Atheists Stand By Jeffrey Epstein

From here:

At least two grant recipients in academia are standing by Epstein, saying he remains a friend: Krauss and Robert Trivers, a Rutgers University biologist. Trivers said Epstein is a person of integrity who should be given credit for serving time in prison and for settling civil lawsuits brought by women who said they were abused.

[…]

Trivers also said he believes girls mature earlier than in the past. “By the time they’re 14 or 15, they’re like grown women were 60 years ago, so I don’t see these acts as so heinous,” he said.

As for Krauss, who can forget his attempt to sheild Epstein:

As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.

When you pause to actually consider the content of these two statements, you have to ask yourself why in the world as these men considered to be so smart?  Truly intelligent men would not make such truly stupid comments.  So what gives?

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31 Responses to Atheists Stand By Jeffrey Epstein

  1. nsr says:

    I’ve long suspected that lowering the age of consent will be one of the next steps in the atheist sexual revolution, so the comment from Trivers there doesn’t come as a surprise.

  2. Dhay says:

    > Trivers also said he believes girls mature earlier than in the past. “By the time they’re 14 or 15, they’re like grown women were 60 years ago, so I don’t see these acts as so heinous,” he said.

    I cringe.

    Steven Pinker at least says ** :

    Since some of the social-media snark insinuates that I downplay sexual exploitation, it may be worth adding that I have a paper trail of abhorrence of violence against women …

    Whereas Robert Trivers seems to say those sexually exploited brought it on themselves — yeah, blame the victims — for being so physically well-developed compared to past schoolgirls.

    *

    ( ** Though Pinker then goes on at great length to explain that it’s rape, sexual assault and domestic violence that he has a record of opposing, so it’s actually a non-denial that he downplays Jeffrey Epstein style sexual exploitation of schoolgirls.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/tarring-steve-pinker-and-others-with-jeffrey-epstein/)

  3. Dhay says:

    Or I could re-phrase it as: in his e-mail to Jerry Coyne, Steven Pinker makes plain that he does oppose sexual violence against women; while insinuating that he doesn’t downplay sexual exploitation.

    I hope that Pinker’s failure to answer the actual social-media allegations (“snark”) that he downplays sexual exploitation was an oversight rather than a lawyerly evasion.

  4. Dhay says:

    I am amused by the Tweet, reply and photograph reproduced in Jerry Coynes’ comments:

    The first of these Epstein plane passengers to publicly support Epstein’s victims will earn, from me, a copy of each of the books the others have written on morality. [Photo.]

    Daniel Dennett: In 2002 I was offered a ride to TED in the plane of a wealthy science philanthropist of whom I had never heard. I accepted. I am not clairvoyant. For all I know I may also have shaken hands with an embezzler or a drug smuggler somewhere. Of course I support Epstein’s victims.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/tarring-steve-pinker-and-others-with-jeffrey-epstein/#comment-1750111

    I am quite happy to accept that hitching a free lift to a TED conference is by no means the same thing as doing or supporting sexual exploitation.

    Er, can anyone identify the woman photographed sitting on Dennett’s knee with Dennett’s arm around her waist — she is his wife, isn’t she? If not, there’s another message about New Atheist attitudes towards women.

  5. Dhay says:

    I am puzzled by New Atheist and linguist Steven Pinker’s involvement in Jeffrey Epstein’s first trial. A recent article quotes of Pinker:

    But it’s the favor that Pinker did for Epstein that’s caused him the most trouble of late: in 2007, Epstein’s attorneys — including Harvard legal scholar Alan Dershowitz — submitted a letter to federal prosecutors arguing that their client hadn’t violated a law against using the internet to lure minors across state lines for sexual abuse.

    “To confirm our view of the ‘plain meaning’ of the words, we asked” Pinker, “a noted linguist, to analyze the statute to determine the natural and linguistically logical reading or readings of the section,” the letter said. “We asked whether the statute contemplates necessarily that the means of communication must be the vehicle through which the persuading or enticing directly occurs. According to Dr. Pinker, that is the sole rational reading.”

    It’s impossible to know how much that analysis helped Epstein land his deal, if at all. But it clearly didn’t hurt him.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2019/07/17/now-inside-higher-education-has-a-hit-piece-on-pinker/

    What puzzles me, British and familiar with how British statutes are written — in “legalese”, a contorted English used only for writing legislation, used because legislation written in it has a precise meaning, one meaning only, no others, a single unambiguous meaning which cannot possibly be misinterpreted by trained lawyers — though the English is so contorted and un-natural that the layperson often has great trouble getting their head around it — what puzzles me is the claim implicit in that middle paragraph that US legislation is written in ambiguous natural English. Is it?

    In Britain it is the lawyers (and when there is contention, the Judge) who decide the meaning of legislation. They are the experts on the meaning of the language used in legislation, and to call in a professor of English or of Linguistics “to determine the natural and linguistically logical reading or readings of [legislation]” would be unheard of, the professor or his letter would get short shrift.

    My incredulous question is, is this scenario where a Linguistics professor, Pinker, apparently schools a judge in the law — is it plausible?!

  6. Ilíon says:

    Though Pinker then goes on at great length to explain that it’s rape, sexual assault and domestic violence that he has a record of opposing, so it’s actually a non-denial that he downplays Jeffrey Epstein style sexual exploitation of schoolgirls.

    Someone who advocates *murdering* inconvenient infant girls isn’t *really* going to be opposed to the sexual exploitation of schoolgirls.

  7. Dhay says:

    Ilíon > Someone who advocates *murdering* inconvenient infant girls …

    I found this 2009 critique of Steven Pinker’s attitude on what he calls ‘neonaticide’, better known as ‘infanticide’ — “perhaps the editors at the New York Times Magazine suggested something a little more obscure and delicate” says my long and interesting linked article, which critiques at length Pinker’s claims and dodgy evidences; the summing up includes:

    Pinker unwittingly reminds those of his readers who need such reminders just how slippery the slope is between abortion and infanticide.

    https://www.equip.org/article/steven-pinkers-evolutionary-explanation-of-infanticide/

    It’s too long to quote or sum up succinctly, so read it yourself if you are interested.

    Ilíon > … isn’t *really* going to be opposed to the sexual exploitation of schoolgirls.

    Callousness reinforces callousness. I can readily believe from what I see of his writings and his critics that he might well consider the sexual exploitation of schoolgirls to be understandable and acceptable, to be justified by evolutionary psychology as what men evolved to do, it’s how a man best spreads his genes.

  8. Dhay says:

    > Trivers said Epstein is a person of integrity who should be given credit for serving time in prison and for settling civil lawsuits brought by women who said they were abused.

    If Trivers means this (and did the reporter paraphrase him correctly) to be of the common form, “X is a person of integrity who [reasons why X is a person of integrity]”, Trivers fails: serving time in prison demonstrates not integrity but Epstein pleaded guilty for crimes a person of integrity would not have committed – what next, a Mafia boss is a person of integrity?; settling civil lawsuits is a reputational and fiscal damage limitation exercise, not a demonstration of integrity; and now there are further (alleged, so far) crimes which Epstein did not show integrity in owning up to and serving prison time for, and presumably further civil lawsuits which Epstein did not settle.

    On the other hand, if what Trivers said is of the form, “X is a person of integrity who also …”, his claim that Epstein is a person of integrity is entirely unsupported by Trivers. One wonders what might support so confident a judgment: was it that Epstein promised a large grant to Trivers’ institution and didn’t renege on the promise, ie he’s not a person of demonstrated lack of integrity regarding grants which advertise his name and enhance his public image?; or does Trivers have extensive close personal knowledge of Epstein and his behaviour?

    Note that “said they were abused” – that snide “said”: Epstein pleaded guilty to multiple charges ** , so the women named as the “abused” in those successful criminal charges should have had no difficulty in getting a civil settlement – and if Epstein and his lawyers hadn’t settled voluntarily (on his terms and conditions) a court would have imposed a settlement with probably greater reputational and fiscal damage to Epstein. Or if some of these women who “said” they were abused (but by Trivers’ implication or insinuation weren’t) had sued without an evidenced case in hope of a quick settlement, the courts or Epstein’s expensively competent lawyers will have rejected any spurious claims unsettled. “Said” – read ‘merely said’, read ‘lied’ – and “settled lawsuit” probably don’t go together.

    *

    ** In a 2011 SkepChick thread Lawrence Krauss (commenting as ‘lmk2011’ on a post he was criticised in) wrote:

    I condemn the acts that have been described in the media, but I don’t believe Jeffrey did them, and I have personally had no compelling evidence to the contrary, and lots of reason to be suspicious of what I have read. Moreover, for those who are confused, there was no trial, no evidence presented at a trial, no jury decision. So I am not pitting myself against a court of law. There was a plea bargain, for a host of reasons that people can speculate about. One could also speculate that the prosecution would not have considered a plea bargain had they had a compelling case, but I am not making that assumption.
    [My emboldening.]

    https://skepchick.org/2011/04/lawrence-krauss-defends-a-sex-offender-embarrasses-scientists-everywhere/#comment-121928

    Um, you don’t need ‘a trial, evidence presented at a trial, a jury decision’ when someone pleads guilty as charged. Nor do you get to claim someone is not guilty, on the grounds that no jury found them guilty, when a jury wasn’t needed because they admitted guilt by pleading guilty.

    Yes, Krauss was (and so far as I know still is) pitting himself against a court of law.

    *

    > At least two grant recipients in academia are standing by Epstein, saying he remains a friend: …

    Rebecca Watson recently posted on Epstein’s supporters in academia in SkepChick, including:

    In 2006, around the time that the first of Epstein’s many accusers was going public, 21 physicists [link provided] flew to his private island to hang out. They included …

    It’s insane to me that we have a man who was convicted of raping a minor and who has likely done much, much worse, and all of the scientists he gave money to are either quiet about it or vociferously defending him. I’ve yet to find a single comment from any of the scientists he’s wined and dined saying so much as “Hey, it’s wrong to set up an international child sex ring.” And that’s completely fucked up.

    https://skepchick.org/2019/07/lawrence-krauss-jeffrey-epstein-and-firing-your-heroes-into-the-sun/

    That’s all of the scientists, those 21 on the list and others like Trivers who are not on the list. That “At least two” looks very conservative.

  9. Isaac says:

    Pinker was one of those calling for Francis Collins to be removed from leadership of the National Institutes of Health on account of Collins being a Christian. Guess which accomplished scientist has, shockingly, never accidentally hitched a ride on Epstein’s plane?

  10. Dhay says:

    Dhay > My incredulous question is, is this scenario where a Linguistics professor, Pinker, apparently schools a judge in the law — is it plausible?!

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/07/15/atheists-stand-by-jeffrey-epstein/#comment-32537

    Where is UpstateIslandersFan when you want him?

  11. Dhay says:

    > As for Krauss, who can forget his attempt to sheild Epstein: “As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.

    Lawrence Krauss is not perhaps someone to give credence to when Jerry Coyne can recently tell his readers (my emboldening throughout the quotes):

    … over a year ago I publicly disassociated myself from Krauss after my own investigations revealed instances of Kraussian sexual predation beyond those revealed by the media.

    https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2019/07/14/if-pinker-is-bad-i-must-be-worse/

    Over a year ago Coyne found (an extra) three instances of sexual predation by Krauss:

    I did some digging on my own, and came up with three cases that have convinced me that Krauss engaged in sexual predation of both a physical nature (groping) and of a verbal nature (offensive and harassing comments). The allegations that convinced me are not public, but the accusers are sufficiently credible that I believe their claims to be true. Further, these claims buttress the general allegation of sexual misbehavior made in BuzzFeed. In my view, then, Krauss had a propensity to engage in sexual misconduct.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2018/03/10/jerry-coyne-officially-disassociates-himself-from-lawrence-krauss/

    Would you accept assurances that Jeffrey Epstein is probably not a sexual predator and probably had no propensity to engage in sexual misconduct … from Krauss?

  12. Midnight Patriot says:

    I’m not sure why (or whether) you think this attitude to sexual exploitation is reflective of atheists in general. It’s a problem we also find among the religious.

  13. Dhay says:

    Midnight Patriot > I’m not sure why (or whether) you think this attitude to sexual exploitation is reflective of atheists in general. It’s a problem we also find among the religious.

    You are quick to jump to conclusions. The text of the OP makes clear that it refers to the two men quoted, namely Robert Trivers and Lawrence Krauss.

    I have no knowledge myself — I have been the principal responder in this thread so far — of whether or nor Trivers is an atheist (though I find Trivers wrote the foreword for an early Richard Dawkins book, and Trivers has recently written a blurb for one of Trivers’, so it might well be so) I went after the two men based upon what they said, their quotations, and the attitudes revealed.

    I interpret Michael’s (the OP writer) bottom line of “When you pause to actually consider the content of these two statements, you have to ask yourself why in the world as these men considered to be so smart? Truly intelligent men would not make such truly stupid comments. So what gives?” as a sideways comment upon the supposedly enlightened supposedly Enlightenment values the New Atheist superstars profess, which contrasts somewhat with the misogyny shown by some of them, by the management of the conferences (etc) they appear as superstars at, and by some of those who attend such apparently male-dominated and laddish conferences. And as a sideways comment upon the idea that ‘Science and Reason’ could reasonably be expected to produce such quotes. Shadow to Light thrives upon the stupidities of New Atheist superstars.

    The thrust of this blog has from the start been against the anti-religious New Atheists rather than atheists in general, so although you’ll occasionally find a response here which tars all alike with the same brush, Michael (and I) have no particular beef against atheists, it’s a philosophical position an intelligent person can arrive at.

    (More recently S2L has criticised the excesses of some SJWs.)

    Paedophilia and other sexual exploitation is a problem that’s found everywhere, sadly, and is to be opposed wherever found.

  14. Dhay says:

    Correction: “… Trivers has recently written a blurb for one of Pinker’s …”

  15. Ilíon says:

    Moveover: The assertion that “It’s a problem we also find among the religious” is false.

  16. nsr says:

    It’s almost as if all human beings share a common tendency towards selfish, indulgent behaviour regardless of their philosophical or theological position.

  17. TFBW says:

    You might say that selfish, indulgent behaviour is part of human nature. Think of it as the Selfish Indulgent Nature, or SIN.

  18. John Smith says:

    I would cite Steve Pinker as one of my influences from de-converting from atheism. In “The Blank Slate” he brushes off the idea of life beginning at conception as being overly simplistic. His utilitarian based ethics has determined that it is too inconvenient to consider a fetus as anything important. Women need abortion as a form of birth control and scientists need fetal remains to medical perform experiments on, so both benefit. Its a win-win situation, except for the child being aborted, which doesn’t matter. A fetus cannot get in way of human desires and progress, so He/she must die. It pretty much confirmed what I always suspected. Abortion is ultimately a very selfish act and Stephen Pinker made it very clear for me.

    Now he is flirting with full blown infanticide…. I am not surprised.

  19. TFBW says:

    Utilitarian ethics are subject to changing environmental ideas of usefulness in the same way that Darwinian Natural Selection is subject to changing environmental conditions of “fitness”. It cannot be either pro- or anti-infanticide in principle, as it depends on what is perceived as the greater good under the circumstances at the time.

  20. unclesporkums says:

    Breaking news: Now Epstein is dead. Whether by suicide or otherwise. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/jeffrey-epstein-dead-in-suicide-at-manhattan-jail-officials-say/ar-AAFCxx5?ocid=spartanntp
    There were reports that the prison had been using prisoners as trustees because of short staffing of guards.

  21. Ilíon says:

    Sick joke making the rounds: If you’re surprised by Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, imagine how surprised Epstein was.

  22. TFBW says:

    The guy was on suicide watch. And yet I suppose some people will still say “conspiracy theory” if you suggest he was murdered at the behest of those he might expose in testimony.

  23. TFBW says:

    No worries, we’ll just review the CCTV footage, right? That will clear things up.

  24. Kevin says:

    I wonder why the name “Clinton” randomly passed through my mind when I heard of the Epstein suicide.

  25. Ilíon says:

    The guy was on suicide watch

    Last (alleged) report I saw said that he’d been removed from suicide watch.

  26. Ilíon says:

    One the one hand, enough is publicly known about the sordid details that *everyone* knows that powerful people wanted him dead. This will make some sort of conspiracy theory at least rational and credible.

    On the other hand, if I were the sort of person who could have been brought down by the full facts coming to light — and being that sort more than implies that murder is never off the table — I’d have had him whacked a long time ago.

  27. TFBW says:

    Removed from suicide watch? I’m looking forward to hearing the rationale for that.

  28. Ilíon says:

    As I said on my wee little blog —

    Shoot! I’d have had multiple cameras watching Epstein, and cameras watching the cameras, and people physically watching Epstein, and cameras watching the people physically watching him, and people watching the cameras … and cameras watching *them*.

  29. TFBW says:

    Honestly, the most surprising thing is that he survived the first attempt to suicide him.

  30. Ilíon says:

    Indeed.

  31. Dhay says:

    A problem with the cult of ‘Science and Reason’ is nicely summarised in this quote from a The Nation article, which starts:

    What I can’t get over is how Epstein successfully weaseled his way into science at the highest level by cultivating major figures in the field socially and spreading his wealth around. …

    And continues:

    … Science! The very temple of the pursuit of truth. Call me insufficiently jaded, but am I wrong to expect more of those we rely on to combat all of the nonsense swirling around us?

    https://www.thenation.com/article/epstein-science-sex-abuse-eugenics/

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