Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Who Was That Bearded Man? A Possible Correction

Feeling uneasy with speculating that the photo of a guy who looks a hell of a lot like pictures of PZ Myers chatting over bottles of beverage with Jeffrey Epstein was The Sage of The UofMinn Morris,

 PZMyersByJerryRauser  vs

 Note that it would seem from the picture of Epstein that this was taken a few years back when, no doubt, like so many of us, Myers was less gray.   Epstein looks noticeably older in recently taken photographs, the photo on the left, definitely PZ Myers, is taken from his "Free Thought" blog.

I went to find out if Myers had anything to say about it.  I found that last November he denied ever having met Epstein.

I never met Jeffrey Epstein, fortunately. My sole link was through Lawrence Krauss, who memorably took me aside way back in 2010 to urge me to ignore the “rumors” going around about Epstein, who was a donor to his Origins program at ASU. He particularly warned me against that scurrilous gossiper, Rebecca Watson, who has since been revealed as a wise prophetess. I just figured this was what high-level people with the job of getting donations do to curry favor with donors, I didn’t actually know much about what Epstein had done. Of course, now I know (and I quickly learned then) that Epstein had pled guilty to soliciting sex from minors back in 2008, and it wasn’t so much “rumor” as “incontestable fact”, and that Watson wasn’t so much a prophetess as she was someone who had her eyes open. As she wrote in 2011:
Jeffrey Epstein is the infamous media mogul who was jailed in 2008 for paying underage prostitutes who said they were recruited by his aides. Some girls were allegedly flown in from Eastern Europe, their visas arranged by his bookkeeper. Epstein only served 13 months in prison thanks to a sweetheart plea agreement which is now being contested by attorneys representing two of the girls, who were 13 and 14 when they were allegedly paid for sex. Both girls are part of a larger group of victims who have won monetary settlements from Epstein in civil cases.
Krauss responded to that with several comments, still ardently defending Epstein, and this quote is particularly damning. .  . 

For now I'll accept that at his word.  I doubt Myers is stupid enough to deny something that can be documented,  Which leads me to wonder who the guy I mistook for him was.  Anyone know?    I will also note that even if, in the past, Myers may have run close to the same circles as Epstein that since "elevatorgate" he has broken with a lot of the same old, white, academically elite and increasingly right-wing men of the "skepticism"-atheism industry.  The little I pay attention to his blog, or Coyne's or any of them, these days, he's far from the worst offender on that count. 

If you want more on Steven Pinker's ass-covering and his critics, there's an interesting piece up at Inside Higher Ed on the topic.  

The part of it that I find most disturbing is how his bull-shit, pseudo-scientific credentials are being inserted into serious legal cases through Trump's TV lawyer implicated in the case, Alan Dershowitz, who I hope lives long enough to find himself disbarred for his misconduct if not indicted, though I'm neither holding my breath nor waiting up nights.  It is disgusting that someone like Pinker, by virtue of practicing pseudo-science as promoted by such elite institutions as MIT and Harvard is presented as a serious expert on such things as the meaning of laws, something he is entirely unqualified to do.  It is far more dangerous than his absurdly panglossian bull shit.  Jerry Coyne.  Lord help you if you're reduced to enlisting Jerry Coyne in your defense.


  1. Interesting Higher Ed article. Pinker's comments on rape are particularly offensive. But more offensive is the idea Pinker is what passes for a public intellectual in America. Giants walked among us once, and Linker isn't competent to unpack their sandals. Of course there are public intellectuals among us, like Breuggeman and Marilyne Robinson, but they dare not be recognized because, you know, religion v. Pinker's pseudo-science.

    1. For that I blame the allegedly "liberal" part of the media. I haven't listened to her much in years but whenever that particular question comes up, I find myself thinking of the crap I've heard on Fresh Air. I suppose if I hadn't been kept in ignorance of such problems of pseudo-intellectual modernism at an age I should have known about it, I'd be thinking of David Susskind or some other such 1960s media "intellectual". Mass media has such a tendency to turn to pretentious crap rather fast and the elite universities are right in the middle of that, which is why someone like Robinson works so effectively at the University of Iowa, I suppose.

  2. Most of the public discussion of religion in America is on the level of Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr. Most of the discussion of science is on the level of Stephen Pinker and Richard Dawkins.

    No wonder we seem so benighted.