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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  11:12:59  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There is a bit of a scandal brewing in the skeptic community over remarks made by physicist and skeptic Lawrence Krauss in defense of his friend, Jeffrey Epstein, who served time for paying underage prostitutes to... well... you know. He is a convicted sex offender.

It’s worth checking out the Skepchic blog by Rebecca Watson for the real lowdown on what’s going on:

Lawrence Krauss Defends a Sex Offender, Embarrasses Scientists Everywhere
It opens:

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…
Read on.

Also weighing in is PZ Myers who has had Krauss guest blog on over at Pharyngula . You can read Myers comments here.

Basically Myers asks to be slapped down if he ever gets the urge to do what Krauss is doing.

Skeptics are falling in on both sides of the issue, or taking a wait and see approach. You can read D.J. Grothe’s comment under the Skepchic blog, and I happen to know that some other prominent skeptics are taking a pretty hard line on this.

Anyhow, there it is.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  11:53:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have no problem with a zero tolerance policy for sex offenders, especially if it involves minors.

But I'm not so sure about comming down hard on a guy for defending a friend. His statements are also being taken way out of context, he is saying that he never saw the guy with underage girls. Its absurd to say he is "using science" to defend a child sex offender. Bad reasoning, maybe. There does appear to be a lot of evidence against the guy, but no one is immune to emotional thinking all the time.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  12:16:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

Its absurd to say he is "using science" to defend a child sex offender.
Krauss said,
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.
He's invoking a strict empiricist version of science over the details that Epstein admitted to in the plea agreement.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  13:14:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Dude

Its absurd to say he is "using science" to defend a child sex offender.
Krauss said,
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.
He's invoking a strict empiricist version of science over the details that Epstein admitted to in the plea agreement.

He is making a fool of himself, he is ignoring evidence, and he is making a bad argument, but to say that he is "using science" seems to be going too far.

Its an emotional argument made in defense of a friend. Unless everyone criticizing him is now going to take a vow to never make emotional arguments, ever, then they are just being dicks for the sake of being dicks when they accuse him of "using science" to defend this guy.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  14:47:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

He is making a fool of himself, he is ignoring evidence, and he is making a bad argument, but to say that he is "using science" seems to be going too far.
Krauss is the one who claimed to be "using science." That's why he, in Watson's words, "Embarrasses Scientists Everywhere." Surely Dr. Krauss knows that there's a difference between "none of the girls I saw looked under 18" and a scientific determination of that fact that he attempted to portray the former as.
Its an emotional argument made in defense of a friend. Unless everyone criticizing him is now going to take a vow to never make emotional arguments, ever, then they are just being dicks for the sake of being dicks when they accuse him of "using science" to defend this guy.
Had Krauss admitted that his early remarks about "science" were dumb and emotional, maybe. But he instead has stood by them, and even called into question the motives of Epstein's accusers.

If I make a dumb emotional argument, I expect to be called on it. And I would further expect that the more I tried to defend my dumb, emotional arguments (especially with dumber arguments), the less respect I would have in this community. Because when you boil away all the fluff, all we have around here are our arguments and our intellectual integrity.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  16:14:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
When Pauling said it was a good idea to take megadoses of Vitamin-C, no one accused him of "using science" to assert the truth of an unevidenced claim. They did call him out on the bad thinking involved though.

Smart people can also say stupid shit sometimes. They can also back themselves into a corner and ruin their credibility if they don't recognize and acknowledge legitimate criticism.

If he continues to defend those statements after he's had a chance to cool off and think about it.... then the knives can, and should, come out.

Seems to me that people are overly anxious to throw him under the bus.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 04/07/2011 :  20:32:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

When Pauling said it was a good idea to take megadoses of Vitamin-C, no one accused him of "using science" to assert the truth of an unevidenced claim.
If he'd said that as a scientist, his mere observations of a handful of people getting better after megadoses of Vitamin C constituted a scientific conclusion, then people sure should have called him out on "invoking the name of science" to defend his crappy reasoning. Nobody is complaining that Krauss is "using science" (a phrase you introduced to this thread), but instead that he's trying to pass off his bad reasoning as a scientific conclusion, on his authority as a scientist.
Smart people can also say stupid shit sometimes. They can also back themselves into a corner and ruin their credibility if they don't recognize and acknowledge legitimate criticism.

If he continues to defend those statements after he's had a chance to cool off and think about it.... then the knives can, and should, come out.

Seems to me that people are overly anxious to throw him under the bus.
Krauss has had almost three years to come to grips with the emotional kick-in-the-nuts of a good friend and sponsor being jailed after being accused of paying for sex and statutory rape. The only reason we're talking about this now is that Krauss' "science" quotes were in an article published last Friday. If, instead of...
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.
...Krauss had instead said...
I've never seen him with women I knew to be under 19, and he's earned my trust over the years, so my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people, but we'll all know more as the lawsuits work their way through the courts.
...then "Krauss is friends with that sleazy Epstein guy" might be all that anyone remembered from this episode.

A similar result might have occurred if he'd passed off those original comments as an attempt to get across to the reporter the importance Krauss places on primary evidence only it didn't come out quite right in off-the-cuff remarks (and he really meant blah-blah-blah), but he blew that chance by telling Watson that he wasn't taken out of context and further defending his friend by suggesting that Epstein might be a victim of the women suing him.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2011 :  08:17:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
DJ Grothe regrets the timing and context of his earlier comment on SkepChick.


- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2011 :  10:26:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For all practical purposes I see no difference between "using science" and "invoking the name of science" in this conversation.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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the_ignored
SFN Addict

2557 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2011 :  11:01:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send the_ignored a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'll side with the evidence: If it turns out that this is what the guy was doing, then nail him with the full extent of the law. I like Myer's view: If I ever get like that, if for some reason I ever get the potential to do that, may someone kill me before I do something like that. (I know, Myers didn't go that far, but still).

>From: enuffenuff@fastmail.fm
(excerpt follows):
> I'm looking to teach these two bastards a lesson they'll never forget.
> Personal visit by mates of mine. No violence, just a wee little chat.
>
> **** has also committed more crimes than you can count with his
> incitement of hatred against a religion. That law came in about 2007
> much to ****'s ignorance. That is fact and his writing will become well
> know as well as him becoming a publicly known icon of hatred.
>
> Good luck with that fuckwit. And Reynold, fucking run, and don't stop.
> Disappear would be best as it was you who dared to attack me on my
> illness knowing nothing of the cause. You disgust me and you are top of
> the list boy. Again, no violence. Just regular reminders of who's there
> and visits to see you are behaving. Nothing scary in reality. But I'd
> still disappear if I was you.

What brought that on? this. Original posting here.

Another example of this guy's lunacy here.
Edited by - the_ignored on 04/08/2011 11:02:58
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2011 :  12:51:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
For all practical purposes I see no difference between "using science" and "invoking the name of science" in this conversation.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26001 Posts

Posted - 04/08/2011 :  17:50:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude

For all practical purposes I see no difference between "using science" and "invoking the name of science" in this conversation.
Perhaps there isn't. The fact remains that he tried to pass off an "I wasn't aware of any wrongdoing" defense of his friend as scientific. If he hadn't done so, I don't think he'd be catching all the heat from skeptics.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2011 :  05:33:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Weird double post, I was using my phone..... maybe the mobile browser sent it again later? I dunno.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2011 :  12:29:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Blogs on She Thought and Indie Skeptics on the subject:


Skepticism: Tits or GTFO?*


Rights and Wrongs

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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doctor gachet
Sockpuppet

2 Posts

Posted - 04/09/2011 :  14:44:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send doctor gachet a Private Message  Reply with Quote
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.


That goes beyond tawdry right into sleazy. He deserves all the negative attention he's garnished. If that is science, then Roman Polanski is Werner Von Braun.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 05/23/2011 :  00:49:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
From a new blog called Skepticism and Ethics that Jeff Wagg has been promiting, the first essay published has to do with Lawrence Krauss's defense of his friend, Jeffrey Epstein.

A small voice says, "Please stop," while the crowd yells, "Off with his head!"


Please read the whole thing.

...I kept asking myself, "What am I missing? Why can't I see what seems so black and white to everyone else?" Here was a man who was routinely called a pedophile and sexual predator in the press, but every time I looked for facts to back up those assertions, I came away less than convinced of the reported accusations. There was no trial, so what evidence there was didn't get a full hearing. There were court filings, but those were allegations for the civil suits, so they, too, had not been tested in court. A number of the witnesses turned out to be rather shady themselves, and unfortunately, even some of the girls lacked credibility. This was a lot messier, and a lot grayer, than what I'd seen on Skepchick and other skeptic blogs.

I came to the conclusion, based on the evidence I could find, that Dr. Krauss's description of the situation was plausible, and therefore reasonable. The girls had been informed of what to expect before going to Epstein's house and were told to lie about their ages; some went back multiple times, and some brought friends. There was no substantive evidence of any international sex trafficking or island orgies. Nor was there evidence that Epstein used his wealth and influence to obstruct the proceedings, just suspicions. He even admitted in one interview that he had behaved inappropriately and was not blameless. And the plea agreement meant that the girls were at least spared from having to be witnesses, subject to cross-examination by high-powered attorneys intent on destroying their credibility.

I'm upset about those girls; even if they hadn't been brought to Epstein's house by force, what sort of lives did they have that they would involve themselves in something like this? Perhaps the settlements will provide them with the opportunity to take a better path than the one they were on before meeting Epstein. If that happens, then something positive will result from this sordid affair.

Epstein is no saint, but he doesn't appear to be the monster he has been made out to be. And Dr. Krauss isn't a self-justifying, sold-out dupe, since the evidence I found supports his claims. I could be wrong about Epstein, and if substantive evidence does turn up, I will reconsider my opinion. Dr. Krauss says essentially the same thing. We have both done our best to reach a provisional conclusion based on evidence. Isn't that being skeptical?...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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