman’s wild-eyed radicalism has naturally led him to embrace an “ends justify the means” logic that entails bloodshed.

Killing for Social Justice!

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The PZ Myers/Epstein Connection

In a previous posting, we saw a group picture of John Brockman with atheists Dawkins, Dennett, and Pinker aboard Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet. They were flying to a conference where Dawkins would give birth to the New Atheist movement with a militant, anti-religious speech.

In turns out that Brockman, who is an atheist, was closely connected to Epstein and was his “intellectual enabler.” I enourage you to read this article to see just how important Brockman was to Epstein. In fact, for some time, I long wondered what the “Edge” was all about, for it came across as a place for New Atheists and their allies to mainstream their radicalism. As it turns out, the Edge Foundation was formed and run by Brockman. And…

A close analysis of Edge Foundation’s (publicly available) financial statements suggests that, between 2001 and 2015, it has received $638,000 from Epstein’s various foundations. In many of those years, Epstein was Edge’s sole donor. Yet, how many of Edge’s contributors—let alone readers—knew Epstein played so large a role in the organization?

Recalling that New Atheism itself was a response to 911, it is curious to see Epstein so seriously funding the Foundation concurrent with the rise of New Atheism.

Anyway, along comes PZ Myers. He admits his relationship with Brockman:

I was tangentially involved with another character who was the recipient of Epstein’s beneficence. John Brockman was my agent, too. I published in a few of his annual question books, he got me a good advance on The Happy Atheist, I met him a few times in his office, he was always professional and cordial.

Whoa! That’s news to me. Given that PZ had never authored a book, how did he get such a high profile agent like Brockman? Was a third party involved? PZ doesn’t say. He even got a “good advance.” How much? He doesn’t say. He even visited Brockman’s office several times. He was involved in Brockman’s “annual question books.” Sounds like PZ had a fairly deep connecton with Brockman at the time.

Oh, but there is more. If you’ll remember, back on those days PZ Myers posted for ScienceBlogs, a project of Seed Magazine. Well, as it turns out, thanks to PZ’s old enemy getting a little too chatty with a reporter, we learn some more news:

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Misdirection

Over at his blog, PZ Myers posted about “The J-F Gariépy/Epstein connection.”  Myers writes:

One among the long list of “scientists” sponsored by Jeffrey Epstein was, to my initial surprise, Jean-François Gariépy, but then after I thought about it, I realized they were perfect for each other. If you’re unfamiliar with JF, as he’s called, his RationalWiki page is informative. He’s one of those alt-right YouTubers with an extraordinarily creepy history — he’s a Jew-baiting advocate for a white ethnostate, and he has a thing for sexual relationships with young women with severe intellectual disabilities. He’s just a terrible, horrible person all around.

But he also has some science credentials — he was a post-doc in a neuroscience lab.

Sounds like he has more credientials than Sam Harris, who never did a post-doc.  Anyway, back to Gariépy.  Myers points out that Gariépy took funding from Epstein to make a series of YouTube videos, further implying Epstein as a significant force behind New Atheism.

Myers then notes that Gariépy wrote a book, described as follows:

The Revolutionary Phenotype is a science book that brings us four billion years into the past, when the first living molecules showed up on Planet Earth. Unlike what was previously thought, we learn that DNA-based life did not emerge from random events in a primordial soup. Indeed, the first molecules of DNA were fabricated by a previous life form. By describing the fascinating events referred to as Phenotypic Revolutions, this book provides a dire warning to humanity: if humans continue to play with their own genes, we will be the next life form to fall to our own creation.

And then tries to connect creepy Gariépy to Intelligent Design:

It’s an interesting combination. He’s clearly endorsing some kind of Intelligent Design, so maybe the Discovery Institute would like to take him on as a Fellow. He sounds exactly like their kind of guy.

Of course, we’re dealing with PZ think here.  Y’know, the type of thinking that relies on straw men to make scape goats.  Surprisingly, he let a reader make a comment that completely discredits this attempt to pin the blame on the Discovery Institute:

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Jeffrey Epstein and New Atheism

Check out this photograph:

What do these four men all have in common?  They are all atheists.  It is well known that Pinker, Dennett, and Dawkins are New Atheists.  As for Brockman, he is a literary agent and friend of Dawkins who is described as follows:

For instance, he would never call himself an atheist, he says, in America: “I mean I don’t believe: I’m sure there’s no God. I’m sure there’s no afterlife. But don’t call me an atheist. It’s like a losers’ club. When I hear the word atheist, I think of some crummy motel where they’re having a function and these people have nowhere else to go. That’s what it means in America. In the UK it’s very different.”

More on Brockman later.

So we have four hardcore atheists.  The year?  It was 2002.  Two years before Sam Harris published his first book and four years before Dawkins published his anti-religion book.

Yet these men are all flying to a TED conference.  And how so?  On Jeffrey Epstein’s private jet.  Yes, pedophile, atheist, and sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein flew Dawkins and others to a TED conference in 2002.

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Jeffrey Epstein’s Determinism

When I get some time, I’d like to take a closer look at pedophile/sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein and New Atheism.  But for the time being, I’ll just briefly point to some relevant articles.  Let’s start with  this article:

Many contributions to Edge were plausibly the products of genuinely special minds. Epstein’s were not. In 2008, the year he went to jail for prostitution, the prompt was “What have you changed your mind about?” Epstein replied, “The question presupposes a well defined ‘you’ and an implied ability that is under ‘your’ control to change your ‘mind.’ The ‘you’ I now believe is distributed amongst others (family friends, in hierarchal structures), i.e. suicide bombers, believe their sacrifice is for the other parts of their ‘you.’ The question carries with it an intention that I believe is out of one’s control. My mind changed as a result of its interaction with its environment. Why? Because it is a part of it.”

It sure looks like Epstein was an atheistic determinist.  If you’ll recall, determinist Jerry Coyne likes to insist that determinism means we are not morally responsible for our actions.  And I suppose there is a connection between atheism, determinism, and a disbelief in moral responsibility.  After all, it is quite common for those three to be linked.

But at this point, rely on your “street smarts” and ask yourself, “What type of person does not want to be held morally responsible for their actions?”

Answer – someone like Jeffrey Epstein.

 

Posted in atheism, free will, New Atheism | Tagged , , | 12 Comments