Epstein and The Private Funding of Research

And Epstein still didn’t kill himself. This article is from the upcoming, September 2020, edition of Scientific American. Jeffrey Epstein’s Harvard Connections Show How Money Can Distort Research: Letting the rich pay for science that interests them is a bad idea—even if they aren’t convicted sex offenders.

So before he didn’t kill himself, but after he was a convicted sex-offender, Harvard took a lot of money from him, gave him a position, and let him influence research.

What made it even worse was that Epstein was a latter-day eugenicist whose interests were tied to a delusional notion of seeding the human race with his own DNA. Given this stance, it is particularly disturbing that he focused his largesse on research on the genetic basis of human behavior. Human genetics is an ethically sensitive and intellectually contested domain where it behooves us to ensure that the highest standards of scientific rigor are in place and that nongenetic explanations for behavior are given a fair chance to compete.

Scientists might claim that Epstein’s money in no way caused them to lower their standards, but we have broad evidence that the interests of funders often influence the work done. The New York Times concluded that in this case it led researchers “to give credence to some of Mr. Epstein’s half-baked scientific musings.”

For a Scientific American article, this one is not too long, but worth your time.