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When the Levee Breaks

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The Aristocrats!

Jeffrey E. Epstein, the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker, had an unusual dream: He hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch. . .

Even after his 2008 conviction on charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor, Mr. Epstein attracted a glittering array of prominent scientists. They included the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who discovered the quark; the theoretical physicist and best-selling author Stephen Hawking; the paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould [this can’t be true, as Gould died in 2002; the updated version of the story removes his name]; Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and best-selling author; George M. Church, a molecular engineer who has worked to identify genes that could be altered to create superior humans; and the M.I.T. theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek, a Nobel laureate.


The lure for some of the scientists was Mr. Epstein’s money. He dangled financing for their pet projects. Some of the scientists said that the prospect of financing blinded them to the seriousness of his sexual transgressions, and even led them to give credence to some of Mr. Epstein’s half-baked scientific musings.


Scientists gathered at dinner parties at Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, where Dom Pérignon and expensive wines flowed freely, even though Mr. Epstein did not drink. He hosted buffet lunches at Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, which he had helped start with a $6.5 million donation.


Others flew to conferences sponsored by Mr. Epstein in the United States Virgin Islands and were feted on his private island there. Once, the scientists — including Mr. Hawking — crowded on board a submarine that Mr. Epstein had chartered.


The Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker said he was invited by colleagues — including Martin Nowak, a Harvard professor of mathematics and biology, and the theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss — to “salons and coffee klatsches” at which Mr. Epstein would hold court. . . .

On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s, Mr. Epstein told scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and would give birth to his babies, according to two award-winning scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals, all of whom Mr. Epstein told about it.


It was not a secret. The adviser, for example, said he was told about the plans not only by Mr. Epstein, at a gathering at his Manhattan townhouse, but also by at least one prominent member of the business community. One of the scientists said Mr. Epstein divulged his idea in 2001 at a dinner at the same townhouse; the other recalled Mr. Epstein discussing it with him at a 2006 conference that he hosted in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands.

But what about those gala luncheons?

Mr. Epstein made no secret of his interest in tinkering with genes — and in perpetuating his own DNA.


One adherent of transhumanism said that he and Mr. Epstein discussed the financier’s interest in cryogenics, an unproven science in which people’s bodies are frozen to be brought back to life in the future. Mr. Epstein told this person that he wanted his head and penis to be frozen.


Southern Trust Company, Mr. Epstein’s Virgin Island-incorporated business, disclosed in a local filing that it was engaged in DNA analysis. Calls to Southern Trust, which sponsored a science and math fair for school children in the Virgin Islands in 2014, were not returned.
In 2011, a charity established by Mr. Epstein gave $20,000 to the Worldwide Transhumanist Association, which now operates under the name Humanity Plus. The group’s website says that its goal is “to deeply influence a new generation of thinkers who dare to envision humanity’s next steps.”


Mr. Epstein’s foundation, which is now defunct, also gave $100,000 to pay the salary of Ben Goertzel, vice chairman of Humanity Plus, according to Mr. Goertzel’s résumé.


“I have no desire to talk about Epstein right now,” Mr. Goertzel said in an email to The New York Times. “The stuff I’m reading about him in the papers is pretty disturbing and goes way beyond what I thought his misdoings and kinks were. Yecch.”


Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor emeritus of law at Harvard, recalled that at a lunch Mr. Epstein hosted in Cambridge, Mass., he steered the conversation toward the question of how humans could be improved genetically. Mr. Dershowitz said he was appalled, given the Nazis’ use of eugenics to justify their genocidal effort to purify the Aryan race.


Yet the lunches persisted.


“Everyone speculated about whether these scientists were more interested in his views or more interested in his money,” said Mr. Dershowitz, who was one of Mr. Epstein’s defense lawyers in the 2008 case.

Apparently the desperate efforts to silence Alan Dershowitz continue to fail quite spectacularly.

There’s a lot more, if you’re in the mood to vomit.

. . . This whole saga illustrates why it’s a horrible thing to let a tiny group of people accumulate wealth uncountable, which they can then use to bribe large swathes of the political and legal systems, the media, and the academic world.

It also illustrates the crying need for far more financial transparency. Where did Epstein get his money and where has it been going? There are many hints here that he’s some sort of grifting shakedown artist at the head of a largely phony financial empire, who also has a taste for blackmail and sexual assault.

Just imagine if someday things should get decadent enough for someone like Epstein to become president of the United States.

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