The entanglement of science with money and crime

The system in the USA has led to deep systemic flaws in all kinds of important institutions. One of the arguments Lawrence Krauss used to try to dissuade me from criticizing Jeffrey Epstein was that he gives so much money to so many scientific enterprises. He’s a friend of science! He donated to Krauss’s Origins Project at ASU. He was dropping millions of dollars on various universities. Look at Harvard, they were happy to take cash from a child rapist.

My university is a small liberal arts college, not well known at all, so I don’t think anyone as perverted as Epstein has donated to us, but I have to be honest. We’re always cash-strapped, so if Epstein had called up and said he wants to give us a million dollars, our administration might well have leapt at it. It’s hard to blame the recipients of corruption when our country is trying so hard to make our educational institutions so desperate (not Harvard, though — Harvard never has any excuse, other than that they’re greedy and grasping for more).

Read this long thread from Nathan Oseroff-Spicer to see how deep the rot has gone.

He highlights two big names, Lawrence Krauss and Steven Pinker. They are not accused of participating in any of Epstein’s sex crimes. Instead, what you see is an unhealthy respect for the wealthy, which motivates them to actively defend a child rapist, or in more generous circumstances, to kindly turn a blind eye to his activities. They are part of the silencing machine of rape culture. Epstein, and many others, are exploiting the system to rape and abuse, but even larger numbers of well-connected people are conspiring to keep it quiet. They wouldn’t even think of raping a child, but hey, that guy who would — he’s bringing megabucks to our research program. Let’s keep his activities out of the public eye, let’s minimize the complaints of his victims, let’s accuse anyone who criticizes rapists of inciting a “moral panic”. As Rebecca Solnit writes:

Monsters rule over us, on behalf of monsters. Now, when I think about what happened with Strauss-Kahn, who was subsequently accused of sexual assault by several other women, and with cases like his, it’s the secondary characters who seem to matter most. These men could not do what they did without a culture—lawyers, journalists, judges, friends—that protected them, valued them, devalued their victims and survivors. They do not act alone, and their might is nothing more or less than the way a system rewards and protects them, which is another definition of rape culture. That is, their impunity is not inherent; it’s something the society grants them and can take away.

You want a particularly vivid example? Just look at Alexander Acosta, the attorney who negotiated that absurdly evil sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. He arranged a slap-on-the-wrist prison deal for Epstein — he was free to go about his business, but just had to report in to the prison at night for 13 months — and as a reward, Acosta was promoted to US labor secretary. Now in his elevated position, he’s using his power to cut the budget of the agency responsible for combating child sex trafficking by 80%. Solnit was understating the problem.

Our country is run by a wealthy sex predator who elevates amoral people who have defended other wealthy sex predators to positions where they can protect more sex predators. Meanwhile, academics at wealthy institutions tut-tut those who point out the obvious conflict here as part of “a growing sexual-assault bureaucracy” that “maintains a vested interest in fueling the panic”. We’re being impressively gaslit by these apologists for rape culture.

There’s very little penalty for actively working to maintain rape culture. I learn from Rebecca Watson that Krauss is being rewarded with cruise to Cambodia and Vietnam, with his good buddy Richard Dawkins, funded by the Origins Project — you know, the foundation that used to be funded in part by Jeffrey Epstein. You too can join this luxurious 8-day / 7-night riverboat cruise with Krauss and Dawkins for the low, low price of $10,000.

Krauss is still the president of the board of directors of the Origins Project Foundation — his dismissal from his position at ASU doesn’t affect that in the slightest. Take a look at all the well-known people serving on that board. Some of them I’ve met and engaged with in the context of the atheist movement, and there they are, willingly serving a known sexual harasser and creep. I can sympathize with wanting to support a good cause, but they’re doing it by enabling a bad man. That’s how rape culture thrives.

I’m glad to be out of it. Especially since Rebecca is going to launch all those moral cowards into the sun.


  1. embraceyourinnercrone says

    It always astounds me when people ask why girls/boys/women/men don’t go to the police when they are sexually assaulted or raped. Hell the girls Epstein and his friends raped went to the police/FBI/authorities (or in some cases their parents did) and after going through all the pain and embarrassment of having to talk about and relive it, he gets a slap on the wrist and goes on his merry way. Side note – if I have to see or hear one more news-person call these girls underage women I will barf. They are minors, they are teenagers, middle-school or high school age adolescents.

  2. robro says

    Maybe not so rich (NY Times): Jeffrey Epstein’s Fortune May Be more Illusion Than Fact. Sound familiar. Interesting set of characters in that article: including Steven J. Hoffenberg (convicted fraudster) and Deutsche Bank (until recently). There are reports that Sen. Schumer has received donations from Epstein, as I’m sure many others have. It’s a sad testimony to the “money buys influence” theme we’re seeing so much of.

  3. doubtthat says

    Trigger warning for mentioning the specifics of these horrific crimes.
    Goddamn, the number of people whose response to this situation is, “Guys, we need to have a talk about age of consent laws,” is fucking staggering.
    First of all, if you read the accounts of the victims, a good number of those encounters would still be rape if the victims, instead of being 13-15, were 18, 25, 45…He lured many of them to his apartment under the guise of working with them professionally (modeling, usually), began grooming them with increasingly disturbing actions, usually massages, and then straight up, forceably raped them as they audibly screamed for him to stop:
    So, fuck all of that shit-ass internet comment thread “well actual-ling” about the age people got married in the 1700’s.
    And finally, anyone curious about the details of this disgusting fucking case should listen to this very good podcast:

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    One of the arguments Lawrence Krauss used to try to dissuade me from criticizing Jeffrey Epstein was that he gives so much money to so many scientific enterprises.

    This is the same as Trump Tweeting that he shouldn’t be investigated because the economy is supposedly doing well. Either way, both arguments misses the point by several mega parsecs; money and success do not excuse villainy!

  5. doubtthat says

    I would also like to point out that during the 16 hours of daily release from prison as he “served” his term, Epstein would hang out at his office where there was a continual stream of women and girls. It is VERY likely that he continued to abuse and rape women and girls DURING his 13 month sentence.

  6. petesh says

    That thread by Nathan Oseroff-Spicer is quite interesting, but it’s worth noting that it’s three months old and he himself is not as taken with it as some are:

    “Enjoying split in opinion about a months-old thread I wrote on Epstein, Krauss and Pinker and economic incentives in the sciences: some think it’s an incredible piece of analysis; others think its very existence means I should move to a cabin in the heart of the woods. / I think it’s neither? I’m sorry, sorry, I had no idea where I was going when I wrote it, please stop calling me a failure because the thread didn’t address something you wanted it to?”

  7. says

    Wikipedia: Droit du seigneur, (‘lord’s right’), is a supposed legal right in medieval Europe, allowing feudal lords to have sexual relations with subordinate women, in particular, on their wedding nights. Also predecessors and non-European practices.

    The rich and powerful have always had the ‘right(s)’ to abuse the weaker and powerless. The concept of ‘equal justice under the law’ has been brazenly nullified with the descendance of DJT into POTUS. Nothing new here.

  8. kurt1 says

    Don’t worry, Krauss disproved all allegations Eppstein already plead guilty to using science!

    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.

  9. robro says

    kurt1 — What was his empirical evidence that those women were 19 to 23? Did they just look that old to him? Did he card them? Or is he just a self-serving bullshitter? (I think we know the answer.)

  10. robro says

    I suppose by now most know the name Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald reporter who has been pursuing this case for years, including Acosta’s non-prosecution deal with the Florida AG (and there are several more prominent names on that side of this garbage scow). Slate touches on her work here, such as a heavily redacted police report she received that lists 100 Jane Does. One hundred.

  11. ridana says

    he was free to go about his business, but just had to report in to the prison at night for 13 months

    I wonder if he had to undergo body cavity searches every night when he checked in, like anyone else would have had to. Oh wait, no, I don’t wonder that at all. I do wonder if he was allowed to bring his own TempurPedo mattress and silk sheets for his prison cot, or if those provided by the prison?

  12. gijoel says

    Wow Noam Chomsky is on Orgin’s board of directors. That’s really fucking disappointing.