I reject conspiracy theories


A rich abuser was put in prison. He was the subject of massive contempt from the general public. He knew he was screwed and wasn’t going to get out of this; he was going to get dragged through a grueling trial. He was never going to get out again, was never going to be able to molest young girls again, and that, apparently, was a part of his life that was extremely important to him. He tried to kill himself once before.

He finally successfully committed suicide. The cops didn’t interfere, they aren’t as competent as you might think from TV cop shows.

I find everything in my description above sufficient explanation of the event. If you want to claim something more nefarious at play, you’ll have to bring additional evidence to bear, and most of us do not have access to any deeper evidence than what we see reported in the news, and if you want to claim that there was an assassin hired to silence him, or that a body double was killed and the man is now getting plastic surgery and living in Uzbekistan, that’s called a conspiracy theory. It’s garbage.

If you want to claim there’s more to this than a despondent man outsmarting a penal system that doesn’t give a damn about the people under its responsibility, I’m going to roll my eyes at the absurdity, unless you bring new evidence.

By the way, plausibility is not evidence, nor is your conviction that someone is a villain.

Comments

  1. says

    He was 66 and had had a great time for decades. He knew it was all downhill from where he was. Killing himself stopped the clock; there’s no need for conspiracy.

    It’s fascinating that the wingnuts have decided Clintons silenced him, when it’s equally likely that there’s kompromat on Trump in his collection – and Trump has the FBI (the parts he has not antagonized yet) on his side.

    I my fantasy-world Nancy Pelosi goes on the news and says “hey China if you have any of Epstein’s kompromat, we’d love if you’d share it with wikileaks because apparently that’s how things are done around here.”

  2. bcwebb says

    You could argue the actions and possibly bank account of the person who ordered the end of the suicide watch should certainly be investigated, but yes, it quite likely is nothing more than the result of despair and ineptitude.

    The only conspiracy story I’ve ever indulged is the Anthrax attacks: whether they were a inside job by some part of the government. The attacks had the effect that a congress that appeared unlikely to support Bushes Iraq war ended up changing to vote narrowly in support.

    The bioweapon labs are controlled by one of the secretive three-letter agencies so the biggest failing of conspiracy stories – someone would have told – doesn’t apply. It would not have required the actions or knowledge of more than a person or two. Meanwhile, the bizarre investigation choices and assertions from the FBI were at best inept. That they claimed twice that they were quite certain that the attacks were by two different people neither with a clear path to producing the anthrax and then made false assertions about chemical evidence is very strange. Also that having failed to make it stick on the first person, the second person died in a convenient suicide. Meanwhile, National Security claims prevented the FBI from effectively investigating the weapon labs – they only looked at anti-virus labs.

  3. Hatchetfish says

    I want to see a full and transparent investigation of why and how he was taken off since watch less than a week after the first attempt: a review of policies involved, and an accounting ofall people inverted in that decision and the roles they had in it. Both for the purpose of silencing any conspiracies, and because the prison system fucked up, and regardless of whether it was incompetence or malice, accountability and change is obviously needed.

    It won’t happen.

  4. Ketil Tveiten says

    Lovely how “the system is so incompetently managed we don’t even need a conspiracy” is probably the right take here.

  5. says

    I find it fascinating that our idiot president immediately tweeted a reference to the bogus “Clinton Body Count,” which suggests that his administration and Department of Justice are so incompetent that Bill and Hillary can smoothly and efficiently evade their security measures and murder an inmate under suicide watch. Like I said. An idiot. Besides, the president is the one who has long been on record (in his own words) as ogling and lusting after under-age babes, so who had more at risk?

    Did I say “idiot”?

  6. Ed Seedhouse says

    @8: “suggests that his administration and Department of Justice are so incompetent that Bill and Hillary can smoothly and efficiently evade their security measures and murder an inmate under suicide watch”

    Yet still, oddly, can’t make the wife President.

  7. Ed Seedhouse says

    @8: “suggests that his administration and Department of Justice are so incompetent that Bill and Hillary can smoothly and efficiently evade their security measures and murder an inmate under suicide watch”

    Actually he was no longer under suicide watch. Which just “proves” how far the Clinton’s reach is. And yet they still couldn’t make Ms Clinton President.

  8. Johnny Vector says

    Hatchetfish @#3:

    I want to see a full and transparent investigation of why and how he was taken off since watch less than a week after the first attempt: a review of policies involved….

    There’s one policy: Suicide watches end after 5 days, and unless you can prove to a judge that there has been further suicidal actions, you don’t have a choice.

    No, I’m not myself familiar with the workings of the federal judicial system, but Popehat is. Everyone conspiracizing about the suicide watch needs to go read his recent tweets.

  9. says

    There is absolutely no possibility that the CIA and the President of the US would ever do anything like say ship cocaine into the country and then use the money they get from that to support a right wing counter revolution in a Central American country. That is just silly paranoia.

  10. Ragutis says

    NO FAIR! Why should the Republicans get all the good conspiracy theories?!

    Actually, as reasonable and likely as that description sounds, we’re now in an environment with a corrupt president who’s been busy stuffing the government with as many corrupt or compromised officials and lackeys as he can get his little orange hands on. The paranoid fuckers that believed or just pushed all that “deep state” nonsense have themselves created a government more worthy of skepticism than trust.

    I agree that it is more than likely to be just as you described, but it should never have been allowed to happen. That alone warrants an open, honest, and thorough inquiry into the circumstances around Epstein’s death. But the underlying problem is whether or not we can trust the DOJ under this president and the current A.G.

  11. fishy says

    I want to know what happens now.
    There was Dershowitz openly admitting to his participation in the bacchanal, and lying ridiculously by saying he kept his underwear on. He’s the sort of person who would roll over in a second, if push came to shove.
    Will this all fall down the memory hole or will other prosecutions follow?
    At the least, there had to be a network of human trafficking that Epstein relied on. Will this be investigated?

  12. Ragutis says

    fishy

    11 August 2019 at 2:22 pm

    I want to know what happens now.

    Well, Epstein will never testify, or face his accusers, but I’m seeing a decent consensus among legal type pundits and such that information and documents that were uncovered in investigating him, as well as any others that may still be produced (in the Palm Beach investigation of the Acosta deal, for example), are, and will be branching off into investigations of anyone who may be implicated in any related illegal activities. So, he can’t rat or spill the beans personally, but there’s probably people who shouldn’t be breathing any sighs of relief quite yet.

  13. says

    A “Program Coordinator” made the decision to take Epstein off suicide watch six days after a suicide attempt.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/after-his-suicide-watch-ended-jeffrey-epstein-was-left-to-look-after-himself

    Laziness and incompetence (people unwilling to put in the effort and do their jobs) are far more likely explanations than a murder conspiracy. Just look at other cases of abuse in New York jails and prisons where the administration did nothing while weak prisoners were violated or killed.

    https://www.norinsberglaw.com/abuse-of-inmates-in-new-york-prisons-and-jails/

    I am absolutely NOT suggesting the following happened:

    If there were outside interference, it wouldn’t require a “conspiracy”, just a simple order. Someone in a sufficient position of power knows that Epstein is suicidal and calls the prison, demanding he be put back in a regular cell instead of a suicide proof cell, in the hope that Epstein tries again. It only requires one person taking one action, not some grand scheme involving dozens all sworn to silence.

  14. monad says

    @12 Ronald: There are a lot of real conspiracies out there, but there are also things that don’t actually need one. Just because this works to the advantage of a lot of rich and powerful criminals doesn’t mean it isn’t also a lucky break for them. Because the real conspiracy is a whole system built to make sure the rich and powerful have every chance to take advantage of whatever lucky breaks might occur naturally.

  15. Ragutis says

    Intransitive

    11 August 2019 at 3:20 pm

    I am absolutely NOT suggesting the following happened:

    If there were outside interference, it wouldn’t require a “conspiracy”, just a simple order. Someone in a sufficient position of power knows that Epstein is suicidal and calls the prison, demanding he be put back in a regular cell instead of a suicide proof cell, in the hope that Epstein tries again. It only requires one person taking one action, not some grand scheme involving dozens all sworn to silence.

    And I am absolutely NOT making any accusation, but the New York Post is reporting that a witness (a current prisoner and former associate of Gotti Sr.) is claiming Bill Barr visited the MCC around the time of Epstein’s first alleged suicide attempt.

    This bullshit is exactly why we need a real, open, independent investigation.

  16. Sili says

    If this has happened over here, I’d be worried.

    But given the corrupt, incompetent, inefficient, inhumane nature of your correctional system, I’m only sorry that his victims will never receive justice.

  17. Gregory Greenwood says

    He almost certainly killed himself rather than face the consequences of his crimes, and the corrections system demonstrated its usual lack of interest in the well being of inmates. It is unfortunate that his death now means that we will likely never know how far the crimes of his circle of famous associates went, and that was quite possibly very convenient for several high profile individuals with a lot to lose if Epstein started talking, but that in itself doesn’t prove any conspiracy or provide any evidence that he was assassinated or faked his death.

    Do I think it possible that the powerful and influential might be tempted to take an opportunity to silence someone with incriminating evidence or testimony? Certainly.

    With that said, there is no evidence that this was the case here. The state the US, and the world at large, is in right now is entirely bad enough without any need for nebulous conspiracy theories.

  18. says

    Thank you so much for this, PZ. I don’t think I’ve ever seen conspiracy theories form so quickly before, and from so many different people. And I do get it, I’m sure there are a few persons that will benefit from this. But the man was under incredible pressure. As far as I can tell he deserved every bit of it, but that would hardly ease his burdens. It’s not implausible for such a person to commit suicide.
    And I think a lot of people overestimate how much work one would commit to keeping assholes like this alive.
    I can imagine that being a prison guard it’s a shitty job even on the best of days. I’m not saying it’s right or anything, just trying to be realistic…

    I’m not saying we should discard the possibility of foul play, people kill for less every day. A person capable of participating in human trafficking capable of anything, and we are talking of quite influential people here.

  19. madtom1999 says

    From what I hear about the man he was pretty psychopathic and used to exploiting and manipulating people. I would imagine he could easily convince a lowly paid prison psychiatrist that he was no longer in need of the attention.

  20. madtom1999 says

    As for the idea he was killed to silence him I would imagine he would have had several letters in safe places to be released on his sudden death as a precaution.

  21. says

    It’s not just “They murdered him!’ theories that are floating around. Some people are paranoid that somehow or other Epstein’s death was faked so he can get away. Personally if I were Epstein there’s no way I’d go along with a “spring me from jail” plot, as that would just allow “them” to be sure Epstein would never talk, or reveal information to the press. If you can sneak him out of jail it’s no more effort to kill him someplace else.

  22. says

    Ragutis #18 – I saw that on Alternet, a more reliable source than the corporate media. Who is more credible, a mob member or the trump administration?

  23. Ragutis says

    Erlend Meyer

    11 August 2019 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this, PZ. I don’t think I’ve ever seen conspiracy theories form so quickly before, and from so many different people.

    Um, have you paid attention to the right-wing fringes of U.S. politics lately? Just where the hell did “pizzagate” come from? Not to give any of these Epstein related theories any credibility, but at least in this case there are speculated causes following an actual event.

  24. Ragutis says

    Intransitive

    11 August 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Ragutis #18 – … Who is more credible, a mob member or the trump administration?

    Exactly.

    The cynic in me wants to say “What’s the difference?”

    I think he’s right.

    How the hell are we going to fix this?

  25. lochaber says

    How long was Chelsea Manning kept naked in a cell with rigid “blankets”, supposedly for her own “protection”

    Anyways, it is awfully convenient for a lot of rich and powerful people that Epstein will not be able to testify, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was killed. Sometimes coincidences are convenient.

    Though, I wouldn’t be surprised if some rich and powerful people used their connections and influences to make sure Epstein had adequate opportunity to commit suicide…

    I’ve heard people claiming that now that he is dead, there is no one with legal standing to contest searches of his property, or the results of those searches being entered as evidence. Hopefully those cases are pursued, and some of his associates are brought down.

  26. brutus says

    Until credible evidence is made public to the contrary, I’m content to believe it was a suicide to thwart prosecution and scrutiny. However, I am aware that in the aftermath more than a few conspiratorial suspicions are raised involving Epstein’s circle of connections. Since this toxic news bombshell broke I’ve heard others opine that Epstein was sure to be dead before he could take anyone else down with him. Let’s just hope that justice is served with further inquiry and prosecution as warranted.

  27. nomdeplume says

    Create enough alternative facts with conspiracy theories and the real facts disappear in the fog.

  28. kome says

    I’m not discounting any explanation for Epstein’s death (except “natural causes”, but thankfully no one is making that argument). It is not unheard of for people to commit suicide in prison. It is also not unheard of for rich and powerful people to use law enforcement in unlawful or immoral ways to protect themselves (e.g., how police have treated DAPL or OWS protestors and worked with the very people the protestors were protesting). And, ultimately, we as a nation are in a bit of a crisis of faith in our judicial system more generally, what with cops routinely getting away with murdering unarmed and nonthreatening individuals and judges giving rapists lenient sentences and so on. Still, coincidences do happen and sometimes even immoral powerful people catch a lucky break by having one potentially major threat to their power removed on its own.

    So, although a self-motivated suicide to escape his rather bleak future is a very very very viable and reasonable explanation, I don’t believe it’s the only viable and reasonable explanation. Nor, honestly, do I think those of us not directly involved in Epstein’s life or investigation have any direct evidence relevant to any proposed explanation and so we are all basically left to either trust certain sources of information or not, and just kind of deal with whichever explanation we find most probable. At this point, for the rest of us not directly involved in any part of Epstein’s investigation or imprisonment or whatever, this is largely just speculative nonsense anyway.

    What I’m most interested in is that the investigation continues, based on the information the FBI is said to have gained about Epstein’s clients/collaborators/etc. from the computers and documents they’ve seized already.

  29. says

    I’ve worked in corrections for 25 years. First watch, which is covers the early morning hours, tends to be the time when everybody nods off. Over worked staff will not be at their best. It only takes minutes.

  30. wzrd1 says

    @16, thanks, I was going to post that very story.
    It is a conspiracy of sorts, a conspiracy of mediocrity, of a substantial number of employees refusing to do their jobs to the standards set in the regulations governing their organization.
    Perhaps now, changes in the NY prison system will occur and prisoner mistreatment will cease. Alas, I suspect that it won’t, that the Peter principle will be applied.

  31. brain says

    He tried to kill himself once before.

    He finally successfully committed suicide.

    Sure.
    PZ, you are wielding Occam’s razor the wrong way.

  32. rpjohnston says

    The penal system might not “give a damn about the people under its custody” but rich, powerful people like Epstein don’t just get shoved in a corner like everyone else.

    There’s no crime-thriller bullshit necessary though. All that it really takes is people following orders: staff to the follow orders of the prison officers, who receive directives from the board, who follow the guidance of DoJ bureaucrats, who got it from his boss, who got it from her boss, who got it from the Junior Undersecretary of Crotch-sniffing, who got emailed a memo from Barr who “expressed concern about the toll that enhanced scrutiny was taking on Epstein’s mental health and requested that the Penitentiary relax the protocols on his confinement”.

  33. bcwebb says

    It’s looking more and more like a conspiracy to injure everyone in that prison by underfunding and understaffing a large, overfilled and dangerous jail -in the tradition of Trump never paying for anything. There was a hiring freeze at all federal prisons, courtesy of Trump. Barr claimed when under fire in front of Congress that the freeze would/had been lifted.

  34. John Morales says

    [um – wrong thread]

    So, obligatory on-topic: it is rather convenient, is all. Which I wrote after the previous incident, incidentally.

  35. dma8751482 says

    It’s unsurprising that a control freak like him would decide to go out like that. It’s basically one last “screw you, world!” from a wretch whose plans were going to explode in his face.

    Besides, it’s not like Trump would have hired a competent hitman (but his hitman killed a bigly lot of people, more people than anyone else ever, and everyone says he’s the best hitman. The prison was wrong, not his hitman) even if he did have a stake in the matter.

  36. scottde says

    I want to see a full and transparent investigation of why and how he was taken off since watch less than a week after the first attempt: a review of policies involved, and an accounting ofall people inverted in that decision and the roles they had in it. Both for the purpose of silencing any conspiracies, and because the prison system fucked up, and regardless of whether it was incompetence or malice, accountability and change is obviously needed.

    Usually suicide watch is stepped down after 24 hours. This is for two reasons: being on suicide watch is very intrusive, and can contribute to psychological instability. Thus, it can actually increase the motivation to commit suicide. Second, a prisoner in protective custody is innocent until proven guilty and equally importantly, it is the job of the BOP to deliver them competent to stand trial. If your suicide watch triggers a psychotic break (which it can do), you’ve failed your job.

  37. PaulBC says

    I would just call it undetermined. I see no reason I need to decide on what I think happened. Suicide is a plausible scenario with a lot of explanatory power. But other possibilities exist.

    I could certainly imagine someone making a decision, and not necessarily at the highest levels, just to leave him on his own and see what happens. (A lot of people might be disgusted by his behavior and want this outcome.) Considering that he had already tried to commit suicide, this was a massive breach. Whether incompetence or intent may never be known.

  38. brain says

    Considering that he had already tried to commit suicide

    I don’t know in the USA, but in Italy we had some quite interesting cases of prisoners who “committed suicide” or “died for natural causes” or for some “medical issue”. For some of them it took 10-15 years for justice to declare that they were actually killed by police, jail guards etc: it happened in situations where relatives were strong enough not to give up to intimidations, mocking, accusations of “conspiracy theories” etc.

    In this case there are simply no info enough, but for sure the opinion that something different from a suicide can have occurred is legitimate, and not a “conspiracy theory”.

  39. John Morales says

    brain:

    In this case there are simply no info enough, but for sure the opinion that something different from a suicide can have occurred is legitimate, and not a “conspiracy theory”.

    Whence your purported certitude?

    (You think there was an “arrangement”, just not a “conspiracy” — gotcha)

  40. chrislawson says

    PZ, I think your argument is good but your headline is too dismissive. there have been very real conspiracies in American politics before, and given the cronyism of the current regime, almost certainly going on right now. Some of the worst conspiracies were revealed by accident, such as the MK-ULTRA program which, if it hadn’t been for incompetent document destruction, we’d all think was a crazy paranoid delusion rather than an actual government program.

    So while I completely agree with you that conspiracy is not necessary to explain the facts available, I would also say that we are a long way yet from having enough information to be confident that the facts available are all we need to know.

    A small sample of verifiable conspiracies in American political history:
    Iran-Contra
    Gulf of Tonkin
    McCarthyism (simultaneously a true conspiracy and a mad conspiracy theory)
    PRISM
    Facebook and the Cambridge Analytica leaks
    Iraq’s WMD capability
    Project Sunshine (if you like your conspiracies literally ghoulish)
    The Tuskegee syphilis experiment
    Operation Paperclip
    Immunity for Shirō Ishii, who should have been hanged a thousand times over
    FBI’s destabilisation of the Black Panthers…

  41. brain says

    46 John Morales

    Whence your purported certitude?

    From the fact that a conspiracy is not the only alternative to suicide. False dichotomy, you know?

  42. John Morales says

    Heh, O (feeble) brain.

    So, if it wasn’t suicide, then what was it where no second (nor third!) party was involved that made it not be suicide? Pray do tell?

    (You bluster a heap, you never step up)

  43. GerrardOfTitanServer - formerly EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To chrislawson
    Those examples remain so notable to today because they are the exceptions, and not the rule.

    Except for American abuse of other countries, covert and otherwise. Those are the rule with the occasional exception.

  44. Toklineman says

    Suicide while under charges has traditionally been though a tacit plea of “guilty.” I would like to see that applied as the burden of proof and his estate divided equally among all those who have come forward to charge him with their abuse.

  45. dianne says

    I don’t know who killed Epstein. Epstein is certainly high on the list of suspects. However…
    1. It’s hardly a “deep state” conspiracy theory to note that people are sometimes murdered in jail. Sometimes by those who wish to make sure they don’t testify.
    2. That first suicide attempt: Epstein was found down with marks around his neck. Not a rope or any other ligature. Just marks. How is that even physically possible for a suicide attempt? Did he choke himself with his hands? Did the rope slip off? It’s strange to me that the immediate and unquestioned conclusion from finding him down with marks on his neck was “suicide attempt” and no further investigation. (Caveat: This is assuming that the media report of his injuries and how he was found are accurate. This is not necessarily a good assumption.)
    3. Trump immediately accused Clinton of killing Epstein. Given that “accuse the opponent of that which you are guilty” is pretty much Trump’s standard MO, I find it not unreasonable to consider Trump a prime suspect. It’s not proof of his guilt (i.e. Trump wasn’t born in Kenya, as he claimed Obama was), but it’s information that should be taken into account.
    4. A whole lot of rich people had reason to fear his testimony. Few of them got rich by being unwilling to remove obstacles to their own wealth.

    In short, while I don’t necessarily think that Epstein was murdered for political reasons, I think it’s not unreasonable to suspect that he was and that an investigation into what happened is reasonable.

  46. PaulBC says

    Echoing some comments above.

    I agree that the headline is too dismissive. Conspiracies are the way people do anything we can’t do alone. We’re social animals and rarely act entirely as individuals. So it is not crazy to imagine a conspiracy. We have just gotten into the habit of only calling cooperative effort a “conspiracy” if we judge its purpose to be wrong and imagine it to be carried out in secret. But that happens too. E.g. was salary fixing by certain Bay Area tech companies a “conspiracy theory”? Well, that’s a case where I didn’t think about it too much but I later got a surprisingly large class action settlement check without even asking. So I assume there was evidence to the satisfaction of the courts. It was wrong and it was secret, though at some level less believable to me than the null hypothesis that tech companies would be more likely to compete than collude on salary.

    It becomes less believable when the details are especially lurid and a lot of gaps are filled into with speculation. But strange things can happen. Sometimes there is not enough evidence to be sure.

    It’s always legitimate to ask the classic question “Cui bono?” In this case, Epstein is a clear beneficiary of his suicide, because he was headed for bad times that would have looked nothing like the decades leading up to it. But there were many other people who benefit from not bringing his case to criminal trial. There also might have been prison guards who took a disliking to him personally or after considering the accusations against him. Except that he was alone, his fellow prisoners would also be suspects.

    I find the official story reasonably plausible. I find it a little more believable that a preventable suicide was intentionally allowed to occur. It is hard for me to believe that such a high profile prisoner slipped through the cracks without anyone acting to help it along. So in short, I don’t know, but I do not “reject conspiracy theories” in any categorical sense.

  47. Howard Brazee says

    I’m a much bigger believer in The Peter Principle than in conspiracies that require everybody to be both loyal to the boss and extremely competent.

  48. jrkrideau says

    @ 25 Intransitive
    Who is more credible, a mob member or the trump administration?

    Is this a trick question?

    I’d probably prefer to believe Steven Harper but the mob member seems promising.

  49. mrquotidian says

    Just as I was / am skeptical about the “Trump is a puppet” grand conspiracy, I am also skeptical of the “Epstein was murdered to silence him” one as well. Greed and incompetence is enough to explain so many things in life. But I’m keeping an open mind, in the latter case especially.

    Personally, I think suicide is the most simple explanation for Epstein, but even that does not rule out an extensive and nefarious network of co-conspirators who benefit from that action. That doesn’t mean they caused his death however. What is evident is that there is a class of supremely wealthy and powerful people who are personally and financially connected across the globe. Many of these people are not doubt committing massive political and financial conspiracies, and some are committing acts of violence to these ends (Saudi royals for instance, or Putin). These people are financially entangled with banks and corporate entities on a global scale and there is a lot of incentive to keep the gravy train rolling. That much is easy to believe.

    As Paul Simon said, “A loose affiliation of millionaires and billionaires…”

    These are indeed the days of miracle and wonder..

  50. dma8751482 says

    @PaulBC

    Howard’s comment is on the nose here. His suicide was enabled mainly due to the ineptitude of his captors rather than their actively expecting and allowing him to kill himself. However I would not be surprised that any of his guards who did want him dead weren’t thinking about his testimony at all- there’s quite a few people out there who consider justice to be synonymous with the death of the perpetrator (although it may be more accurate to call that revenge, they don’t see it that way).

    Odds are that this was a combination of several factors coming together in just the wrong way to enable his suicide, but short of going back in time to witness it ourselves there’s no way of knowing what happened for sure.

  51. PaulBC says

    What is evident is that there is a class of supremely wealthy and powerful people who are personally and financially connected across the globe.

    The fact that powerful “sworn enemies” are more often seen socializing together than with anyone among the non-elite is a one of those things so obvious that people rarely stop to think how disgusting it is. Epstein’s circle just takes it to another level.

    I do not think there is a “Republicocrat” party in American politics. There are clear differences in values and motives. But it’s very clear that the interests of the powerful are not my interests. None of it would be unusual by historical standards, but we maintain the pretense that our top universities are open to those who show “merit” and are not primarily there to perpetuate ties between the powerful. We act like it’s nothing surprising to find political dynasties in a supposedly democratic nation.

    It all makes me sick, and while there’s no easy fix, we should at least stop teaching our kids to lie about it. Without supporting any particular conspiracy theory, it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that the game is heavily rigged.

  52. PaulBC says

    It surprises me (though I guess it should not) that more of the conspiracy theories appear to be coming from those who want to blame the Clintons than those who want to blame the Trump administration. This makes me favor the suicide explanation, though it may have been “allowed” out of intent rather than incompetence.

    The Trump administration would obviously have much more effective means to carry out some nefarious plot than the Clintons, now private citizens albeit wealthy. Clinton-haters must really believe they have ninjas in their employ.

    Bill Barr is solidly in Trump’s camp and claimed to be “appalled” by the suicide. Maybe it’s just a diversionary tactic. Maybe he is one of the Clinton-conspiracy believers (weird thing to say about an AG but this is Barr).

    If two opposing sides each have their own reasons for investigating Epstein, then maybe we’ll see something happen. Though I am not too optimistic. It appears to be a flaw in our justice system that the prosecution ends when a suspect dies. There are many reasons to pursue the evidence that have nothing to do with sentencing the culprit.

  53. Zeppelin says

    I seem to recall that Epstein claimed he didn’t actually attempt suicide the first time around, but was beaten. But I haven’t been following the whole affair, so maybe that was just a rumour.
    Did he actually say he was attacked, and if so, did anything come of it? And if he did claim it, did he have a motivation to lie? Transferral to a nicer facility?

    Because if he really was beaten and the whole thing declared a “suicide attempt”, that’s extremely fishy. They would have…encouraged him to off himself (“Pedophiles don’t do well in prison, you know. We’ll make sure of that in your case.”) and conveniently also given the public the impression that he was suicidal to begin with.

    Of course even if it did happen that way, it needn’t have been a conspiracy. Maybe the jailers just felt like tormenting a famous pedophile.

  54. flange says

    I am not a conspiracy theorist. Most things do not happen for a reason. But Republicans have a history of doing whatever it takes to get what they want. I believe Epstein’s death is a “suicide” as much as Paul Wellstone’s was an “accident.”

  55. PaulBC says

    flange@63 I agree about Wellstone, or suspect as much anyway. Other famous people have died in small plane crashes, and small planes are known to crash purely by accident as well.

    I wonder if it would be possible to classify small plane crashes (along with the vast majority of non-crashes) according to whether others benefited statistically from the death of the passengers and at least find enough correlation to suggest that accident is not always the most likely explanation.

  56. PaulBC says

    My other thought about “conspiracy theories” is you have to begin by asking “What would you think if this happened in another country?” For some reason (at least in the US) it is consider impolite, or déclassé, or something to suggest that an event with an obvious beneficiary might not be an accident.

  57. chrislawson says

    GoTS@50–

    They’re not the exception to the rule at all. I only mentioned a handful. There’s also Watergate, Chappaquidick, the Teapot Dome Scandal, the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal, and so on and so on. Senator William Blount, a property speculator, conspired to have England take control of Florida and Louisiana by military force…and this was way back in Washington’s presidency. There are innumerable smaller conspiracies too. Just look at Project Innocence’s work and the resistance they’ve experienced from law enforcement.

    The point I’m trying to make is not that conspiracy theorists should be taken seriously, it’s that you can’t automatically reject a hypothesis just because it involves a conspiracy. The true giveaway is when the conspiracy makes no sense (Pizzagate, “crisis actors”) or when there is compelling evidence against it (faked moon landings, Flat Earth). That’s what marks fallacious conspiracy theory thinking — believing a theory despite it being ridiculous or even downright disproved.

  58. dianne says

    I don’t see anything implausible about the claim that a man whose arrest threatens powerful people, including some with mob connections, was killed in jail. It’s something that happens. I also don’t see anything implausible about the idea that a man in Epstein’s situation might be suicidal. So I’m not sure why either belief–that Epstein killed himself or that he was killed by (or on behalf of) parties unknown with suspects including Trump, Clinton, Prince Andrew, and FSM knows how many other rich men. Neither possibility seems wildly unlikely to me.

    Personally, I kind of hope it was the AG who ordered him killed. Just so this can go down in history as the Epstein-Barr scandal.

  59. flange says

    @ Diane 68

    Epstein-Barr. Brava!
    I would call Epstein’s death, probably, a passive homicide. He wanted to commit suicide, to die. Those benefitting from his death facilitated and allowed it to happen. It’s win/win for Trump and his coterie of thugs.

  60. marinerachel says

    There’s been no evidence presented that anyone else was present when Epstein died yet people are concluding it’s more likely than not that others were involved.

    Oooookay…

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