[Marxism] Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA
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Thu Aug 1 08:01:51 MDT 2019
NY Times, August 1, 2019
Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA
By James B. Stewart, Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg
Jeffrey E. Epstein, the wealthy financier who is accused of sex
trafficking, had an unusual dream: He hoped to seed the human race with
his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch.
Mr. Epstein over the years confided to scientists and others about his
scheme, according to four people familiar with his thinking, although
there is no evidence that it ever came to fruition.
Mr. Epstein’s vision reflected his longstanding fascination with what
has become known as transhumanism: the science of improving the human
population through technologies like genetic engineering and artificial
intelligence. Critics have likened transhumanism to a modern-day version
of eugenics, the discredited field of improving the human race through
Mr. Epstein, who was charged in July with the sexual trafficking of
girls as young as 14, was a serial illusionist: He lied about the
identities of his clients, his wealth, his financial prowess, his
personal achievements. But he managed to use connections and charisma to
cultivate valuable relationships with business and political leaders.
Interviews with more than a dozen of his acquaintances, as well as
public documents, show that he used the same tactics to insinuate
himself into an elite scientific community, thus allowing him to pursue
his interests in eugenics and other fringe fields like cryonics.
Lawyers for Mr. Epstein, who has pleaded not guilty to the
sex-trafficking charges, did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Epstein attracted a glittering array of prominent scientists. They
included the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who
discovered the quark; the theoretical physicist and best-selling author
Stephen Hawking; the paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Stephen
Jay Gould; Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and best-selling author; George
M. Church, a molecular engineer who has worked to identify genes that
could be altered to create superior humans; and the M.I.T. theoretical
physicist Frank Wilczek, a Nobel laureate.
The lure for some of the scientists was Mr. Epstein’s money. He dangled
financing for their pet projects. Some of the scientists said that the
prospect of financing blinded them to the seriousness of his sexual
transgressions, and even led them to give credence to some of Mr.
Epstein’s half-baked scientific musings.
Scientists gathered at dinner parties at Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan
mansion, where Dom Pérignon and expensive wines flowed freely, even
though Mr. Epstein did not drink. He hosted buffet lunches at Harvard’s
Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, which he had helped start with a $6.5
Others flew to conferences sponsored by Mr. Epstein in the United States
Virgin Islands and were feted on his private island there. Once, the
scientists — including Mr. Hawking — crowded on board a submarine that
Mr. Epstein had chartered.
The Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker said he was invited by
colleagues — including Martin Nowak, a Harvard professor of mathematics
and biology, and the theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss — to “salons
and coffee klatsches” at which Mr. Epstein would hold court.
While some of Mr. Pinker’s peers hailed Mr. Epstein as brilliant, Mr.
Pinker described him as an “intellectual impostor.”
“He would abruptly change the subject, A.D.D.-style, dismiss an
observation with an adolescent wisecrack,” Mr. Pinker said.
Another scientist cultivated by Mr. Epstein, Jaron Lanier, a prolific
author who is a founder of virtual reality, said that Mr. Epstein’s
ideas did not amount to science, in that they did not lend themselves to
rigorous proof. Mr. Lanier said Mr. Epstein had once hypothesized that
atoms behaved like investors in a marketplace.
Mr. Lanier said he had declined any funding from Mr. Epstein and that he
had met with him only once after Mr. Epstein in 2008 pleaded guilty to
charges of soliciting prostitution from a minor.
Harvard’s Steven Pinker was one of the scientific luminaries who met
with Mr. Epstein.CreditKayana Szymczak for The New York Times
Mr. Epstein was willing to finance research that others viewed as
bizarre. He told one scientist that he was bankrolling efforts to
identify a mysterious particle that might trigger the feeling that
someone is watching you.
At one session at Harvard, Mr. Epstein criticized efforts to reduce
starvation and provide health care to the poor because doing so
increased the risk of overpopulation, said Mr. Pinker, who was there.
Mr. Pinker said he had rebutted the argument, citing research showing
that high rates of infant mortality simply caused people to have more
children. Mr. Epstein seemed annoyed, and a Harvard colleague later told
Mr. Pinker that he had been “voted off the island” and was no longer
welcome at Mr. Epstein’s gatherings.
Then there was Mr. Epstein’s interest in eugenics.
On multiple occasions starting in the early 2000s, Mr. Epstein told
scientists and businessmen about his ambitions to use his New Mexico
ranch as a base where women would be inseminated with his sperm and
would give birth to his babies, according to two award-winning
scientists and an adviser to large companies and wealthy individuals,
all of whom Mr. Epstein told about it.
It was not a secret. The adviser, for example, said he was told about
the plans not only by Mr. Epstein, at a gathering at his Manhattan
townhouse, but also by at least one prominent member of the business
community. One of the scientists said Mr. Epstein divulged his idea in
2001 at a dinner at the same townhouse; the other recalled Mr. Epstein
discussing it with him at a 2006 conference that he hosted in St. Thomas
in the Virgin Islands.
The idea struck all three as far-fetched and disturbing. There is no
indication that it would have been against the law.
Once, at a dinner at Mr. Epstein’s mansion on Manhattan’s Upper East
Side, Mr. Lanier said he talked to a scientist who told him that Mr.
Epstein’s goal was to have 20 women at a time impregnated at his
33,000-square-foot Zorro Ranch in a tiny town outside Santa Fe. Mr.
Lanier said the scientist identified herself as working at NASA, but he
did not remember her name.
According to Mr. Lanier, the NASA scientist said Mr. Epstein had based
his idea for a baby ranch on accounts of the Repository for Germinal
Choice, which was to be stocked with the sperm of Nobel laureates who
wanted to strengthen the human gene pool. (Only one Nobel Prize winner
has acknowledged contributing sperm to it. The repository discontinued
operations in 1999.)
Mr. Lanier, the virtual-reality creator and author, said he had the
impression that Mr. Epstein was using the dinner parties — where some
guests were attractive women with impressive academic credentials — to
screen candidates to bear Mr. Epstein’s children.
Mr. Epstein did not hide his interest in tinkering with genes — and in
perpetuating his own DNA.
One adherent of transhumanism said that he and Mr. Epstein discussed the
financier’s interest in cryonics, an unproven science in which people’s
bodies are frozen to be brought back to life in the future. Mr. Epstein
told this person that he wanted his head and penis to be frozen.
Southern Trust Company, Mr. Epstein’s Virgin Island-incorporated
business, disclosed in a local filing that it was engaged in DNA
analysis. Calls to Southern Trust, which sponsored a science and math
fair for school children in the Virgin Islands in 2014, were not returned.
In 2011, a charity established by Mr. Epstein gave $20,000 to the
Worldwide Transhumanist Association, which now operates under the name
Humanity Plus. The group’s website says that its goal is “to deeply
influence a new generation of thinkers who dare to envision humanity’s
Mr. Epstein’s foundation, which is now defunct, also gave $100,000 to
pay the salary of Ben Goertzel, vice chairman of Humanity Plus,
according to Mr. Goertzel’s résumé.
“I have no desire to talk about Epstein right now,” Mr. Goertzel said in
an email to The New York Times. “The stuff I’m reading about him in the
papers is pretty disturbing and goes way beyond what I thought his
misdoings and kinks were. Yecch.”
Alan M. Dershowitz, a professor emeritus of law at Harvard, recalled
that at a lunch Mr. Epstein hosted in Cambridge, Mass., he steered the
conversation toward the question of how humans could be improved
genetically. Mr. Dershowitz said he was appalled, given the Nazis’ use
of eugenics to justify their genocidal effort to purify the Aryan race.
Yet the lunches persisted.
“Everyone speculated about whether these scientists were more interested
in his views or more interested in his money,” said Mr. Dershowitz, who
was one of Mr. Epstein’s defense lawyers in the 2008 case.
Luminaries at Mr. Epstein’s St. Thomas conference in 2006 included Mr.
Hawking and the Caltech theoretical physicist Kip S. Thorne. One
participant at that conference, which was ostensibly on the subject of
gravity, recalled that Mr. Epstein wanted to talk about perfecting the
human genome. Mr. Epstein said he was fascinated with how certain traits
were passed on, and how that could result in superior humans.
Mr. Epstein appears to have gained entree into the scientific community
through John Brockman, a literary agent whose best-selling science
writers include Richard Dawkins, Daniel Goleman and Jared Diamond. Mr.
Brockman did not respond to requests for comment.
For two decades, Mr. Brockman presided over a series of salons that
matched his scientist-authors with potential benefactors. (The so-called
“billionaires’ dinners” apparently became a model for the gatherings at
Mr. Epstein’s East 71st Street townhouse, which included some of the
In 2004, Mr. Brockman hosted a dinner at the Indian Summer restaurant in
Monterey, Calif., where Mr. Epstein was introduced to scientists,
including Seth Lloyd, the M.I.T. physicist. Mr. Lloyd said that he found
Mr. Epstein to be “charming” and to have “interesting ideas,” although
they “turned out to be quite vague.”
Also at the Indian Summer dinner, according to an account on the website
of Mr. Brockman’s Edge Foundation, were the Google founders Sergey Brin
and Larry Page and Jeff Bezos, who was accompanied by his mother.
“All the good-looking women were sitting with the physicists’ table,”
Daniel Dubno, who was a CBS producer at the time and attended the
dinner, was quoted as saying. Mr. Dubno told The Times that he did not
recall the dinner or having said those words.
Mr. Brockman was Mr. Gell-Mann’s agent, and Mr. Gell-Mann, in the
acknowledgments section of his 1995 book “The Quark and the Jaguar,”
thanked Mr. Epstein for his financial support.
However impressive his roster of scientific contacts, Mr. Epstein could
not resist embellishing it. He claimed on one of his websites to have
had “the privilege of sponsoring many prominent scientists,” including
Mr. Pinker, Mr. Thorne and the M.I.T. mathematician and geneticist Eric
Mr. Pinker said he had never taken any financial or other support from
Mr. Epstein. “Needless to say, I find Epstein’s behavior reprehensible,”
Mr. Thorne, who recently won a Nobel Prize, said he attended Mr.
Epstein’s 2006 conference, believing it to be co-sponsored by a
reputable research center. Other than that, “I have had no contact with,
relationship with, affiliation with or funding from Epstein,” he said.
“I unequivocally condemn his abhorrent actions involving minors.”
Lee McGuire, a spokesman for Mr. Lander, said he has had no relationship
with Mr. Epstein. “Mr. Epstein appears to have made up lots of things,”
Mr. McGuire said, “and this seems to be among them.”
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