In checking over the proofs for my forthcoming book, I have also been checking the citations. One of my citations was to a quote from an essay by MIT physicist Seth Lloyd. The quote I used was “Unlike mathematical theorems, scientific results can’t be proved. They can only be tested again and again until only a fool would refuse to believe them”. It appeared in a compilation of short essays in a 2006 book titled What We Believe but Cannot Prove: Today’s Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty that consisted of contributions from more than 100 people who were asked to write a few paragraphs on the following prompt:
Great minds can guess the truth before they have either the evidence or arguments for it. (Diderot called it having the “spirit de divination.”) What do you believe is true, even though you cannot prove it?
The ‘great minds’ who had been invited to share their thoughts consisted of writers, philosophers, scientists, other academics, and assorted intellectuals and most of the names will be familiar to many. But on scanning the list of contributors, I was taken aback to see our old friend, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, currently in jail awaiting another trial! Yes, this person, who is described in the book as a money manager and science philanthropist (but not, oddly, as a disgusting pervert who preys on young girls), was actually invited to share his deep thoughts on this topic.
I am sure that all of you are agog to know what pearls of wisdom he handed out. To save you the trouble of combing through the book, here is his contribution in its entirety, which could well be the shortest contribution to the volume.
I believe that the mechanism for the human perception of time will be discovered. Almost another sense—the ability to distinguish past from present, in intervals long enough to convey a thought and create memories—will establish a new boundary of consciousness.
There will be found (in addition to entropy) a cost, or friction, for just moving through time. Steady states will be the classical limit. We will uncover the formula for time’s relationship to life, which will be as unique as time’s relationship to space.
That’s it? What the hell does this even mean? It is Deepak Chopra-esque levels of pseudo-profound inanities.
I wondered how and why Epstein was picked as a contributor since he has not, as far as I am aware, written anything of value or significance in his life. And yet he had been identified as a ‘leading thinker’ and a ‘great mind’ and asked to share his wisdom. I wondered if any of the other contributors might have promoted him as a great mind, so I looked through the list (click on the ‘Look inside’ link on the top right of the Amazon link for the book) and there are some possible suspects. Physicist Lawrence Krauss and biologist Robert Trivers who have both defended Epstein are contributors as is Stephen Pinker who has hobnobbed with Epstein and even flown on his private jet that has been nicknamed the Lolita Express. Did they vouch for Epstein having a great mind? And if so, on what basis? The editor of this volume John Brockman is now deceased but the publisher’s editor Sarah Lippincott may be still alive and Ian McEwan who wrote the introduction is still alive and may be able to answer.
It is quite extraordinary how some ascribe great personal qualities to people whose main distinguishing feature is that they have a lot of money and are willing to spend it on them.
Samantha Bee shares some thoughts about Epstein’s supporters and enablers.
Stephen Colbert also looked at Epstein’s celebrity cronies and even scored an exclusive interview with the “old, old, Russian woman” that lawyer Alan Dershowitz, another friend of Epstein’s as well as his lawyer, says gave him his massage.