Epstein’s friends from the ‘Reality Club’

New York magazine has published an alphabetised list of the names of people that find mention in Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘black book’, a log book of sorts in which he kept track of the people he entertained, including at his residence and onboard his private jet, both venues of Epstein’s horrible exploitation of young women. The first name on the list is “Allen, Woody” and the last, “Zuckerman, Mort”; somewhere in between, there’s this about the ‘Reality Club’:

What seems new, in flipping through the reams of society photos of perhaps the world’s most prolific sexual predator that have been circulating over the past few weeks, is not the powerful and the beautiful who surrounded Epstein, but the intellectuals — the Richard Dawkinses, the Daniel Dennetts, the Steven Pinkers. All men, of course. But the group selfies probably shouldn’t have been a surprise — documents of an age in which every millionaire doesn’t just fancy himself a philosopher-king but expects to be treated as such, and every public intellectual wants to be seen as a kind of celebrity.

On point. The rituals of scholarship haven’t spared any man from the temptations of misplaced self-importance, if not outright power; in fact, on many occasions they have been the means to accrue it. Just ask Jorge Domínguez, Jeff Galindo, William V. Harris, Jason Lieb, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Katze, Geoff Marcy, Christian Ott, Thomas Pogge, John R. Searle or, perhaps most recently, Inder Verma – all of whom were passively protected by a network of academic institutions that financially benefited from the presence of these men on their campuses even as they continued to sexually harass, allegedly or decidedly, their coworkers and/or students. (Pinker and Dawkins have only helped this conclusion along with their displays of “poor scholarship” and “unthinking certitude”.)