These are scientists?

Tell me if this sounds familiar. MIT students confronted Seth Lloyd about his affiliation with Jeffrey Epstein, and he made this gobsmackingly stupid remark: I never saw him with underage women. He traveled around with two assistants, who were women in their 20s, who were typically very beautiful, and they were presumably previous Victoria’s Secret models.

Did he card them? Check their CVs for their employment history? Does he think that association with women above the age of consent means you could never have ever associated with underage women? Remember, this was after Epstein had been convicted.

It reminds me of something else: Lawrence Krauss’s feeble rationalizations.

“If anything, the unfortunate period he suffered has caused him to really think about what he wants to do with his money and his time, and support knowledge,” says Krauss. “Jeffrey has surrounded himself with beautiful women and young women but they’re not as young as the ones that were claimed. 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.” Though colleagues have criticized him over his relationship with Epstein, Krauss insists, “I don’t feel tarnished in any way by my relationship with Jeffrey; I feel raised by it.”

I’m embarrassed for them. Scientists should have a better appreciation of how evidence works, and that personal eyewitness evidence isn’t the only kind there is…that’s more of a Ken Ham attitude than I’d expect from these two.


  1. Susan Montgomery says

    Any bets on when Lloyd will start in with the “I have free speech, It’s my opinion, you can’t judge people, only Nazis judge people, liberals are the real Nazis who hate free speech and debate!” routine that we always fall for?

  2. kome says

    It’s amazing how so many scientists will believe all manner of empirical claim without question on the basis of evidence that they themselves haven’t personally observed, but then when it comes to empirical claims about the immoral behavior of their personal friends they suddenly act like creationists do about evolution: “I don’t see it happen right in front of my eyes exactly as I imagine it would be if the claim were true, therefore it can’t possibly be true.”

  3. DanDare says

    Doesn’t the conviction carry with it a portfolio of publicly available evidence? These guys just ignore that?

  4. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    The reason it sounds like Ken Ham is because it is exactly the same rationalization. When we want to defend ourselves from having to feel bad, in this case for having being publicly associated with a monster, it’s much easier to resolve the dissonance by using a terrible argument. “I didn’t see it, therefore it can’t happen” is the kind of thing we learn isn’t true around the time we learn what object permanence is. But if we dress it up with words like “empirical”, we can make ourselves feel warm and rational instead of morally bankrupt.

  5. wzrd1 says

    I’ve been known, as has my wife, been known to attract interest and respect of such junior members of our society. Largely, due to our following a number of strict moral codes, candor being critical. Never lying, being honest, nurturing, sounds entirely counterintuitive, oddly, yeah, in our society.
    I fucked up and you fucked up are equal, a fuck-up occurred, I’m addressing mine via… How are you addressing your fuck-up.
    Good, you’re addressing it or bad, you’re ignoring an ogre in the corner, which will grow larger.

    Our rationale is simple enough, we wanted a larger family, but medical misadventures denied us that option, so we’re actually well known to adopt dysfunctional families and take them under our wing.
    So, we’ve actually “adopted” entire families.
    My, the male half of this couple, has never been tempted by anyone to engage in any kind of shenanigans.
    Given my own age of 58 years, I couldn’t be tempted by anyone our children’s age of early to mid 30’s and younger and given that I have a wife that does a good job at checking me when I start to go off a deep end, that’s grand exemplar for me!

    Leaving me wondering what these men were thinking. They can’t hope to do anything for these children, but predate upon them.
    Then, my much older grandchildren than PZ’s protective thoughts engage…
    And I was a soldier for a very, very long time. One whose job was to terrorize terrorists.
    Personally, I prefer advising to vengeance.

    @5, it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.
    Refraining from calculating the madness of Trump.
    That said, it’s a fair prediction of popular revolt, given the polarization of the political and social spectrum, not sure how things’ll go if he’s acquitted. To the point of it actually being one of the few things that keep me up at night.

  6. Dunc says

    As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him

    That’s a really oddly specific age range… I definitely couldn’t judge people’s ages that accurately.

  7. drmarcushill says

    Oh, come on, people. Don’t you know that criminals have no self-awareness and always commit their crimes out in the open when they attend large gatherings and professional meetings? Clearly, if he wasn’t abusing girls in hotel foyers, he was innocent!

  8. hookflash says

    Isn’t he simply explaining why he shouldn’t have to resign — i.e., that he, personally, didn’t know about Epstein’s crimes?

  9. harryblack says

    I see this kind of rationale a lot from people making shit arguments.
    “Well I’m a scientist/skeptic to I look at things empirically and reach my decisions after viewing the evidence. YOU however are ideologically motivated so you cannot have looked at or interpreted the evidence as well as me….”
    The fuck.
    Its like they forget the most basic truth of science/skepticism- We all have bias. You know its there. Go look for it in your conclusions.

  10. pilgham says

    Spontaneous generation lives! These 19 to 23 years olds just spring into Epstein’s circle, originating out of old Victoria’s Secret catalogs. (And does VS have grounds for a lawsuit, implying they are employing underage models?) Do 18 year olds have parties when they become 19 and get to hang out with Epstein and Krauss?

  11. PaulBC says

    Uh, what? I am grasping for something snarky or cogent to say, and coming up empty. “Uh, what?” may be the best I’ll do.

    Let’s assume generously that by Victoria’s Secret model, he means any fashion model and is just adding a colorful embellishment. It’s still an astounding leap of logic. And needless to say, there are more beautiful women and girls than there are jobs in modeling (but, hell, there are always plenty of jobs in abusive sex work).

    And, uh, really, you can tell a 19 year old from a 16 year old? From a 14 year old? With absolute certainty? Gimme a break.

  12. harryblack says

    I think he is telling on himself. He clearly sees women in a certain way and categorises them as such based on physical appearance. What sort of person sees someone doing a normal job and jumps to a conclusion about whether or not that person is a model?! And an underwear model….
    There are some clear issues with this persons view of women.

    Regarding the age thing, I think the principle of charity is not applicable for him at this point given the above. It seems suspiciously like selective ignorance and very convenient that he did not think any of the women in question were under 19?!
    But regarding the ability to identify different age groups, there is some research I believe that suggests the further we ourselves are from an age range, the harder we find it to predict accurately the age of those people.
    Bar staff in places where the drinking age is 18 are fairly decent at it (the places I worked in anyway, but that could be the toupee fallacy? Anyone where there was any doubt was always carded).
    If it was a normal person in normal circumstances I might assume that they can tell a 14yo from a 19yo but this whole statement is an attempt to divert suspicion without saying anything super obviously false so I dont think it warrants investigation for plausibility. That gives too much benefit of the doubt.

  13. A Sloth named Sparkles says

    More than that: These are people who represents atheists & skeptics?
    How is it that they, who put popes in their places, somehow defend their relationship with Epstein?
    We expected better from these so-called “rational” men but in the end, just two sides of same coin.

  14. hookflash says

    Where are people getting the idea that SL doesn’t believe Epstein is guilty, or that he’s making excuses for Epstein!? Either you guys are crazy or I am…

  15. deadguykai says

    Being my alma mater, MIT will probably soon be calling me for a donation, like they so often do. This year I’ve got a whole new reason to tell them to fuck off. It is not the same place I went to all those years ago.

  16. chrislawson says


    I’ve just reread the post and the comment thread. Nobody has claimed that SL thinks Epstein was not guilty. The issue is SL making terrible arguments for why he shouldn’t be held accountable for his actions.

  17. hookflash says

    chrislawson@18: Who does SL think shouldn’t be held accountable? Epstein? Cause I am not getting that from those clips. It sounds to me like SL is arguing that he shouldn’t have to resign over his association with Epstein because he didn’t know Epstein was doing anything shady. If that’s the argument he’s making, then it’s not a terrible argument at all.

  18. Jazzlet says

    SL accepted the money after Epstein had been convicted so he should have been in no doubt that Epstein was guilty, SL hid the fact that he was accepting research money from Epstein, and SL accepted money for himself in addition to the research funding. He knew what he was doing was not appropriate and he is trying to wriggle out of taking responsibility.

  19. maat says

    Everyone is concentrating on the lower number and not one has noticed the upper age limit.
    So… this old, ugly, in every way repulsive male considers women above 23 years of age too old for him?