Lawrence Krauss Defends a Sex Offender, Embarrasses Scientists Everywhere

//UPDATE: Krauss has responded again . . . see the end of the post.//

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.

More than 30 underage victims were listed in the plea agreement, and if it is dismissed, Epstein will face more federal charges. These charges may be backed up by even more evidence discovered since his plea agreement, like a diary he kept that, according to victims’ attorneys, contained the names and details of many of the underage girls he paid for sex.

A few days ago The Daily Beast reported that Epstein’s high society friends are closing ranks around him in much the same way we saw high profile actors and others defend Roman Polanski despite the fact that the director admitted to drugging and raping a 13-year old girl.

One of the friends defending Epstein is none other than Professor Lawrence Krauss, famed physicist, writer, skeptic, former guest on my show The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, recent Pharyngula guest blogger, and upcoming speaker at JREF’s Amazing Meeting 9 in Las Vegas. And here’s the kicker: he’s invoking the name of science to do it.

“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.”

It’s bad enough when we hear the friends of prominent convicted criminals bemoan the trying time faced by their pals without a single word about their victims, but this is a bold new frontier in bullshit. If this were a science fair project, it would look like this:


Did Jeffrey Epstein Pay For Sex with Underage Girls?

My rich friend went to jail for paying for sex with underage girls, but he seems like such a nice friend and funder of scientific research.

Those girls were totally 18. At least!

I observed the subject (Jeffrey Epstein) for several hours over several days over the course of several years. I paid close attention to what girls he was with, and I guessed approximately how old each girl sort of looked. I assumed that whenever he was out of my sight, he was doing the same things he did in my presence.

All those girls I saw totally looked at least 18. Wait, let’s say 19 because “18” sounds a little too on-the-nose.

There is no way that the subject had sex with anyone under the age of 18.

Jeffrey Epstein should  be free from any further civil or criminal prosecution and hell, he should probably be given a humanitarian award for all the money he’s given to scientific research.


Krauss’ statement is extremely disturbing and makes scientists look like ignorant, biased fools who will twist data to suit their own needs. It’s great that a billionaire thought enough of scientific research to fund some of our best and brightest scientists, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. It doesn’t even mean he’s not a monster. Those scientists should have the rationality needed to separate their personal feelings from what the evidence shows us, and Krauss has publicly failed in that regard, bringing an enormous amount of embarrassment to scientists and critical thinkers everywhere.

When the Skepchicks received this tip, we wondered if the quote was taken out of context – after all, we all admire Krauss for his books, talks, and public outreach. So, I emailed Krauss to get his thoughts directly. He confirmed that the statement was accurate and sent this statement, which I’m printing as is, in full (see below edit for additional info):

yes it is.. Based on my direct experience with Jeffrey, which is all I can base my assessment on, he is a thoughtful, kind, considerate man who is generous to his friends, and all of the women I have known who have been associated with Jeffrey speak glowingly in the same words..

jeffrey apparently paid for massages with sex… I believe him when he told me he had no idea the girls were underage, and I doubt that people normally are asked for or present a driver’s license under such circumstances… Moreover, I also believe that Jeffrey is an easy target for those who want to take advantage of him… Moreover, I can say with great honesty that Jeffrey’s time in prison led him to seriously examine his life in very positive ways and I don’t believe in blanket condemnations of people. He served time for something that was determined was inappropriate. I honestly don’t know who was the victim in this case. probably everyone was a victim, with no happy resolution or consequences of these activities. I fully expect that these masseuses knew what they were doing, and were not swayed to do anything with Jeffrey that they were not already doing. That is not to approve of the whole behavior, but lots of peopleI know and like have behavior I don’t entirely approve of.. I know it is not politically correct to say that, because in general this is a very sensitive issue and all other things being equal one should take the side of the young women. But all things are not equal in this case, from my point of view. It is a judgement call, and I will not turn my back on a good friend so easily.

A few points:

Epstein didn’t pay for massages with sex, he was charged with and admitted to paying for massages and sex with underaged girls, with money.

Everyone here is not a victim. Epstein admitted to paying for sex with underaged girls and he served a ridiculously short sentence for it. That is not the definition of “victim.”

Many of these girls described being “recruited” by friends and by Epstein’s own aides and the modeling agency he funded. They were brought to his house where they were given money after sex. To say that they were already having sex for money goes in the face of the evidence we have.

Now I’m curious if the other scientists Epstein funded will publicly take a side: Stephen Hawking, Lisa Randall, Murray Gell-Mann, and Gerald Susskind are all named on Epstein’s science site. Let’s hope that if they do, they don’t let their personal interests sway their opinions.

Thanks to Billy Clyde Tuggle for sending in the tip.

//UPDATE: Krauss has emailed me to point out that I didn’t include a remark he made in an earlier email to me (prior to the statement I published). My apologies, as I assumed his second email was the full statement he wanted published. I’ve updated this post to add his first email, which now appears as the first paragraph of his statement prior to the ellipses.

He also wanted to add the following, which, again, I post as-is and in full:

I have read on the web claims of orgies on Jeffrey’s island during scientific meetings that I organized.. Orgies in which I was supposed to have been involved. This kind of nonsense has made me very skeptical of media reports on Jeffrey’s activities. Moreover, I am naturally skeptical by nature, and have looked in to a number of these supposed events, but am not going to share any details with you because I don’t think these are issues that are relevant to Jeffrey’s support of science, my scientific credentials etc.. or that I should discuss in public in any case… I will say however, that as a skeptic you might ask yourself whether there might be any motivation to potentially sue a billionaire with whom you may have been involved in one way or another… someone who might rather settle out of court for a large fee rather than have to deal with publicity, sleazy journalists etc? no, that never happens does it? Not very skeptical of you to wonder I think..

//UPDATE 2: Krauss is continuing to respond in the comments below under the username lmk2011. He’s confirmed to me that this is actually him.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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  1. So women finally get equal representation at TAM, and we get to share the stage with a dude who thinks that rape is sad when the real victim is your rich convicted rapist friend who had to be incarcerated. Incarcerated in a prison. Do you know what kind of people are in prison? RAPISTS! Like REAL rapists. Like the ones that have never even invited a physicist over to dinner even once.

  2. Note that this article was up for about 5 minutes without the response from Krauss. This was a mistake, and I updated the post as soon as possible. If you missed it, please go back and give it a read (the second piece of quoted text).

  3. Hmmm…the word of a man defending his friend (who also has financial ties to him) over the word of a legally recorded plea into the judiciary…

  4. This is extremely disappointing :/

    I’ve admired Krauss and enjoyed his advocacy of science and skepticism for a long time.

    But he’s obviously prone to the same biases as we all are. Invoking “science” to confirm said biases is an extreme low though.


  5. Shouldn’t a real skeptic be examining the merits of age of consent laws? You can’t deny that Krauss broke the law, but who can say what he did was morally wrong?

  6. This is a hard one to comment on without knowing the specific facts. The fact that he was convicted should be enough to find Krauss’ defending him very disgusting. However, if there is any truth to the claim that the ages were not known then that changes things. (coming from the stance that there is nothing wrong with paying for sex between consenting adults) If he’s a friend and your friend says he thought they were 19 and you believe him, then it is admirable to stand behind him. Although, an intelligent person should be able to tell the diff. between a 14 & 19 yr old just by talking to them. See?-this issue is not so black&white

  7. @red9: I approved your comment on the off-chance you’re not a brainless troll. I hope you prove me correct.

    Krauss did not break the law, there is no such thing as a “real skeptic” unless I suppose you want to count solipsists, and yes, I feel comfortable stating for the record that it is morally wrong to coerce a 13-year old girl to have sex with you for money.

  8. @mikekoz68: Not only did I give a fairly detailed overview of the facts of the case(s), but I also provided a litany of links you can use to further educate yourself. If you don’t feel you know enough to comment, then maybe you can wait until you have time to read them all before commenting.

  9. IANAL, but if Mr. Epstein was tried and convicted in a court of law with competent legal defense, then I conclude (with what evidence that is available, including the linked evidence) that he is guilty as charged. I really, really don’t like sweetheart deals and plea bargaining, though.

    I base my opinion on the above. I think Krause’s feelings of loyalty to his friend do him credit, but this is a terrible situation in which to show them. I think he’s wrong, but that’s just me. I also think he has severely damaged his own credibility and that will leak over to taint his work in the eyes of many. That may not be just, but it is true.

  10. @mikekoz68:

    “However, if there is any truth to the claim that the ages were not known then that changes things.”

    Hmm, I wonder how we would go about judging the truth of these claims? Should we publicly hash it out? Oh wait, I know!! How about a court of law, perhaps? Oh right, that’s already been done. The evidence was weighed and he was found guilty.

  11. The wider story has been in the news here for a while after an MP was reprimanded by the Commons’ Speaker for criticising prince Andrew’s friendship with Epstein. The media debate rage about whether Epstein was “technically” a paedophile (technically he isn’t). Few people bothered to point out that he is “technically” (and actually) a rapist. What is it about the idea that it’s wrong for adults to have sex with kids, regardless of the circumstances, that confuses people?

  12. “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.”

    When someone like Krauss writes a sentence this incoherent, I think that’s probably a sign there’s some serious cognitive dissonance going on.

  13. Krauss: “I fully expect that these masseuses knew what they were doing, and were not swayed to do anything with Jeffrey that they were not already doing. ”

    That was the part that icked me the most. The basic mentality behind it is “Come on, those girls knew what they were doing.” Maybe. But it’s still wrong for a grown man to have sex with a 13 year-old whether she knows what she’s doing or not. HE knew what HE was doing, too, and he’s the one with the accountability to the law.

    Second of all, the implication is “These girls were already tarnished…it’s not like he went and touched innocent girls.” Sorry again, but girls that age, experienced or no, are off limits. PERIOD. This is a throwback to the old belief that “Promiscuous girls can’t be raped.” an indefensible belief. It’s always wrong to engage in sex when you are a grown ass man, with anyone THAT under the age of consent, whether she was pristine, or a prostitute. The child’s prior activity doesn’t come into the equation.

    I’m disappointed with his defense of Epstein. I can’t afford to go to TAM this year, but if I could, I would not attend Krauss’s talk.

  14. While I can understand Krauss’ overzealous defense of a friend what clinches it for me is the restatement of that defense; of a convict; because he seems nice a funds nice stuff.

    The Catholic Church has funded hundrends, no thousands of beautiful works of art throughout the centuries; can’t we just look the other way on these pedophile priests?

    and the inquisition?

    and funding Hitler?

    I mean, haven’t they suffered enough?


  15. @Kammy: Frankly, it doesn’t even matter. In this situation, he is required to make damned certain. Even if he assumed they were of age, that is no defense as he was already engaging in an illicit activity. He compounded criminal behavior by a) actively seeking out underage girls (which is likelier, since the trafficking seemed to systematized to suggest otherwise) b) actively ignoring the issue of age or c) ignoring his responsibility to insure that he was not committing the more serious offense of sexual trafficking of a minor.

    It’s similar to someone buying retail products out of the “back of a truck” in some alley claiming that they did not know the merchandise was stolen.

  16. @Kammy: Actually, there was no trial, and he was not convicted. He took a plea agreement.

    After reading the details of the various news articles, it appears that he believed that all the women were 18 (See the New York Post article). In some cases, he sexually assaulted some women and raped them (and I mean sex-against-their-will, not statutory rape, the former of which is somewhat worse, although it was also statutory rape).

    The ultimate question is whether he knew they were under 18 at the time, and there is good evidence to say that he did not. That does not mean that he isn’t a scumbag for paying for sex, but it changes the level of scumbaggery.

  17. @godfreydaniel: “What is it about the idea that it’s wrong for adults to have sex with kids, regardless of the circumstances, that confuses people?”

    There’s plenty to be confused about! An 18 year old having sex with a 17 year and 364 day and 23 hour old, for example, should be perfectly fine. Determining when a person becomes an adult capable of making adult decisions isn’t exactly easy to determine. It sure as hell doesn’t happen precisely on everyone’s 18th birthday.

    Pretending there’s isn’t a grey area so you can get a few cheers is just lazy thinking and demagoguery.

  18. @scribe999:

    I agree completely.

    The commenter to whom I was replying was attempting to muddy the waters by asking “How can we know the truth of these claims?” the answer is generally we need some objective way to weigh the evidence. I was smarcastically arguing that that’s what a court of law is for.

    Smarcasm is how I keep my head from assploding sometimes. :)

  19. Hi there!

    I’ve always wanted to go to TAM! For a long time, I’ve considered working really hard on some kind of research project involving skepticism. I can’t afford to ATTEND, so the only way I’ll get there is if I’m a paid guest. That means a lot of hard work and effort. I have a full time job, I don’t know if I have time for all that.

    But now I’ve found a real purpose! I’ve found a good reason to be at TAM. I’ve found something I can do. Something POSITIVE for the skeptical community!

    Invite me to TAM, pay for my room and airfare, set me up on a panel with Krauss, and I will DROP that homeboy like a sack of wet newspapers. I mean, it’s the least I can do for the skeptical community, and I am after all, from New Jersey. This guy needs a real good sock in the law.

    (I might also need y’all to pick up my legal fees afterward) [nods]

  20. “That is not to approve of the whole behavior, but lots of people I know and like have behavior I don’t entirely approve of.. ”

    One has to wonder what kind of things the people he knows and likes are doing that he’s ok with this and just how horrible something has to be before he will no longer associate with them. If having sex with 13 and 14 year olds isn’t bad enough for him to disassociate himself from someone, what is ?

  21. “Krauss’ statement is extremely disturbing and makes scientists look like ignorant, biased fools who will twist data to suit their own needs.”

    Scientists are. That is why it is so important that other scientists validate their work. We can test Krauss’ hypothesis and find it to be untrue thus demonstrating that he is wrong about his friend.

    I do find it amazing how wealthy people think it’s OK for other wealthy people to have sex with 13 year olds. If Epstein’s yearly income was $28,000 I bet they would have a different opinion. Or if the 13 year old girl was their daughter.

  22. Drawing upon my law degrees from Google State and Dick Wolf University, there’s a concept known as “depraved indifference” where someone can and should be convicted of a crime when their behavior is so beyond the pale that they deserve a higher punishment. You know, like creating a situation where you have barely plausible deniability while committing statutory rape over and over again. It isn’t like one 16 year old slipped through the cracks with a really good fake ID.

    But regardless of the age of his victims, Jeffrey Epstein certainly appears to be a sexual predator/serial rapist. The fact that he has tons of cash and wealthy/famous friends doesn’t mitigate what he did, and he should be rotting in jail for decades, not months.

  23. “The ultimate question is whether he knew they were under 18 at the time, and there is good evidence to say that he did not.”

    As the father of a teenage girl, I’m sorry but if you are claiming that you couldn’t tell that a 13 year old girl was not 18 then you are full of shit.

  24. Sure, Krauss responded spinelessly, sticking up for the man who funds his research. But were any of us expecting anything but spinelessness? He’s certainly not the most stoic public figure in the world of science. When he debated WL Craig he was a nervous, rambling wreck: the kind of person you know you could get to say anything you want him to with enough pressure. I’m not surprised he took the low road on this one.

    However, I would caution against any sort of censure against him. Keep in mind he’s a brilliant physicist, and no matter how much ass-kissing he does, his personal views do not affect his scientific work. I would hate to lose his voice in the skeptic community just because he’s skeptical of the motives of a mob of minor prostitutes.

    Yeah, this guy is guilty, and, yeah, Krauss is spineless, but can we please get back to doing science now?

  25. “Shouldn’t a real skeptic be examining the merits of age of consent laws? You can’t deny that Krauss broke the law, but who can say what he did was morally wrong?”

    OK, so how young before it’s immoral? 8? 5? 6 months?

  26. @corydon76: @corydon76: The New York Post article offered psychological profiling (no citation as to who performed it) and a polygraph…two red flags that they were working on the presumption of his ignorance to begin with. Multiple affidavits and testimony and recent allegations coming from the original prosecutors regarding what might, charitably be called witness tampering, intimidation and unethical behavior on the part of the defense attorneys, suggests the opposite of what you conclude.

  27. Gah this makes me sick. I have a copy of Krauss’s book here on my desk that I started reading yesterday. I was looking forward to meeting him at the American Atheist convention in a few weeks.

    I could understand someone being a bit (or a lot) in denial for a friend. Denial would be mean thinking the guy is innocent, which was all he was doing originally. Rebecca is correct to ridicule him for it, however it is just part of the human condition I think.

    Then he dug himself a big hole with that email. Questioning who the victim is when 14 year old girls are being coerced into sex? Pulling out the PC card? wth is that? The man ran a transatlantic sex ring for crying out loud!

  28. Good Scientist does not equal Decent Human Being.
    Decent Human Being does not equal Always Right.
    So I’m seeing a Good Scientist who may or may not be a Decent Human Being doing the wrong thing by defending a rapist.
    It’s sad, not altogether surprising.
    I will throw in that I would normally expect better analysis from someone who identifies as a Skeptic, though.

  29. As for the criminal and horrific actions of Mr. Epstein, revulsion is the mildest way to express my feelings for a man who systematically ensured he was provided with exploitable young girls as often as twice or three times daily. We can quibble over the immorality of a young couple where one partner is 18 and the other is 17, but I can’t imagine anyone with serious thought seeing this as comparable to a middle aged billionaire using his power to coerce girls into sexual acts. Epstein cannot truly insist that he had no idea that the steady stream of emotionally and physically maturing girls were not adult women and expect us to believe.

    This is a man who got not only preferred the pubescent forms of young girls, but had to enjoy the power imbalance in such a relationship as well. (Even the descriptions of how these “massage sessions” played out deal in the stuff of a scripted power-play fantasy.) Young adult women certainly are not always confident enough to refuse coercion to sex; how much more intimidating and contemptible are the pressures on young girls?

    That he can be defended by fellow wealthy entitled assholes, and essentially given a pass by the legal system (13 MONTHS, are you fucking kidding, what judge would agree to that plea deal?! Why wasn’t this thrown out?) is unconscionable. It is more despicable to me that Krass is able to deceive himself that the actions of his wealthy friend can be seen in any light but evil; no one who purports to thing logically and scientifically should be able to characterize Epstein as a victim. I fear that attitudes about the appropriate sexual partners for the super-wealthy men among us play into the ease with which Epstein’s conduct has been excused. If it’s simply normal for rich and powerful men to continue trading for a new pretty 20-something, how can it be much more exploitative for a man to want to pursue young teenagers?

    Excuse me while I go vomit.

  30. I’d love to see Carol Tavris use Krauss as an example of cognitive dissonance at TAM9.

    What’s so hard about saying, “I still consider the man a personal friend, I have the utmost respect for him on both a personal and professional level, I think he’s provided massive value to the scientific community, and I’m disappointed in the choices and mistakes he made. He will continue to be my friend, as I feel he deserves my support despite his transgressions and I feel he has received the punishment he was due.”? Seems like a simple and reasonable way to handle it, although probably still pretty soft-handed, and I’m not suggesting that *I* think his sentence was sufficient, but I’m cutting Krauss wiggle room due to the friendship. I have friends who have built up a high enough degree of friendship and credit with me that I would remain friends with them, at least to some degree, despite various levels of transgression depending upon the person, and especially if they got their due punishment. But that wouldn’t/shouldn’t prevent me from accepting and admitting that they did something very wrong.

    It sounds to me like Epstein has, indeed, been very valuable to science and is probably in many ways “one helluva a guy,” while also being a disgusting pig (disservice to pigs) who pays people to coerce underage girls to have sex with him for money. He can be both, and seems to be. Very unfortunate, and now that that’s out it would probably be in everyone’s best interest to distance themselves from further financial contributions from him. Which means in the end he hurt both himself AND the science he supported.

  31. I think I see where Krauss is coming from here.

    I don’t know the first thing about the Jeffrey Epstein situation, but I think in general that:

    1) age of consent laws should be looked at more skeptically,

    2) prostitution is not necessarily a bad thing, and

    2) that based on my own personal experience of sexual activity when I was under the age of 18 with people who were over that age (I initiated the contact, and did not reveal my age at the time) that some guy paying for a massage with a happy ending from someone he says that he thought was over 18 seems at least plausible.

    Age 13 is below the age of consent in my book, but 16 or 17 isn’t necessarily so. But I don’t read Krauss as in any way defending sex with a 13 or 14 year old girl. And I certainly don’t think he has embarrassed scientists everywhere, even if he may have in retrospect wished he kept his opinion of the matter to himself.

    In any case, the issue doesn’t appear to me to be as black and white as Watson’s post seems to argue.

  32. How disappointing. I liked Krauss. As someone already said above, such attitudes towards rape are the product of the sense of entitlement that some segments of society have in great quantities. It is unfortunate that some scientists are in this category, so divorced from the troubles of those not like them that they are incapable of seeing their cognitive biases when it is morally required of them to empathize.

  33. Hallo,
    i dont know how science could evaluate, if someone said/did something on purpose. (scientific lie-detector??) Dont know what the legislation says, but isnt the bureau for visa and the model agency responsible for checking the age of the girls, who are working in the usa?

  34. @Rebecca Watson:

    When I stated it was hard to comment without knowing specific facts, I meant just that. You call what you gave a “detailed overview” of the facts? I don’t think so and clicking on the links won’t get to the real issue of whether or not Krauss believed his friend knowingly had sex with minors. That Epstein did something wrong is not in question, its whether Krauss is justified in being skeptical and standing behind his friend, thats the non black/white issue. Krauss is closer to the story than us commenting and we are not privy to his knowledge, thats why its a hard one to comment on. One does not have to read every book on a subject before being able to comment on it

  35. @mikekoz68: So do you mean that you think Krauss has access to some knowledge of Epstein’s innocence, which he’s keeping from us, the rest of the media, and Epstein’s defense lawyers? Because I’m not seeing anything to suggest that there is any evidence anywhere in Epstein’s favor. Do you?

    @DJGrothe: As I mentioned above, if you “don’t know the first thing about the Jeffrey Epstein situation,” there are plenty of facts in the OP backed up by evidence, plus plenty of links for further reading. You may want to read up on it a bit before commenting, since your defense of Epstein doesn’t fit the facts (eg, the girls did not initiate contact, it was not simply a massage with a happy ending, etc etc).

    Also, nowhere did I write or suggest that Krauss was defending sex with a 13-year old. He is defending a man who paid for sex with a 13-year old and calling him a victim.

  36. Oh, and the punishment that Epstein went through is even worse than I thought if the Daily Beast article from March 25th is correct.

    They’re reporting that the 13 month sentence was served at a low security facility that allowed Epstein “a 16-hour-per-day free pass to leave the
    premises for work.”

    Source: http://goo.gl/FAlZT

  37. @slignot:

    They’re reporting that the 13 month sentence was served at a low security facility that allowed Epstein “a 16-hour-per-day free pass to leave the
    premises for work.”

    Yep. And the man who stole Epstein’s diary and hid it from prosecutors was given 18 months in prison . . . more than Epstein served.

  38. @Rebecca Watson:
    Oddly, I’m not surprised by a comparatively poor man being treated more harshly than the rich employer in his prosecution. I almost expected that.

    What stunned me was that not only was his term insulting, he functionally didn’t even serve that time. I feel so valued as a woman in this country today.

  39. @46 and tried to sell the diary for 50k. And was probably involved with the sex trafficking. And maybe had the evidence that could’ve put Epstein behind bars without a sweetheart deal. Lets not shed too many tears for that guy.

  40. Hallo, power of science: Differentiate the knowable from the unknowable. Can scientific lie-detector help?? I guess no.
    Who got the main responsiblity of sex actions of underage girls? Institutions, business (Visa-bureau, model agency or parents and sexvictims). These cases are always delicate, because its about sex and about truth.

  41. This is sad and slightly disgusting. If you want to ensure you keep getting money from this guy then just say…..”I won’t comment on this situation”
    Don’t make some half assed excuse about how its not really that bad. Epstein was living a life as an open pedo being sheltered by money and power.

  42. I think those bringing up the morality of prostitution and age of consent are missing a central point about these type of situations – it is not always, if it ever is, just about sex. It’s about power. Specifically, the abuse of it. And if there ever were a situation that illustrates this point, this is it.

  43. wow. Well, I know that age of consent is iffy here, but if these girls (or teenagers) travelled to the US from Europe (and I’m thinking Eastern Europe) the odds are their parents knew about this. These were girls being pimped out by their parents? Or were these girls far away from home thinking they were taking part in a modelling job or what? Frankly, there is a difference between a young girl agreeing to sex (and let’s say 16 here) and a young girl’s parents agreeing to her having sex. These weren’t teenagers he met while working at the modelling agency he runs, or say at a party. These were teenagers that didn’t just wake up one day and say “wow, now that I’m 14…but sure look 18…but hey who is going to look at my passport… I want to fly to the US and have sex with an older man because that is what really turns me on.” So the 14 year old goes down to the airport and buys a ticket and flies to the US…I think not. Some place in this scenario, adults over 18 were involved. Some place these young girls were taken advantage of by various adults in their lives. That’s the problem here. As a society we need to protect young men and women from this sort of exploitation as “property” by the adults in their lives. If a 16 year old chooses to sleep with someone, that’s a whole other kettle of fish than a 14 year old sent over from Easter Europe by a family or procurer wanting to cash in. by using her as a commodity. People aren’t property. This smacks to me of slavery, not sex. And the international sex trade in children is not something that should ever be defended.

    My one neighbor still plays golf with the man that served time for beating his wife so badly she ended up in the hospital. Yeah the wife beater (who is also his accountant), served time. Now does my neighbor defend what his friend did? Does he try to find excuses? Does he go “well it wasn’t as bad as people are saying…” No. He is “this man is still my friend and I enjoy playing golf with him. But what he did was wrong.”

    That is being a friend. You can seperate the behavior. No person is totaly a demon. Heck, even Hitler was a dog lover.

    But there is a HUGE difference between the need for legal safe protitution and consentual sex between two people, and sending off to Europe for an underage sex slave. I’m more than willing to bet that the money did NOT go into the pockets of these girls for more than a few minutes. The money went to the people that control thiese young teens. They didn’t go out and get an apartment and have a spa day. Someone else though enjoyed the fruits of their labor. Slavery is alive and well, and ask people involved in trying to help these young teens (both males and females). It’s very very sad.

  44. @Somite:

    If you read the quote in the original entry, Krauss made a lame attempt to refute the claim that Epstein paid for sex with underage girls via ’empirical evidence’. It’s a worthwhile skeptical activity to criticize that argument on both its inherent pathetic-ness and the way it makes scientists look like tools to the public.

    Of course, the latter isn’t Krauss’s fault (he should only be able to make himself look like a tool, not scientists in general), but it seems likely to happen anyway.

    Also, this isn’t just a skepticism blog, but also a feminist blog. So it’s a pretty on-point topic. I am disappointed in Krauss, not so much for defending his friend, but because of the way he is doing so. If he wants to pretend to be scientific about it, then he is doing poor service to us all.

  45. Epstein is my good friend / donor.
    I would not be friends with / accept money from a heinous pedophile.
    Therefore, what Epstein did was not as bad as that—It was a misunderstanding. Yeah, I’ll believe that.

    @TurboFool: ^ is exactly what I was thinking as I read this blog: cognitive dissonance at its worst. It’s perfectly human, even if it is wrong in this case.

    The problem with putting anyone on a pedestal is that they will eventually come off—in some cases by swan dive. And even while we can say, “Yes, yes, everyone is human; of course, no one’s infallible,” it’s still a shock to see the people we admire so much blast craters into our schemas.

    I think if my current hero in academia and skepticism pulled something like this, I’d be inclined to hunt him down at a conference, punch him in the face, and walk away. It would take me a while to blog calmly about it—I’d be too pissed off for a while after the fact.

  46. There have been a few jokey references to violence in the comments, and I’d like to ask that we not continue with that sort of thinking. I know that we’re discussing something incredibly upsetting, but violence isn’t a healthy response.

  47. Clarification: I’d feel like it, but I’d never go through with it. -_- I’d go punch a unicorn instead . . . if I ever found one.

    I should hope (expect??) that no one here would take such jokes seriously, but you never know. My apologies, Rebecca.

  48. I’m very disappointed in Krauss.
    I’m sure there must be a lot of allure to keeping in the good graces of a billionaire. The evidence that made it to the newspapers – not the hypothetical evidence that a billionaire was able to suppress – is pretty damning. For Krauss to ignore that and assume that because he’d only seen Epstein with 18-20 year olds that Epstein only had dalliances with similarly aged girls is quite a leap.

    Of course the obvious conclusion would be that Krauss doesn’t want to offend a billionaire investor. I think one could stay silent and achieve the same results.

    If, on the other hand, Krauss thought that by showing his loyalty to his friend he might convince others of Epstein’s innocence? Well, that does not seem to be working right now. I’ve seen no evidence that anyone has looked at Epstein’s crimes, read Krauss’s defense and concluded that the poor rich bastard was a victim.

  49. Scientists are not infallible. Here is an example of one who lost his sense of honor, at least momentarily, and illustrates why what they say can never be taken at face value. Peer review keeps scientists (and everyone else) honest.

    Can we send Epstein back to prison now? I wish!

  50. I’m at the point where when this guy gets up to talk, I’ll take a walk. I mean, frankly, am I going to be able to listen to what he says uncritically… or will I be influenced by what I know about him? I’m not blindly going to accept what someone who is so peculiar in his scientific reasoning without some prejudice. See, what people say and do does influence how one feels about them. I don’t feel so good about him anymore.

  51. Since one can’t look to science for moral guidance, one certainly can’t look to scientists for it.
    Feet of clay and all that.

  52. The cognitive dissonance is disgusting and it’s especially saddening that it’s someone a lot of us liked (or liked) and respected as a thinker.

    It’s too bad that so many people feel that defending their friends is a better expression of friendship than confronting them and telling them “you’re wrong, I’m not going to stand for this BECAUSE I’m your friend.”

    Whatever the reason for the cognitive dissonance (Epstein’s power? money? charisma? any number of relationship dynamics) outside observers can see how wrong Krauss is and how absurd his defense of Epstein is. Hopefully that means there’s a chance Krauss can change his mind/apologize/something!

    PZ has a great post on it imo. I don’t ever want my friends to rationalize my bad behaviors, and if they’re as heinous as Epstein’s I think that would be more reason for me to speak up against them, not rationalize them.

  53. Too many good comments here to congratulate. Most people are right on the money.

    This is indefensible behavior of Krauss. Even Voltaire´s Candide couldn´t have spun this.

    I hope Krauss sees the error of his ways. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable scientist and a skeptic. I mean I can´t see how any credible skeptic convention could invite him to participate now. I at least would not attend such a meeting.

    People have already explained how this defence of Krauss is wrong but I would like to add another detail. He says it is not certain that the pedophile (the courts have spoken, so he is) knew how old the girls were. Sometimes not knowing is not a defence. He SHOULD have known.

    Buying “borderline” legal girls as sex slaves? You SHOULD be FUCKING concerned!

    This is indefensible Krauss. Shame on you.

  54. If a person presumes the mantle or being rational and reasonable, yet persists in maintaining and defending a relationship with a person who has admitted to committing serial acts of child rape that any reasonable person would find abhorrent should begin to be treated in a similar manner as his sex offender friend. Reasonable and rational people need to start eschewing the company of a person with such flawed judgment and no longer allow their children to play near his front yard given who may be coming over for tea.

    @DJGrothe: ” I think I see where Krauss is coming from here. “
    I don’t think you have a clue.

  55. @Trausti: PS One final thought.
    This is clearly an ad hominem of sorts (right?). Me not wanting to go to meetings with Krauss because of this despicable behavior. Is that wrong? Does it not matter in the least how much of a dick a person is if what she is saying on a particular subject is correct?

    Would we invite a serial killer to Skepticon? How about a tax fraud? Is there a line?

  56. @kittynh

    I too am thoroughly disgusted with Krauss, but let’s remember that his credentials as a scientist have not changed.
    His credentials as a skeptic, on the other hand, may have taken a massive blow.

    Part of what is happening here, I think, is something I have noted to myself. As humans, we like to believe that the people that we like and respect are like us; think like us; act like us. And when that is found to be false it can be disheartening and somewhat confusing.

    I felt a similar way when Mel Gibson’s bigotry was revealed, Victoria Jackon’s crazy fundie root came out, and when Adam Baldwin started attacking AGW.
    I know these people are entertainers not scientist, but they are just examples of how we have trouble dealing with expectations that aren’t met.

    I recently found out that Peter Falk is a truther; it pains me to feel less highly of Columbo, but sadly I do.

    I aslo feel less highly of Mr. Krauss.

  57. There’s a great PennSays ep (that I cannot for the life of me find right now) wherein Penn talks about a time when a friend/hired hand of his needed a job after his incarceration. I don’t remember all of the details, but the charges were sexual in nature, and because of his record, he was having great trouble finding work.

    I got the impression (again, can’t find the video, so relying on memory here) that Penn felt he had to turn him down. The video itself was Penn’s admission of his own conflicting feelings: he didn’t want to put his friend in a sort of double jeopardy by refusing him work on the grounds of his previous crimes for which he had already served, and yet the severity of those crimes, as well as society’s view of him creates an issue of guilt-by-association.

    I’d hoped to find the vid and post it here (and if anyone can find it, let me know—I’d like to see it again). The situations are VERY different, but I think it’s worth knowing about another perspective on the subject, and perhaps in a small way, how Krauss might have begun the descent down the pyramid (to reference Tarvis).

  58. @Trausti

    It’s not an ad hominum. That would be saying he is an asshole therefore he is wrong.

    Not wanting to be it the room with the defender of a child rapist is called simple decency.

    Perhaps Mr. Krauss and Pope Bennie should share notes on how best to defend the defenseless.

  59. It’s a minor point, but I think you are misreading Krauss’ response. When K says “jeffrey apparently paid for massages with sex…” he does not mean that sex was exchanged for a massage. What K is saying is that J paid for massages that _included_ sex, like saying “J apparently paid for hamburgers with cheese…” would mean that J bought cheeseburgers, not that he exchanged cheddar (the cheese) for plain burgers.

    Upon reflection, that reading actually makes K look worse, because K is saying that J was paying real cheddar for sex. And unless J lives in Nevada, there’s no way to slice that as legal.

  60. @mrmisconception: To me the human equation is primary to any scientific one. If you play with dog shit don’t be surprised if people don’t want to sit close to you no matter how many fascinating and correct things you have to say about the universe.

  61. @tomp: Honestly, in my boarding school days, there was indeed a 13 year old girl, who looked 18, told a fellow student she was 18, he believed her, they had sex, and he was later deported back to his native country, Saudi Arabia, where he faced the death penalty for having sex with a girl that young. So yes, I believe that there are young teenagers (not all, but some) who do look 18.

    Incidentally, the girl was one who was sent to that boarding school because she was dating a guy in his 20s, her parents did not approve, and this act was her way of demonstrating to her parents that she was going to have sex with older men, no matter what they tried to do with her.

    That’s not to say that I condone a man in his 40s having sex with teenagers. He probably should have checked IDs if he had any doubts, but when was the last time that you checked the ID of a person before you had sex with them? Be honest. I personally have never checked an ID. Perhaps I should. And I’m also pretty sure that I’ve never have sex with anybody illegally (if they were under 18, I was so close in age that it was still legal).

    Yes, I’ve had sex with people who I’d never seen before they showed up on my doorstep or I on theirs. No, I’ve never paid anybody for sex. So my experience is perhaps close to his, except that I have not been made aware that anybody with whom I have had sex in the past was under the age of consent. Compare your own sexual history and verify that you can say with certainty that you’ve never had sex with somebody under the age of 18, and I mean that you’ve seen their ID, and you’ve verified that their ID was not fake.

  62. I don’t know why, since it happens every goddamn time, but I still get shocked, appalled and then depressed at how often men I respect and admire IMMEDIATELY turn into rape-apologists the second it becomes convenient to them.

    I guess Dworkin was ultimately right, after all.

  63. well and thinking of TAM, maybe someone should ask him to clarify or some such before attending. I’m feeling a little ill at the thought of this person being a part of something I hold so dear. Seriously, I defend his right to say whatever he wants. But freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech. If his friendship with convicted sex crime rich guy really means enough for him to defend the man and say he is a “victim” then he should be fine with the fallout. When you stand up for your friends, you have to pay a price. So no whining by Krauss at people reacting to his comments. But I have a feeling he’s not going to be hurting for funding anytime in the future!

  64. A quick and easy way not to accidentally have sex with underage prostitutes is not to have sex with teenage prostitutes, no matter what they tell you. A quick and easy way not to be a rapist is not to have sex with women that are far away from home in a foreign country and are sex workers working out of brothels. The chance of coercion is like 95%.

  65. PZ has an opinion on this matter that seems the appropiate response:

    I have a request to all of you. Some of you hate me, so you’d enjoy this, but it’s more important that those of you who have a mild and distant affection for me take a stand, too. If, sometime in the future, when the billions of dollars role in, if you learn that I’m flying in children for sex, I don’t want you to defend me. Don’t use friendship as an excuse, just come out loud and clear and denounce my behavior, with no qualifiers. Please. There aren’t any justifications or rationalizations possible.


  66. I hope Krauss will come to his senses soon and admit his mistake. Scientists make mistakes but a fundamental attribute of a good scientist or skeptic is acknowledging personal error and correcting it.

  67. I hate Krauss’ response. In no way was Epstein a victim. He pleaded guilty to paying for sex. It is a crime and he knew he was breaking the law.

    As to Epstein getting off too lightly: his punishment was in line with what he was charged with. Eighteen months for one count of solicitation, first offense, sounds about right to me. If there is blame here it goes to the Grand Jury that returned only this wimpy indictment or to the prosecutor who failed to make a better case to the Grand Jury.

    I think there is something deeply creepy about wanting sex with someone who is a fraction of your age. Legal or not legal such a person would not be a friend of mine, and I would not defend their actions.

  68. @corydon76: Far be it from me to condemn a one-night stand! There is nothing at all wrong with casual sex. But if you’re having a fling with someone who is even close to looking like they may be too young to legally consent to what you are doing, then check your shit.

    There’s really no excuse for accidentally paying for sex with 30+ underage girls.

  69. @Rebecca Watson: You said he was ‘failing to be skeptical.’ Agreed. For example it would have been okay (from a purely skeptical point of view) to say “He’s my friend, he made a huge mistake that I do not condone, and you may think of him as a scumbag, but he’s still my friend.” Right? That is a perfect legit, if not comforting answer. The ‘not being skeptical’ part is that instead he is rationalizing and suffering some cognitive dissonance (even dipping into some conspiracy theory), correct? Skepticism has nothing to do with morality. Or who you choose as your friends. But it does have everything to do with how you present your argument. Yes?

  70. @scribe999: Do you have a citation for the witness tampering? I’ve looked for reports of such, but all that I can find are reports of tampering in the reverse: that police bungled the investigation time after time, and the DA’s office eventually had to rely on private investigators to get a clear story.

  71. I will add one remark here, as most people have not read my full set of comments, posted after the post appeared.. I am myself rather disappointed by the lack of skepticality of this community. As I said, I have read numerous reports of orgies on Jeffrey’s island involving me and other scientists during our meetings.. Orgies that never happened, I am VERY skeptical of other claims on his behavior. I am defending Jeffrey for 2 reasons: (1) Based on my knowledge and experience I am skeptical of the claims in the media and of those who have settled claims for money… namely I don’t believe the published details just like I tend to be skeptical of many published details on the internet.. I don’t believe Jeffrey did what has been claimed, and unless I see hard evidence, I will trust my own judgement here, and (2) Jeffrey went to prison, and I happen to believe that having served time, even those who questioned his behavior should be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, again until proved otherwise, that he is working hard to live a good life and do good things. I for one am disgusted that people eat up the salacious nonsense the read on the web and then jump to conclusions about things and people they do not know.. I do not jump to condemn people, especially when it concerns their sexual preferences. I DO NOT CONDONE sex with young girls, or young boys for that matter.. because there are real victims there.. Until I know all the facts however, I do not jump to conclusions, and I am sorry, having seen the media frenzy around Jeffrey, and having seen the shoddy behavior of those who have attacked him, I remain skeptical, and I support a man whose character I believe I know.. If you want to condemn me for that, so be it.

    L. Krauss

  72. @Jeff: Skepticism has nothing to do with morality.

    I don’t think I could agree with this statement. Skepticism would keep a would-be zealot from participating in a suicide bombing (as an extreme example). Skepticism keeps us from jumping to conclusions on our own emotional premises. It’s part of understanding the truth of a situation, which is inseparable from ethical decision making.

  73. @MarianLibrarian: While it’s known that at least one of the girls was as young as 13, the ages varied across the scale, and there were women who were legitimately over 18 at the time they had sex with Epstein. If they were all 13, then yes, I would agree with your point. But the facts are otherwise. Please read the actual news reports before you form an opinion!

  74. This reminds me of a man I worked with a public access station. He was very nice and extremely religious. He was a cartoonist who also produced a kids show. We only knew him as a lovable person.

    Then he was arrested and charged with murder. We found out that he went to another city to pick up his wife, who was living with a boyfriend. As they were leaving, they got into a fight and my friend shot and killed him.

    We were all in shock, but it just goes to show that you can’t always tell if someone is a criminal, or able to commit a shocking crime.

  75. Ever notice how Jeffrey Epstein, Silvio Berlusconi, Joey Buttafuco, they all fit this thick-necked, macho, viagra commercial archetype? Or, more succinctly, “douchebags.”

  76. @corydon76: I did read the facts. I realize I worded that badly, but I was not claiming that every girl or woman involved was exactly 13. But a great deal of them were underage, and I find it hard to believe that Epstein or his aides all believed that all of the underage girls were over 18.

  77. @rlquinn1980: That’s taking me literally. And those things are not skeptical IMO, they are just good ideas for humans to all get along. :) In my experience scientific skepticism stays away from deciding what is or is not ‘moral’. My point is Krauss’ stance from a skeptical point of view is untenable as it makes excuses for his defense of his friend rather than simply admitting “Say what you will, he is still my friend.” JMO Cheers

  78. “I am myself rather disappointed by the lack of skepticality of this community.”

    Translation: I am myself rather disappointed by the lack of unconditional, knee-jerk acceptance of my rape-apologetics. I totally don’t support rape, just rapists, if they’re my friends and they pay me.

  79. Wow. So he doubles down on this “I’m a scientist, therefore I must ignore the evidence and postulate a vast conspiracy” stance. Oh, and even whips out a bit of “skeptical of the skeptics” to boot.

    Hey Krauss. That’s how creationists talk, buddy.

  80. “I will say however, that as a skeptic you might ask yourself whether there might be any motivation to potentially sue a billionaire with whom you may have been involved in one way or another”

    Further translation: bitchez lie about rape for money – ALL THE TIME!!!

  81. @lmk2011

    I would say that the “until I see all the facts” line is something of a problem. There are enough facts to know that he engaged in sex with underage women.

    No one wants you to disassociate yourself from your friend, or label him in one way or another.

    The problem is that you are willing to dismiss clear evidence of some bad behavior as not a problem either because there is evidence that some women weren’t underage or because he didn’t know they were underage or because (and this is arguably the worst one) you believe you know this man’s character.

    I will stick to PZ’s perspective here, I share it entirely – I wouldn’t want a friend to defend my transgressions with any of the qualifiers you have chosen here or elsewhere. Perhaps you have privately told him that you condemn the particular behaviors that are abhorrent.

    In public however your statements amount to a defense of statutory rape. It’s a tough issue, no doubt, when a friend may have committed such a transgression but is also being accused of more than what he actually did. That does not excuse the idea that Epstein is somehow the victim in all of this and it’s abhorrent to see you use the “he didn’t know they were below 18” excuse.

    It can be true that there is a perception that he had sex with nothing but underage girls, or that he knew they were underage and it can be true that these perceptions are incorrect. However there’s more than enough evidence to condemn him for his treatment of women.

    I also agree with gypsy – you’re employing the women lie about rape for money defense and it’s despicable here.

    Again, PZ’s right, you’re wrong. You have a friend who’s a douchebag. Being his friend does not require you to defend everything about him and in doing so end up defending statutory rape, abuse of women and rapist behaviors and rationalizations.

  82. I did a little searching and I can’t find these supposed “numerous reports of orgies on Jeffrey’s island involving me and other scientists during our meetings” that Krauss uses to cast doubt on all the criminal claims. Does anyone have links that back up his claim?

    I found a couple claims like this from disreputable blogs and tabloids, but not from mainstream media sources like Krauss is claiming. I may just be missing them, but it appears that Krauss is saying we can’t trust the mainstream media reports, Epstein’s own journal or servants, the police, private investigators, the Government, or the other numerous witnesses because a couple obscure blogs incorrectly reported that orgies were going on. You really can’t be skeptical and honestly think that a couple inaccurate tabloid stories are evidence for a massive conspiracy theory. And Krauss claims to be a skeptic?

  83. I wish people would stop calling this statutory rape. Sex trafficking 13 year old girls from poor countries is modern day slavery and child molestation/rape.

  84. @melodyh

    You’re right, I fell into the trap of being too lenient in an unreasonable effort to find common ground and should have reviewed my comments more closely before submitting them. I should not call it merely statutory rape as that’s a euphemism here. It is indeed child molestation and rape.

  85. @corydon76:


    When the Palm Beach police started to identify victims, according to Detective Joe Recarey’s report, Dershowitz began sending the detective Facebook and MySpace posts to demonstrate that some of these girls were no angels. Reiter’s deposition also states that he heard from local private investigators that Dershowitz had launched background checks on both the police chief and Det. Recarey. Dershowitz denies all of that. According to Reiter, both he and Recarey also became aware that they were under surveillance for several months, without knowing who ordered it. And the Florida victims began to complain that they and family members were being followed and intimidated by private investigators who were then linked to local attorneys in Epstein’s employ. In one reported instance, the private investigator claimed to be a police officer, and Reiter considered filing witness-tampering charges.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-03-25/jeffrey-epstein-how-the-billionaire-pedophile-got-off-easy/ harassing the federal prosecution with private investigations and threatening that their prosecution “might be the subject of a book if we (Acosta) continued.” Billionaire status buys you a lot of justice, such as getting of taking a third-party psych exam for evaluation of his proclivities as a sex offender:

    The Daily Beast has now discovered another instance in which Epstein apparently received special consideration: As a convicted sex offender, he is required by law to undergo an impartial psychological evaluation prior to sentencing and to receive psychiatric treatment during and after incarceration. This is because child molesters tend to be repeat offenders with high rates of recidivism. According to a source in law enforcement, however, Epstein was allowed to submit a report by his private psychologist, Dr. Stephen Alexander of Palm Beach, Florida, whose phone has since been disconnected with no forwarding information.

    As for “If they were all 13, then yes, I would agree with your point. But the facts are otherwise. Please read the actual news reports before you form an opinion!”

    Yes, read more reports…allegations include:


    “Three 12-year-old girls brought over from France as a birthday gift”, and many other girls brought in from, unsurprisingly disadvantaged areas of the world, Eastern Europe, Russia and South America.

    The STATE attorney initially softballed him, which is why Federal prosecutors took over. They accepted the plea prior to additional alleged victims and documents came forward (which is why this issue is being investigated yet again) because they were getting hammered by the same team that defended O.J. Simpson and investigated Bill Clinton.

  86. The problem is none of us could possibly have all the information! It is not like we are discussing a peer-reviewed journal. These are just news stories that can not be verified for accuracy. This simply has no place in a skeptical context. I am going to fall ill if someone else posts “I google and found…” as evidence for an argument.

    All you can say is that Krauss was in error when expressing an opinion about an unscientific subject and unrelated to skepticism.

    Also as far as I know scientific papers do not include a section right after the bibliography that list the personal foibles of all authors. It is on tabloids that the personal life of actors and politicians are discussed. Serious websites and journals tend to limit themselves to professional output.

  87. wow, and now Krauss is implying that the entire criminal justice system is on the take or what?

    This was all some “plot” to get money from this guy? Because frankly, there are a lot of people that make a lot of money. Heck, even Michael Jackson got off. If this guy was so dumb as to be “taken” by underage teenage girls, I mean how DUMB is he? At what point do you not think “wow my behavior may leave me open to blackmail”. As for Krauss himself now saying he was supposedly at some of these orgies, didn’t read it here. Until he posted it. In fact it’s amazing how many people are now “well you know I slept with someone underaged” (though probably not named “Svetlana” that had crossed an international date line to come on the “massage date”)…it’s like, sometimes it’s a good plan to just keep your mouth shut. Sometimes being supportive behind the scenes is being more supportive than just throwing yourself under the train also. I don’t see people lining up going “oh right on!” about Krauss. Even people that are supportive are cringing and going “oh geez, dude, keep your mouth SHUT”. So it seems the only positive from this is …first on the list for funding? I can not think why else he would have said that which someone educated and smart would realise was going to be controversial.

  88. Dr Krauss’s subsequent comments do little to clear up the problem with his initial comment.

    Krauss’s initial comment referred to the “unfortunate period he [Epstein] suffered” and claimed that his empirical evidence led him to believe Epstein’s claims over “other people” (presumably other people includes the findings of fact in his trial).

    Kraus then kept digging with “I honestly don’t know who was the victim in this case.” The victim should be obvious.

    I’d think after being roundly savaged on skepchick.org and Pharyngula, if not other places, Dr Krauss should be thinking hard about what subsequent statement to make. Yet what he did was attack skeptics for not being skeptical, and hint at a financial motivation for people to attack Epstein.

    I’ve read some of the comments he got originally, and I don’t recall any mention of orgies or lurid behavior involving Dr Krauss. The facts of the case are known from the court – that Epstein engaged in a cycle of finding and molesting under-age girls; that’s depressing enough with no need to embellish the case. Dr Krauss’s response is how bad Epstein must have felt being incarcerated; he [Krauss] didn’t see any underage girls and skeptics aren’t very skeptical to believe all those media stories. Yet those media stories aren’t a factor in skeptics’ responses.

    Dr Krauss, you are being attacked not for your future support of Epstein but for your sympathy for _his_ problems while incarcerated, your denial that the abuse occurred, your lack of sympathy for the victims … and now your straw man rebuttal that you are only being attacked because your critics are uncritically believing lurid stories on the web.

    Stop digging, Dr Krauss!!

  89. Hmm, not quite sure how to feel about this one. My initial reaction is one of disgust that Lawrence Krauss would defend this disgusting creature.

    However I do think he makes some valid points in his defence regarding people’s motivations for making such claims, the media’s tendancies to skew publicity on such issues, and a billionaire’s motivation to take a plea bargain.

    Overall I think it’s more likely that Mr Epstein is in fact guilty of these crimes, in which case he certainly deserves a far greater punishment, and Lawrence Krauss should feel ashamed for defending him. However I do have a small niggle of doubt in the back of my mind, and am therefore hesistant to pass judgement. I think the only people who will ever know for sure are Jeffrey Epstein and the girls involved.

  90. This Epstein case reminds me of an episode of ST:TNG where Wesley Crusher got into legal trouble on Rubicon 3 for bumping into sacred plants. Only in this case it wasn’t plants it was children’s vaginas. And it wasn’t accidental bumping it was raping. But other than that…

  91. This is well beyond a failing in skepticism or science. This is a failure of basic humanity. This is a failure of honor. I don’t care if you are the greatest friend I have ever had. I don’t care if you are my family. What this man did was beyond the pale. It is evil. It is disgusting. And he belongs in prison for many years. We cannot express outrage when a priest rapes a child and then pretend that if our firend or an admired scientist does the same thing that it is in some way different.

  92. What a heaping, steaming pile of bullshit Krauss serves up.

    “Moreover, I also believe that Jeffrey is an easy target for those who want to take advantage of him… I honestly don’t know who was the victim in this case. probably everyone was a victim, with no happy resolution or consequences of these activities.”

    Oh, so now I get it. The poor guy! Here is a middle-aged billionaire pervert who associated with some of the most powerful people in the world, and he was just plain duped by all those penniless 14-year-old girls he summoned to give him blow jobs three times daily. In what universe does this make any fucking sense?

    “I fully expect that these masseuses knew what they were doing, and were not swayed to do anything with Jeffrey that they were not already doing.”

    They were sluts, therefore he gets a free pass to fuck them for money! Jeffrey is a victim who also happens to give me huge sums of money. QED.

  93. Why couldn’t he have just said, “I condemn what Jeffrey did (or at least I don’t condone it, which is what this email sounds suspiciously like), but I and in fact the entire field of science owe him a debt of gratitude that these actions, however despicable, do not erase.” Classy, brief, and on the right side of ethics and morality.

  94. Some here seem to think that the courts work like science does.

    They do not.

    Beyond a reasonable doubt is quite different from best current evidence.

    Mr. Epstein plead guilty to a crime; a crime that requires him to register as a sex offender.

    This is not something that a man of Mr. Epstein’s means would do lightly.

    Not when he had access to the best lawyers money can buy, not when he had the ability to (allegedly) intimidate witnesses, not when he was able to “bring into question” the morals of the victims, not when he could just as easily buy off the accusers, and not when he could simply bury the accusations.

    To those who insist that the accused is instead the victim, you are wrong. You are welcome to your opinion that Mr. Epstein is being unfairly persecuted, a view that the facts don’t bear out, but it does not sweep away the mounds of evidence against him. The belief of unfairness is a persecution complex on par with the one held by The Catholic League.

    To those who are saying we don’t “know” and therefore can’t have opinion, you are simply wrong, that is not how skepticism works and you should know better. We can use all available accounts to decide what the most likely scenario is and comment on it; as long as we aren’t saying it is undisputed fact.

    To those saying this is not the concern of skepticism, you are wrong. Lawrence Krauss is a well known skeptic who seems to be suffering from some very large lapses in logic, for that reason alone it merits comment; additionally as has been pointed out this is also a feminist blog and if sex trafficking, child molestation, and blaming the victim don’t fall into feminism I don’t know what does.

    You may believe that we are being unskeptical for believing the “main stream media” version of events, the bulk of which corroborate each other; a view that would be true if we were stating it as undisputed fact.

    You may believe that if some of the victims weren’t underage that it calls into question all of the victims’ claims or that all of the victims were looking for a payout or that, since the age of consent laws aren’t perfectly defined, any claims of molestation and rape are unfounded; special pleading all and disgusting to boot.

    We skeptics are behaving the way skeptics are want to behave when faced with disgusting behavior that is being defended by someone that is believed to be one of us. We feel like liberating our lunch, excuse us if our expression of said lunch is not perfectly poetic.

  95. Maybe I am missing it but where is the link to where originally Krauss defended Epstein? Was this conversation in a public forum or private?

  96. Rebecca, my compliments. This is a great bit of writing, IMHO the best you have ever published, and probably one of the top five things ever published in the skeptical blogosphere.

    Now with my serious comment out of the way, since they are now having roped-off VIP seating at TAM 9, perhaps they should have a special roped-off section at the DelMar for sex offender sympathizers–we can throw Roman Polanski defenders in for free, as well.

  97. I doubt people will swim through 120 comments to read mine, but I have a family member that is a convicted child molester. About him I say, “I love him and he will always be my family member.” That’s it.

  98. I think a lot of people here including Krauss have really missed the point.

    Whether or not he actually commited a crime, whether or not the crime should be considered moral or not is irrelevant.

    Epstein agreed to a plea deal in which he admitted to the crime. He could have gone to trial and proven his innocence. He’s a billionaire, he could have had the best lawyers. There is no duress he could have been under to make a billionaire admit to raping children … except the duress of knowing the true extent of his crimes and that everything could become public.

    But instead he admitted to the crime in the plea deal. The judge accepted it, he was convicted.

    At that moment any and all sympathy from any friend should have died. Whether or not there is a greater truth left untold no longer matters … he admitted to the crime. He raped childred. End of story.

    Krauss has nothing but anecdotes with which to defend Epstein. You’d think a scientist and ‘real skeptic’ would know the value of anecdotes.

  99. I was not going to comment further, but a dear friend has asked me to make my position even clearer. Each time I do, I find my comments deconstructed, but here goes:

    I condemn the acts that have been described in the media, but I don’t believe Jeffrey did them, and I have personally had no compelling evidence to the contrary, and lots of reason to be suspicious of what I have read. Moreover, for those who are confused, there was no trial, no evidence presented at a trial, no jury decision. So I am not pitting myself against a court of law. There was a plea bargain, for a host of reasons that people can speculate about. One could also speculate that the prosecution would not have considered a plea bargain had they had a compelling case, but I am not making that assumption. Now, am I wrong to trust someone I believe I can trust when we have talked at length about this in detail? Perhaps. But I have tried to make an assessment based on my knowledge of the events, the reports, and the man. Since I don’t believe there was rape, child-molestation, or moving minors from one country to another for sexual purposes, I cannot in all good conscience condemn my friend, even if it leads to condemnation of me. I may be wrong or deluded in my conclusions, but I am acting honorably, as I see it, based upon them.

    Moreover, as I have tried to say repeatedly, even if you choose to disagree with me, and for some reason think you have better evidence that these events happened than I do, the fact is that Jeffrey went to prison, and I know for a fact came out of prison a more thoughtful responsible man who was intent on doing good. I would hope people would not be so quick to assume that this is not possible, and that if any of you were in this situation that you would hope that people would be willing to allow for this possibility.

    It has been a difficult decision to stand by what I believe are the facts of the matter in spite of attacks from people I would like the respect of, but that is the way it is. As some of you know, I just wrote a book about Richard Feynman, and as I thought about the derision on the web, I remember his statement, What do you care what other people think? I think he would have done the same thing I have done if he assessed the situation as I have.

    L. Krauss

  100. I might be looking at this too simply because I’m not really that bright. However, I am very concerned as your average skeptical human. Mr. Epstein is a self-proclaimed perv. Mr. Kraus has made a terrible, maybe unforgivable error in judgment. I have an opinion, makes me want to puke. Really immoral, unethical, make me want to kick you in the huevos, how do you sleep at night?
    Does anyone really disagree?

  101. I condemn the acts that have been described in the media, but I don’t believe Jeffrey did them, and I have personally had no compelling evidence to the contrary, and lots of reason to be suspicious of what I have read.

    Right, because you’d rather hold on to your mistaken assumptions about Epstein than abandon him.

    the fact is that Jeffrey went to prison, and I know for a fact came out of prison a more thoughtful responsible man who was intent on doing good. I would hope people would not be so quick to assume that this is not possible, and that if any of you were in this situation that you would hope that people would be willing to allow for this possibility.

    Yes, but part of reforming your character is that you own up to what you did wrong and promise never to do it again. Did Epstein do this? Obviously not!

    Keep digging that hole, hypocrite! Eventually, you may reach the Earth’s core. Your statements in support of Epstein have NO honorable defense!

  102. I hate to keep bringing up This American Life on here, but this week’s episode is called “See no Evil” and it’s about not seeing what you don’t want to be there.

    One story about one brother defending a second brother from accusations that the second brother killed their mother, one story about Soviet leaders’ refusal to acknowledge any sort of problem after the Chernobyl accident and how those who knew better rationalized how it was not their job to correct the situation, and one story about not believing that “nice, opera loving people” could steal.

    It proves nothing in regards to this story but it does speak to the ability of rational humans to rationalize away what they wish to not be true.

  103. Just to be clear, sex with people who are underage is a crime regardless of whether you are aware of their age or not, unless you have a reasonable excuse, such as they told you they were above the age of consent and you met them in a place where that is likely (such as a bar).

    The fact that Jeffery pleaded guilty doesn’t mean that he knew their ages, it means that when the facts were presented to him, he accepted that he had had sex with underage girls.

    It’s also important to note that he wasn’t charged with rape and their is no evidence or allegations of rape. Sex with people underage is only considered rape if they are especially young – in most countries about 12. These girls were reportedly only just under the age of consent – by a year or two, and the law accepts that people of the age of 16 and 17 (or even lower, although that’s not relevant to this case) are mature enough to have consensual sex.

    I’m not attempting to defend Krauss or Jeffery, and I’m not expressing a personal opinion on whether these laws are correct or “just,” I’m merely trying to explain what the current laws actually are.

  104. @mrmisconception:
    A day late and a dollar short, but I agree that there’s nothing ambiguous about 13… especially for a 58 year old man. I just don’t like it when people get emotional and throw around generalities.

    I honestly can’t understand Krauss on this one. The facts Epstein has admitted to make it obvious that he victimized minors for his own pleasure. There’s no “media spin” here.

  105. Dr. Krauss:

    Loyalty to a friend is admirable. But you cannot repair his reputation and continuing to loudly link yourself to him can only do further damage to yours. I’m sorry, but if you want to lecture people on what it is to be skeptical, you should know that anecdote and personal experiences are not evidence. What evidence is available points to the conclusion you wish to deny.

    Stick with your friend if you believe he’s innocent. But if you’re going to loudly protest his innocence, either bring more to the table than “Look, I just really don’t think he seems like that kind of guy,” or don’t be surprised when there’s a backlash over reasoning so poor it’s frankly insulting.

  106. “I was not going to comment further, but a dear friend has asked me to make my position even clearer. Each time I do, I find my comments deconstructed, but here goes:”

    You brought “as a scientist” into your discussion of this issue. You’re on a skeptics blog. You’re about to speak at a skeptics conference.

    But you expect that we shouldn’t deconstruct your arguments? Have you reached some guru level where you’re above having your arguments questioned? You’re above critical thinking now?

  107. I just wrote a book about Richard Feynman, and as I thought about the derision on the web, I remember his statement, What do you care what other people think? I think he would have done the same thing I have done if he assessed the situation as I have.

    Yeah! I mean, I never knew Feynman, but I think he would have been TOTALLY down with the whole child rape thing.

    At least, as you say, if he assessed this situation as you have.

    In fact, I think it’s safe to say we would ALL be happy palling around with and defending convicted child rapists… IF we all assessed the situation as you have.

  108. @nickandrew: Excellent summary. I feel the same way everytime I read another update, it is just another standard canard, and Krauss just looks smaller and smaller down a deeper and deeper hole.

  109. @davew:

    I think there is something deeply creepy about wanting sex with someone who is a fraction of your age.

    [inappropriate nitpick 1]”whose age is a fraction of yours”
    [inappropriate nitpick 2]17/18ths is a fraction. (That could mean 34/36 or 51/54 or even more, if reducing fractions to their simplest terms confuses you)

  110. Rebecca,

    Thanks for writing this post. When I was a Christian it really annoyed me how hypocritical many people were when they would condemn a non-Christian for something, but then “forgive” and excuse a Christian for doing the same thing. I really appreciate the integrity of yourself, PZ, and the vast majority of my fellow atheists and skeptics for loudly condemning Krauss’ dreadfully unskeptical and conspiracy-theory laden excuses for a disgusting individual. Keep up the good work!

  111. – Logic Alert –

    If Mr. Epstein is innocent of any crime, then why would he need to “seriously examine his life in very positive ways,” Mr. Krauss?

  112. @kittynh
    as a skeptical community there should be 2 main direction
    1. is there a scientific method that can bring light in the dark? (one says so, other so) by the way: are there any womenmade religions?scientology?
    2. is Krauss allowed as an scientist to have an opinion on running/delicate cases: => means is his conclusion damaging the sceptical movement?
    =>2. i think its allowed, cause as we see there are also opposite opinions in this community
    => main problem: here are different opionion on topics that re not clear (whos guilty; whos the right god) both leads to shrill comments or more?
    => how to valuade shrill comments? 1. dont trust the judge system of the us 2. dont trust the kowledge of humane nature of Krauss 3. dont trust men itself (repeated public condemning are necessary to avoid men to have sex with underage girls) 4. dont trust the society: the value of selfdetermination in the west is shrinking
    for me there are some points unclear:
    1. what r the rules for the hostparents?
    2. how often did Epstein had sex (with age exactly 13…17)
    3. how does the legislation differenciate between having sex, paying for sex and organising a sex ring (with underage)
    4. what would be the penalty for the underage girl/ boy IF she/ he had been guilty to cover her age (10 years to life, i dont guess)
    5. why are underage girls allowed to work as a models (underage sells?)
    6. modeling and school how does that work?
    => epstein is like hitler, the ultimate evil? umpf, thats unbelievable and cheezy

  113. Bjornar, you sure are nitpicking, and are incorrect to boot. The word “fraction” is not just a mathematical term. If you look it up in the dictionary you’ll see that one of the definitions in “a small part, a bit.” So davew used the word correctly when he wrote “fraction of their age” to mean someone who is much younger. You might want to make sure you know what a word means before you try to play the role of grammar police.

  114. @@shortline: I imagine that having daily sex with prostitutes would be something that some people would view as a character trait that could be improved, regardless of their age.

  115. One point I do want to make about this Jeffrey Epstein case. Pedophilia is a primary attraction to PRE-pubescents (usually under 12), hebophilia is a sexual attraction to early pubescents (11-14) and ehebophilia is a sexual attraction to late adolescents (15-19). However, these are based on ATTRACTION, not behavior. There is no evidence or suggestion that Epstein is a pedophile.

    And yes, I am pedantic, as I can be, but this is an important point to make. Painting men who like teenage girls with the pedophile brush (like pedophile glasses!) will make people think you are blowing things out of proportion, because they know that being attracted to 9 year old girls is VERY different from being attracted to 15 year old girls.

    There are plenty of ethical sex positive communities where all kinds of controversial sexual attractions/behaviors are explored, sometimes with the help of sex workers. And EVERY ONE of those ETHICAL communities will insist that those sex workers are of legal age and treated with dignity and respect.

    You can’t hire a teen girl to pluck a chicken in this country dude to labor laws, and if you do, you will be held liable even if she lied about her age.

    The same thing applies to hiring a teen girl to choke your chicken.

  116. Anyone else hear the distinct creationist argument in Krauss’ misogynistic rape-apologetics? how convenient for him to have the privilege to rely on the exact same “were you there” bullshit arguments they use to avoid being a rational. compassionate human being.

    All this has made me respect PZ a hell of a lot more.

  117. I’m glad you guys feel you can pass judgment on a person based on an article on “The Daily Beast”. Skepticism requires a degree of certainty that the data is correct before arriving at a conclusion. In my opinion, no one who was not a first party to the incidents and participated in the legal proceedings could possibly argue that they have enough facts to pass judgement. This includes Krauss and it is what he has being trying to get across to the group amidst all the hysterics. His error is that instead of just saying “He’s a friend and I just don’t know what happened” he’s typing and saying too much.

    The groups reaction is worrisome from the skeptical point of view. It displays a belief that individuals and groups without all the data or expertise can grasp a subject and come to a conclusion. This leads to all the erroneous and ugly recent trends in skepticism like libertarianism, accomodationism and climate change denial. This is also what tabloid journalism is – quote people and describe situations to elicit an emotional rather than a rational response.

    Please note that this doesn’t have anything to do with the allegations or whether they are true or not. Just pointing out that emotional responses, no matter how disgusting the allegation, have no place in skeptical discourse. This is why I liked PZs take on the situation. His post had nothing to do with skepticism or science or on the allegations or legal aspects. He’s just saying Krauss is acting like an idiot in this case. I would also argue this is separate from Krauss professional output which is held to a different standard than “Daily Beast” quotes or blog responses.

  118. Skepticism requires a degree of certainty that the data is correct before arriving at a conclusion. In my opinion, no one who was not a first party to the incidents and participated in the legal proceedings could possibly argue that they have enough facts to pass judgement.

    Do you believe that evolution is true?
    You do?
    Did you see it happen?
    How can you possible believe that it happened?

  119. @Somite: “Just pointing out that emotional responses, no matter how disgusting the allegation, have no place in skeptical discourse. ”

    You might want to go back and edit these words out of your comment, then:


  120. I will probably go to TAM. There has long been discussion as to why there are not more women in the skeptical movement. Without getting into a debate about that, I think the skeptical movement should prove itself as being not only women friendly, but on the right side of moral behavior towards children and humans in general.

    I don’t know if I should write the JREF and ask them to disinvite him or if I should just encourage people to walk out of his talk. I think we should send a clear message on this one.

    And this is not to say I think he condones immoral behavior, just that his mind is fooling him and he needs a wake-up call.

  121. The rape-apologetics really put me in mind of the idea of “rape culture”, particularly the bit about “Rape culture is the narrative that sex workers can’t be raped.”

    Went off about that at my own blog, though. So will not froth up much more here, other than to say I am ten kinds of ticked off.

    And it’s also bothering me that there’s a lot of focus on the age of the girls – which is important and awful due to the uneven power dynamic, not to mention NOT LEGAL, but also allows diversion off into excuses about age of consent laws – and less on the accusations of non-consensual sex (you know, RAPE) and sex trafficking.

  122. @Somite: Your emotional discourse about being emotional in discourse being a bad thing demonstrates that being emotional in discourse is a bad thing?


  123. @Somite: And how do you determined that others have let their emotions seep into their conclusions? Was that fact also published in countless peer reviewed papers and books?

  124. Just pointing out that emotional responses, no matter how disgusting the allegation, have no place in skeptical discourse

    Anyone else creeped out by the constant sexist-dog-whistle insistence that people who show emotions are magically incapable of having a rational point? What sort of sociopathic nonsense is this?

    What you’re really saying is that anyone who is upset by something is automatically to be excluded from a debate about it. So, only the people with the privilege to not be affected should be allowed to talk about the issue and decide for everyone what is “right”. Because obviously, people who show absolutely no emotions are totally the people to whom the rest of us should delegate all powers of authority to.

    What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

    1. Anyone else creeped out by the constant sexist-dog-whistle insistence that people who show emotions are magically incapable of having a rational point? What sort of sociopathic nonsense is this?

      it’s the Mister Spock paradigm. it’s ridiculous that “rational” adults believe in a television character the way they do.

  125. Well, this is a strong example of how humans can demonstrate extreme cognitive biases. Unfortunately, the standard research on this suggests that the more Krauss publicly makes such claims the more likely he is strongly believe them. Humans have a lot of trouble backing down from bad claims when the consequences involve status.

  126. @Somite:

    I was using an “ad absurdum” arguement for effect, but the question remains; where does the line of truth lie?

    The media is not peer reviewed, are we to discount all reporting as unreliable? Peer review isn’t perfect, Dr. Wakefield proved that, should we be suspicious of peer review also? Cognitive scientists have proved time and again that we can’t even believe our eyes for sure, so do you trust?

    While it is true that we can not know the exact details of what happened without first-hand knowledge (and maybe not then considering how fallible memory is) but we are not a court of law, we are not making scientific claims, we are using the available evidence to come to reasoned conclusions, opinions, and yes they may be colored by emotion. So sue us, we’re human.

    The assertion that opinion must not be formed without perfect knowledge is simply wrong.

    Opinions are formed from all sorts of data, good and bad; the difference is that a skeptic is open to the possiblity of further refutation, of being shown more information that may change our conclutions, of being wrong.

    If anyone is being overly emotional here it is Dr. Krauss, he has allowed the affection he has for his friend keep him from considering the possiblity of guilt. (My opinion, I can’t read his mind)

    I liken it to the parent who refuses vaccinating their child out of fear of autism. The motivation is understandable; they want to protect their child, but the emotion of the situation keeps them from thinking clearly about the subject, making them vulnerable to being confused by the conflicting data (and made worse by the dishonesty displayed by some of the suppliers of said data).

    Dr. Krauss has the understandable motivation of wanting to believe his friend, he has been told that (at least some of) the allegations aren’t true so he has decided, in a very unskeptical way, to dismiss all confliction data. Again, very understandable, but not very skeptical.

    You are welcome to your opinion, please allow me to be welcome to mine.

  127. @mrmisconception: Hmmm…while your opinion is based on the available facts, Dr. Krauss’ refutation of said opinion appears to be based on ‘personal revelation’ … I don’t know Epstein, I must have personal knowledge of Epstein…substitute the word Jesus for Epstein and I think it’s a pretty familiar argument.

    Also, in this country, those pleading guilty in open court are instructed to comprehend that such a plea is the SAME as a verdict arrived at by trial. So I have to wonder, which is it? Did Epstein lie to the court or to Dr. Krauss?

  128. I am also thinking of people I know in positions of “power” and “respect”. How important is the science to Dr.Krauss? Important enough for him to realise that for his “good important science” he has a certain standard of behavior he needs to follow. Like, acting and thinking like a scientist and not using the word “science” when talking about something NOT science. Personal opinions by scientists does not equal science. Everything a scientist thinks and says isn’t science. Don’t try to pass it off as “I’m a scientists, and a very successful one, and so I can’t be FOOLED!” Wow, I think Dr.Krauss needs to have a little sit down with Mr.James Randi and listen. Randi has said over and over and over…smart people (scientists) think they can’t be FOOLED. They are “too smart” to be tricked. When you fall into that kind of thinking, and claim it as science…well that’s how Uri Geller gets away with his dog and pony show.

  129. Is there any way someone could make an announcement at TAM about why people are leaving Kraus’s talk? Maybe read his comment aloud before the exodus?

    I was pushing to make TAM this year. Part of me is so creeped out by this, I’m not so sure anymore. Knowing a significant portion of what is a very large expense for me would be going toward Kraus’s speaker’s fee makes me feel ill.

    But part of me wants to go just to participate in the protest.

  130. @kittynh:
    “I’m a scientists, and a very successful one, and so I can’t be FOOLED!”

    A list of other who can not be fooled:

    Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when asked about fairies,
    any pilot who has ever reported a UFO,
    Bill Nye polishing his “magic water” bottle,
    a megadosing Linus Pauling,
    astronaut Edgar Mitchell when asked about aliens,
    and the list goes on and on.

    Scientists (and other unfoolable experts) are people; people are fallible; therefore scientists et.al. are fallible.

  131. “I honestly don’t know who was the victim in this case. probably everyone was a victim, with no happy resolution or consequences of these activities. I fully expect that these masseuses knew what they were doing, and were not swayed to do anything with Jeffrey that they were not already doing.”

    The more I think about it, the more this comment bothers me. 13 year olds don’t really know what they’re doing. The adults in their lives are responsible for their decisions. Krauss seems to just brush aside the fact that Epstein paid into a system that was abusing minors.

    You must assume responsibility for paying into and participating in a system that’s harming others. It’s no excuse to throw your hands in the air and say you didn’t create the system.

    The victims here are the minors surrounded by adults making decisions on their behalf that will impact their entire lives, not the billionaire whose wealth those adults lived on. Just because they’d already been victimized doesn’t mean you’re absolved for victimizing them again or for being a part of the system that victimized them.

    Does anyone really think a 13 year old could say “No” to anything in a situation where the people who have all the power in their lives are being paid fantastic sums of money for them to say, “Yes”?

  132. I posted this at the JREF< but I'm reposting it here… because it's getting interesting…..
    the weird part about the defense though has been many people aren't defending Krauss and his right to say whatever he wants. Freedom of speech and such. A lot of the "defense" has been "it's ok to sleep with underage girls". I mean, that's not the controversy is it? It's what Krauss SAID. And instead it appears to be what the billionaire donor DID that is being defended. Even Krauss didn't defend so much as try to explain away the behavior. I mean no need to tell us all in detail how you have slept with underage people, and when you were underage you slept with older people…(though no one has admitted to their parents getting paid for them to sleep with someone older, or having paid to sleep with someone younger, but give it time…). It's still a crime. So please dont' admit to it on the internet! Keeping your mouth shut is a good plan for not just Krauss but others!

    Like I said, the defense of underage sex (for money in the case here) seems to be an interesting development that even Krauss wasn't willing to make. (He did say the girls looked 18 or 19, he didn't say "well yeah those girls were underage and sure he banged them! But that's ok! Because the current laws are wrong. Heck I banged a 15 year old just the other day and she is finally able to afford those braces she has needed!" I mean he DIDN'T…so it's funny the defense of Krauss has been a defense of behavior even Krauss doesn't agree is acceptable).

  133. @DJGrothe:

    DJ, you say:

    “1) age of consent laws should be looked at more skeptically,

    2) prostitution is not necessarily a bad thing, and

    2) that based on my own personal experience of sexual activity when I was under the age of 18 with people who were over that age (I initiated the contact, and did not reveal my age at the time) that some guy paying for a massage with a happy ending from someone he says that he thought was over 18 seems at least plausible.

    Age 13 is below the age of consent in my book, but 16 or 17 isn’t necessarily so. But I don’t read Krauss as in any way defending sex with a 13 or 14 year old girl. And I certainly don’t think he has embarrassed scientists everywhere, even if he may have in retrospect wished he kept his opinion of the matter to himself.”

    While many people might argue the age of consent should be examined (it is 18 in Florida for people Mr. Epstein’s age, but 16 or 17 for people 24 years of age or younger, depending on age), and while many people might think that prostitution should be legalized, it would be strange person indeed who would argue for legalized CHILD prostitution. You can make the argument that adult women should be allowed to make the choice of selling sex for money, but when a child is involved, it is exploitation, it is a violation, and it should be condemned.

  134. @kittynh: That’s the problem with the “skeptic’s movement”. We seem to attract these very vocal sociopaths who get off on being contrarian.

    There’s no way to win with them, either, because arguing with them derails the conversation into detached pedantic sophistry about offensive subjects, but ignoring them leaves their bullshit unchallenged. Either they get the attention they crave, or the community looks like we’re supporting their horrible nonsense.

    In my opinion, this is a major challenge for our movement. Between this discussion about Krauss’s comments and Bug Girl’s most recent post, things look pretty bleak to me.

  135. @DJGrothe: Whoa. WHAT?! DJ is over here defending this?

    If this is the attitude of the leadership of this movement, we’re never going to get anywhere. I can think of no better way to ensure that the “skeptics movement” remains white, male, and old.

  136. “I can think of no better way to ensure that the “skeptics movement” remains white, male, and old.”

    Perhaps, ultimately, this is what they want.

  137. @delphi_ote and @lygypsy:

    While your frustration is understandable, I think you are both, ironically, undervaluing the huge and positive impact that Rebecca Watson, Elyse, and the Skepchick community in general has on the so-called skeptical movement, not to mention general social awareness of issues like this.

    I think I’m slightly more concerned with the class issues that colour the skeptical community somewhat elitist. I mean, roped off VIP areas at TAM?!?

  138. “Yeah, this guy is guilty, and, yeah, Krauss is spineless, but can we please get back to doing science now?”

    “I’d like to know what this has to do with science or skepticism.”

    Well, Krauss prefaced his statement with the words ‘as a scientist’ and the reiterated his scientific standing later in the statement. So, basically, what he’s saying is that his apologia of Douchebag McMoneypants’s behaviour is based in scientific theory.

    So, when we talk about how much of a deluded, self-entitled jerk-off Krauss is, we actually are talking about science.

  139. Still taking all of this in — what a horrible situation.

    Regarding TAM and @delphi_ote‘s concern: TAM registration fees go to cover the costs of producing the event and do not for the most part go to pay speakers. TAM speakers waive most or all of their regular speaking fees in support of TAM and the JREF. Nearly all TAM speakers this year are not receiving any fee for their participation.

  140. @John Greg: Trust me. I’m not undervaluing their impact. There’s a reason I post here now instead of the JREF forums.

    But I’m watching what’s unfolding before my eyes here: the outrage that our female skeptics rightly feel about these insensitive comments is being dismissed by the leadership at the JREF. Not only did DJ not acknowledge that the remarks were way out of line, he publicly defended them (and, it seems to me, for the most part agrees with them!)

  141. @delphi_ote:
    13 year olds don’t really know what they’re doing.
    In general, that’s true. But we’re not talking about all 13 year olds, just a particular few. Similarly, not all twenty- or thirty- somethings know what they’re doing, either; it puzzles me how some of them obtained college degrees.

    You must assume responsibility for paying into and participating in a system that’s harming others.

    Epstein did. He is now a registered sex offender for life, and he served a bit in prison. I know there are people who dispute whether he served enough time, but the proof will be in recidivism (and by the way, there is good evidence that recidivism rates for sex offenders is actually quite a bit lower than for other types of criminals).

    The victims here are the minors surrounded by adults making decisions on their behalf that will impact their entire lives, not the billionaire whose wealth those adults lived on.

    There is no billionaire at reference in this case. This does call into question all the “facts” reported by those who reported that he was. If you can’t fact-check something as simple as that, what other allegations are fabricated?

    Does anyone really think a 13 year old could say “No” to anything in a situation where the people who have all the power in their lives are being paid fantastic sums of money for them to say, “Yes”?

    Yes, I do. In fact, I know some kids who are about 11 years younger who are quite well-versed in saying “No!” I don’t think this capability fades with age.

  142. James Randi said this…

    Scientists are very easily deceived. They think logically, extrapolate possibilities from evidence presented, assume (with a good probability of being right) certain aspects of the observed data and draw upon their past experience in coming to decisions. This is to say that they act very much as all humans do, struggling with sensory input to derive new facts from it. But scientists do this with a certain authority and certainty born of their training and discipline. They are thus excellent candidates for being flimflammed by a clever operator who is aware of the fact that scientists seldom bring the human element into account.

    I would ask if the JREF is paying for his room and airfare to TAM. I think it’s important to be very upfront about the money. I’m glad he isn’t getting paid to speak.

  143. Lawrence Krauss Defends a Sex Offender, Embarrasses Scientists Everywhere
    Great.. how did you find out that he’s embarrassed scientists everywhere? Did you go around collecting opinions?

    And here’s the kicker: he’s invoking the name of science to do it.
    Right.. just mentioning that he’s a scientist means that he’s invoking the full blown scientific method in this case?

    As far as the Epstein guy is concerned, ok.. he’s committed a crime, and I guess the justice system has punished him.. what more do you want? His friends/family members will do their best to see that he gets off with as little punishment as possible, and that he learns a lesson. You will do the same if something happens in your own world.

    You are just showing a holier-than-thou attitude here. misdirection of anger over a <18year old girl getting lured into sex somehow.

  144. Just to repeat again – Epstein wasn’t charged or convicted of rape. Rape is either when you have sex without consent, or when you have sex with somebody legally deemed unable to give consent. He is not accused of doing this. Calling him a child rapist, or any kind of rapist is false.

  145. @lygypsy: I think that is exactly what the rapists and the rape apologists do want. They don’t want girls and women in any social situation they participate in except where they are at the top of the social power hierarchy and the girls and women are at the bottom and stay there.

    I have a long comment on the Bug-girl rape thread that explains it. Rapists and rape apologists don’t think of rape victims as human beings. They might verbally say they do, but in their heart of hearts they don’t think that rape victims have the capacity to have human feelings that can be hurt by being raped.

    For men to think of girls and women as human beings, those men must be exposed to girls and women during their formative years. The inability of some men to perceive women and girls as human beings is one consequence of segregation of the genders. Boys never develop the cognitive neuroanatomy to decipher the body language of girls and women and so understand them to be fully human.

  146. @watson:186

    Yeah.. just a wee bit stupid lesser than your wonderful analysis..

    Jeffrey Epstein should be free from any further civil or criminal prosecution and hell, he should probably be given a humanitarian award for all the money he’s given to scientific research.

    Wonderful set of recommendations

  147. I was initially pretty surprised at the reaction both to my comment on this thread, and to the reactions to Krauss’s explanations for his withholding judgment about his friend’s possible guilt. But after reading these comments more carefully, I think I do better understand the negative reaction and want to apologize for how my comment may have come across. My thoughts about injustice as it pertains to media bias and sex laws are largely based on my own experience of injustice as a gay man, and also in terms of the way laws around sexuality are sometimes used to punish people unfairly. I wasn’t thinking about it in terms of exploitation, which is clearly important. I stand by my view that laws regarding age of consent and prostitution, and the ways these laws are applied, should probably be looked at more skeptically. But that comment was ill-timed. I understand how, in the context of the other comments, it may have looked like I was trying to dismiss the harm done by sex trafficking. I wish it had been obvious that that wasn’t my intent at all, and I sincerely regret that it came across that way.

  148. Rebecca, you poked a stick in the sociopath’s nest with this one. Help! It’s an asshole swarm!

    There’s only so much I can take, and an argument with someone seeming to entertain consent at 11 is my limit. So, to all those pedantically attempting to justify sex crimes, the secret is to bang the rocks together, guys.

    Molestation, rape, the victimization and abuse of children, and sex trafficking aren’t abstractions to a lot of people that post here. Despite how sensitive these subjects can be in our sexist culture (especially for women trying to survive in historically male dominated fields like science, engineering, and medicine) so many posters are treating this like the trolley problem. Carelessly engaging in naval gazing solipsism in a public forum about a topic like this without listening to the people you’re offending is tone deaf. It’s insensitive. It’s a failure of leadership.

    There’s a time and a place to discuss every subject under the sun. I’d be happy to hash out almost any of the ethical issues brought up in these posts over a beer. But this isn’t really the time or place. Anyone with tact should understand that.

    Are we, as a movement, going to collectively challenge our leadership and membership when they participate in and defend discussions so obviously hostile to women? Even if you think this is a misunderstanding, wouldn’t a sincere apology and a little humility be appropriate? Does the leadership actually care about sexism, or is the inclusive language used on the JREF and CSI websites just some bullshit boilerplate copied from other nonprofits?

    We can do better. We should do better.

  149. @owheelj: Correction: Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to felony solicitation of prostitution and procuring a person under the age of 18 for prostitution. The age of consent in Florida is 18.

    That is called statutory rape. Rape! See, it’s right there in the title of the crime. Nice try at excusing this abhorrent behavior though.

  150. Good for you DJ, for backing down to a large part on your earlier point but I have couple of points that I think need to be addressed.

    Firstly, can we stop this this ridiculous “as a gay man” apologetic? It seems to have become the new “I’m not a racist but…” as a disclaimer to suggest that no matter how horrible what I’m about to say, or have said is, you should forgive me because I’m a gay man and therefore my view of life is so wildly askew from yours that I should be forgiven for proffering an opinion so offensive that seismographs might measure it.

    Incidentally – I say this as I really am a gay man, so that kind of balderdash doesn’t work on me, it makes me feel pretty sick in fact.

    Secondly, I really, really wanted to go to TAM this year. It was one of those rare times that I would be in the US at the same time the meeting was happening but with airfares, accommodation and such, I couldn’t afford it – and now I’m actually really pleased, because not only would I hate to attend an event that would have such a speaker, but I think the very fact that the JREF haven’t kicked him to the curb already is a massive stain on the reputation of the organisation itself.

    Furthermore, this solidifies my opinion that perhaps we can do without the self appointed hierarchy of skepticism – we work so much better at grass roots anyway. If the JREF want to have guys like Krauss on their team then let them have it.

    To massively misquote Groucho Marx – “I would not join any club that would have HIM as a member.”

  151. @astrokid:
    Jeffrey Epstein should be free from any further civil or criminal prosecution and hell

    I wouldn’t go that far. If there are more unresolved cases not covered under his plea agreement, then he should face the music for those crimes. I _do_ have a problem with people filing multimillion dollar cases against people who can pay, when they’ve not participated in a criminal case. I think extracting the money for punishment is fine, as long as the money is spent either on counseling or treatment for the victim. When the victim instead goes out and buys houses and cars and lives a lavish lifestyle with that money, that’s problematic.

    @delphi_ote: I see your last rant in referring to 11 year olds and can only presume that you’re referring to my last post, where I referred to kids 11 years younger (than 13) being adept at saying no. Those who can perform simple math clearly see that this refers to 2 year old kids. They are adept at saying “No”, to all sorts of people. Are you saying that you believe that kids lose the ability to say “No” in the ensuing 11 years? I don’t buy it. While kids cannot sign contracts or consent to sex at 13, the idea that they are all mentally disabled to the point that they cannot mount a complaint is not just ridiculous on its face, but insulting. I do deal with 13 year olds (among other teenagers and young adults) on a weekly basis, and I do trust them to be able to speak up and tell me when something is wrong. (They do; I listen; we discuss; we work to find a resolution.)

  152. @corydon76:

    I understand your argument, but you appear to be completely overlooking the kind of power/fear imbalance that is inevitably present in a sex procurement type of situation. Apples and oranges if ever there were.

    Perhaps you are just naive in regards the power imbalance, largely controlled through implicit fear and implicit retribution, between sex providers, their pimps (if they exist), and the clients.

  153. @mrmisconception:

    I’m sorry but you’re wrong. Although the term “statutory rape” is often used by the media to refer to any adult/under sexual age of consent, in the law it only refers to cases where the victim is particularly young. So for example in Florida the age of consent is 18, and have sex with a person under that age is a crime, but it’s only if you have sex with a person aged 12 or under that you’re charged with “sexual battery” – which is the legal term (at least in Florida) for rape. If they are 13 or older, then you’re only charged with sexual battery if they are deemed to either not given consent or are unable to give consent. It’s still a crime to have sex with people aged 13 to 17, but it’s not automatically “rape.” Only people 12 or under are deemed unable to consent to sex. The relevant sections of the law are Florida Statutes 794.011 and 794.05.

  154. @owheelj

    I apologize for accusing you of trying to excuse this bahavior. I realized after I had logged off for the night that your point may have been one of semantics, and this post proves that’s what it was.

    If the word rape isn’t there, it isn’t there and it was sloppy of me to assume that is was.

    That puts me in a rather strange spot though, I have been feeling outraged about how little time he spent in prison, but after seeing what he pled to I’d say it was fair for that charge. I only hope that the other allegations were not plead away and are inventigated in full.

    Human trafficking of all kinds gets overlooked and need to be focused on; if there is anything behind those allegations (as there seems to be) they need to be fully pursued.

  155. corydon76 has obviously never been a 12 year old molested girl. I wish he could feel the fear and paralyzation of a little girl being molested or raped. Saying that little girls can just say no repulses me.

  156. I’m late to this conversation, but do have a couple of comments.

    I understand why the attorneys in this case were highly focused on the age of the girls that Epstein had sex with, because that had a major impact on what he could be charged with. But from a moral perspective, what I find disturbing about the case is Epstein’s clear involvement in human trafficking as a high-paying “consumer.” Probably not in every episode alleged, but definitely in a number of them. You would have to be living under a rock, which Epstein most certainly was not, to be unaware that girls or women who are procured in this manner are, the vast majority of the time, pimped out by violent exploiters who are (a) involved up their eyeballs in organized crime; (b) the ultimate recipients of money paid for the girls’ services; and (c) keeping the girls under control through violence (both sexual and non-sexual), intimidation, theft of passports, and (often) supplying addictive drugs. Having sex with human beings supplied to you by human traffickers is ALWAYS morally wrong, no matter the age or gender of the person who is being served up to you like a piece of meat.

    I can also believe Krauss’s statement that women *he* knows who know Epstein speak of Epstein in glowing terms. The women Krauss knows are probably not the victims of human trafficking, and I expect Epstein behaves very differently towards women he meets professionally and socially – that is, women who have credibility with Epstein’s peer group. These are also women whom Epstein is more likely to perceive as having feelings and intrinsic value, unlike the “whores” he paid to have brought to him. Epstein didn’t get to be a billionaire by being stupid – he knows you don’t shit where you eat.

    Further, I can believe that Epstein may not have been able to tell that the younger girls were in fact underage. I was one of those girls who easily looked 18 when I was 13 (QUITE a while ago now). When I was 11, I had put on makeup for the first time, in part because I had some acne and wearing foundation to hide it made me feel better, and a stranger asked if I was the mother of my seven years’ younger sister. Fortunately, it was a friendly mom on the playground and not some skeevy middle-aged dude who liked hitting on young women. My point is as follows: the fact that he may not have known that some of the girls were underaged, as opposed to merely young enough to be his daughter, in no way diminishes the disgusting and immoral nature of his actions. It simply says to me that he was smart enough to set things up so that it would be difficult for anyone to prove he KNOWINGLY sought the procurement of underage girls.

  157. @John Greg: While I do recognize that sometimes people try to exert power and invoke fear in others, it is not inevitable. If it were inevitable, would we have any rape victims who come forward to the police? We do, and therefore, your assertion fails on the evidence.

    Additionally, we’re not talking about traditional prostitution, where women are held incommunicado from their family and friends. These girls hid the fact that they had sex from their parents, not always from their friends, and they went home at night and to public school during the day. Their parents were not made aware of the sexual activity, they were not paid by Epstein, and they had no communication with Epstein or his employees until after the investigation started. Did the girls have the opportunity to go to the police? Yes, thousands of times over. Did they? Not a single one. How did the investigation get started? Authorities stopped a fight between classmates over money.

    Were the girls victims? Legally, yes. Were Epstein’s actions wrong? Yes, legally, ethically, and morally. Were the girls intimidated by Epstein? The evidence is scarce until AFTER the investigation was underway, and it is the investigation itself that most sexual offenders are motivated to prevent.

    There are other cases for Epstein, but for something like 30-40 girls, these are the facts, and it seems difficult to believe that with all of them, there was a power play that NONE of them were able to overcome.

  158. @eatyourgreens:

    That’s just a link to a lawyers page trying to explain the law to people. If you look at the actual law you’ll see no mention of “statutory rape.”


    The most relevant is this second link;


    2a relating to sex with a person 12 years and younger makes no mention of consent. Sex with a person of this age is essentially regarded as “rape” regardless of their age.

    On the other hand section 3 states that sex with a person older than 13 without their consent is sexual battery.

    Thus having sex with a person of 13 years or more is only deemed “rape” if they do not consent to the sex – as per the traditional definition of the rape. Sex with a person 12 years or younger is deemed “rape” regardless of their consent, because they’re deemed unable to legitimately consent to sex. Sex with anybody under the age of 18 is still a serious crime, but not deemed to be “non-consensual” based purely on the age of the victim.

    @MrMisconception – No worries. I am just being pedantic about the law. My personal opinion is that reports in the media about legal issues almost invariably contain errors, and its thus impossible to form an accurate opinion unless you read the primary evidence (ie. court transcripts and evidence presented in the case). I wouldn’t want to present any kind of opinion as whether Epstein is guilty or innocent of anything, or whether is punishment is just. Every time I see a news report about an issue (legal or otherwise) that I’m familiar with it’s full of so many errors I just don’t trust the media at all.

  159. @Melody: What’s more, I hope you NEVER have to feel the humiliation and shame that a little boy feels when he’s being raped, molested, or otherwise abused. On the other hand, every day that he says “Power was wrenched from my grasp” without following that up with “but I took that power back by reporting my abuser to the authorities and refusing to let him continue to have that power”, he is continuously hurt by his abuser. Yes, there are people who take our power over our own bodies away, but that does NOT mean that we have to stand idly by and do nothing. If you’re still in the victim mentality, I strongly suggest that you get the counseling necessary to take back that power, such that your abuser no longer holds that power over you, and you can look him or her in the face (preferably through the safety glass of a prison window) and tell him that he has lost his power over you.

  160. @DJGrothe: As someone who spent twenty two years investigating child sex crimes and maltreatment … . See how easy it is to offer up excusatory self descriptive language that somehow qualifies what follows? So when I stated that you didn’t have a clue it was based on your apparent ignorance of child sex crimes and exploitation as it related to Epstein and his crimes, and the subsequent support of his friend Krauss; who demonstrated his own abundance of insensitivity and ignorance. You waded into the conversation with statements of understanding for Krauss, even (unknowingly I’m sure) repeating some of the same rhetoric child abusers use to justify their acts. And now you’ve apologized for how your comments may have come across. I’m afraid my reaction to your comments was content and context driven, and the only apparent perception problem still appears to be yours.
    Respectfully ~J

  161. I would go to TAM if I could & be happy to wear a T-shirt to his speech that said “its morally wrong to support child sex traffickers, even when they are your friends”.
    Several rows of people wearing these might get the point across.

    1. Ah, whew. For a second there, I was worried that he spent time in jail because he paid money to exploit minors. Fortunately, he only paid money to exploit minors in a slightly different way.

  162. @mrmisconception: It would be pretty darn clear who the message was referring to. Besides, there is not much point in protesting against unnamed people, is there?

    And, if no names were named, to specifically avoid a lawsuit, then it is simply cowardice to accuse someone of a crime he did not commit.

    Do we get our points across, when protesting against Sylvia Browne (the quintessential bad woo), if we make up false stories about her actions? How “skeptical” is that? How much *thinking* went into that?

    I hope I got my point across. And no false accusations were made, either.

  163. @Claus Larsen:

    Circe suggested statement was: “its morally wrong to support child sex traffickers, even when they are your friends.”

    My question to Claus is, since when is availing oneself of child prostitutes not supporting child sex traffickers?

  164. @John Greg: Since never.

    Trafficking is not about local girls becoming prostitutes.

    Trafficking is specifically about transporting people from one part of the world to another, for the purpose of exploiting them, for various reasons.

  165. @Claus Larsen: I suppose a T-shirt could simply and accurately reflect ones opinion about the facts and say; “I think someone like Krauss, who would defend and suck up to a registered sex offender friend who paid at least 40 girls, some as young as 13, to perform demeaning sexual acts on his person is a jerk”. Just an opinion about the facts there Clause, and not libel in the US.

  166. My daughter is 13. She has a lot of 12, 13, 14 and 15 year old girl fiends who she hangs around with. Never once I have seen any friend of hers who I would remotely think was 18. Anecdotal, yes. Evidence, no. The reality is, though, he should have known better and I am sure he did, but chose to ignore the possibility that he might be having sex with under-aged girls. There is no excuse and for Krauss to defend him like this seriously calls into question Krauss’ ability to think skeptically and without bias. After all, isn’t being skeptical all about weeding out our biases?

  167. @daedalus2u: From the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

    “Can my opinion be defamatory?
    No—but merely labeling a statement as your “opinion” does not make it so. Courts look at whether a reasonable reader or listener could understand the statement as asserting a statement of verifiable fact. (A verifiable fact is one capable of being proven true or false.) This is determined in light of the context of the statement.”

    Read more at http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation

  168. @Claus Larsen: I read more at your link and it appears you should have as well. When it comes to public figures your and my opinions seem fairly well protected.

    “A public figure must show “actual malice”—that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth. This is a difficult standard for a plaintiff to meet. “

  169. @Jacob V: The clear method to use the lesser standard, then, is to dispute whether one qualifies as a public figure. Krauss may be well-known in the skeptical community, as I am in a certain programming community, but I certainly don’t qualify as a public figure, and I doubt Krauss does, either. If you can go up to 10 people in the public street and mention “Lawrence Krauss”, and most say, “Who’s that?”, it’s a fair bet that he is not a public figure.

  170. @corydon76:
    Fortunately, the EFF go on to define ‘public figure’ in the very next paragraph on that page.

    “A public figure is someone who has actively sought, in a given matter of public interest, to influence the resolution of the matter. In addition to the obvious public figures—a government employee, a senator, a presidential candidate—someone may be a limited-purpose public figure. A limited-purpose public figure is one who (a) voluntarily participates in a discussion about a public controversy, and (b) has access to the media to get his or her own view across. One can also be an involuntary limited-purpose public figure—for example, an air traffic controller on duty at time of fatal crash was held to be an involuntary, limited-purpose public figure, due to his role in a major public occurrence.”

  171. Fortunately, the EFF does not get to define legal concepts, it merely describes what has been legal precedent.

    When people want to protest in a certain manner, but have to go to great lengths to avoid a lawsuit in order to do so, perhaps it is time to consider another way to do it.

    Hot-headed protests are rarely effective. Hot-headed protests that land you in trouble are just plain dumb.

    That’s my opinion, of course.

  172. Since Krauss holds himself out as a skeptic, and will be speaking at a meeting of skeptics, then at a meeting of skeptics, i.e. TAM, he is a public figure (imo).

    Also, since the statement was about morality, it is not a matter that can be proven true or false. An opinion about morality is even less facty.

  173. @Claus Larsen:

    There’s nothing to worry about. A t-shirt along the lines of “Friends don’t let friends traffick in underage girls” would not be libel, since Krauss is a public figure in this case.

    I think Jeffrey Epstein is the person who is having to go to great lengths to avoid a lawsuit ;)

  174. A t-shirt with that text would clearly be libel, since Epstein did not engage in trafficking.

    But then, there is always the less facty morality opinion to fall back on. It probably works better, too, playing on emotion, rather than fact.

  175. @CatFurniture: I don’t think the economic argument there makes any sense. Kutcher says “Sex trafficking is an elastic trade.” Okay, I don’t know if that’s true, but for argument’s sake, I’ll accept it. He goes on “If you can raise the price for sex you can actually reduce the demand.” Okay. Then he continues “As you reduce the demand that raises the price.” I thought lowering demand meant lowering the price in an elastic market. I foolishly started to read the comments to see if anyone picked up on this. Somehow they instantly dive into an argument about illegal immigration.

    The campaign may be successful by drawing attention to the issue and and making it less socially acceptable, thus attacking demand, but as far as I know it’s already socially unacceptable.

    Also, I’m pretty weak on pop culture trivia, but wasn’t Demi Moore seriously mocked for marry Ashton Kutcher in the first place because he was so young? Might this cause the whole campaign to backfire? Or will that just make it “fail up?”

  176. “I honestly don’t know who was the victim in this case. probably everyone was a victim, with no happy resolution or consequences of these activities.

    I’m willing to bet that Jeffery had a happy conclusion every time he got serviced. I can’t call him a victim in quite the same way I would describe young women forced into prostitution.

    I fully expect that these masseuses knew what they were doing, and were not swayed to do anything with Jeffrey that they were not already doing.”

    That is one of the most nauseating things I have ever heard a supposedly rational man say in regard to teenaged girls.

  177. Friendship is powerful, friends will stick by their friends through thick and thin. Friends will lie for friends. Seriously? You really think people are that stupid to believe that people just made these claims about Jeffrey to gain money? I find it appalling how you made claims earlier that no such events (molestation) happened and then took the time to investigate into them. ‘I am naturally skeptical by nature, and have looked in to a number of these supposed events, but am not going to share any details with you because I don’t think these are issues that are relevant to Jeffrey’s support of science, my scientific credentials etc.. or that I should discuss in public in any case’. You are the perfect example cognitive dissonance. You are one more person that I would definitely keep my children far, far away from.

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