There’s been a lot of news about our elite universities lately. All of its been bad. Let’s do a rundown.
On January 31, 2019, the Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, submitted a thick file to the court concerning the state’s case against the Sackler Family and Purdue Pharma, their private company. The suit takes cognizance of the fact that when the Sackler family began to market and distribute oxycontin, it did so with criminal disregard both for the way its delivery system could be easily hacked and with previous protocols about the administration of opioids for pain cases. This is well known. Less well known is the memoranda concerning the role Tufts university played in credentialing Purdue Pharma’s “philosophy” of pain management, ie credentialing propaganda for pushing the drug on millions of Americans via doctors.
Tufts, it seems, had developed a synergy with the Sacklers. After getting millions in Sackler money, Tufts was happy to allow Purdue personnel, like Dr. David Haddox, to lecture at the School of Medicine’s pain center. The brunt of Haddox’s lectures was that oxycontin was not addictive. Another Tufts professor, Dr. Daniel Carr, according to Stat magazine, which does investigative journalism in healthcare, reviewed the bountiful relationship Tufts had with the Sacklers in 2009 – after, one recalls, the first courtroom case against Purdue in Virginia in 2007. Carr founded the Sacklers wonderful, and he was able to make his views known at the Pain Center first as a faculty member and then as a director. Like the Sacklers, who apparently schemed to double their money with an anti-addiction drug that would parallel oxy, Carr jumped from propagandizing for the family to organizing conferences on addiction.
Given the gravity of the charges against Tufts, Tufts administrators have decided to investigate themselves. Who knows what they will find?
MIT ended an exciting year in 2018 when it also investigated itself. This happened after Jamal Khashoggie was dissected in vivo under the order of Prince Mohammed bin Salam. MIT had gladly given itself as a PR site for bin Salam’s tour of America, where no questions were asked about bin Salam’s strategy of starving to death the population of Yemen. After the investigation, MIT was satisfied that it had no reasons to cut ties with the Saudis.
This year, in fact last Friday, we learned a little something about the famed MIT AI laboratory and its director, the late Marvin Minsky. We learned that as a guest and friend of Jeffrey Epstein, Minsky, 76, was introduced to one of Epstein’s girls, 17, and had sex with her. Also called statutory rape. But this story, sensational as it is, rather disguises the fact that Minksy organized a couple of conferences on Epstein’s island even after he was convicted in 2008 of “soliciting” an underaged “prostitute”. Now a question one might want to pose, here, is what kind of setting is this for women in AI? Is it, perhaps, slightly, oh just slightly, discriminatory? Or did that matter because all the attendees were men? Here’s an account of one of the conferences from an attendee:
“Epstein’s former neighbor, the psychologist and computer scientist Roger Schank, describes another such event that he attended: a meeting of artificial-intelligence experts, organized by Marvin Minsky and held on Epstein’s island in April 2002. “Epstein walks into the conference with two girls on his arm,” said Schank. The scientists were holding their discussions in a small room, and as they talked, “[Epstein] was in the back, on a couch, hugging and kissing these girls.”
Harvard, of course, just keeps popping up in the Jeffrey Epstein narrative. But no larger questions seemed to be asked. So let’s broaden the scope.
Epstein gave his largest donation to Harvard in 2004. Who was president of Harvard in 2004? Larry Summers. Summers, it appears, was a plane mate of Jeffrey Epstein, and perhaps they talked about sex roles – after all, Epstein seemed to like to talk about how he’d like to inseminate a suitable 20 women with his genes on his New Mexico ranch. Whatever. In 2005, Summers got in trouble for suggesting that perhaps women are genetically deficient in mathematics in relation to men. He then proposed that women couldn’t be discriminated against in science at Harvard, for then they would go elsewhere, and in the perfect market of academia Harvard would lose out.
The man was full of such fudge.
The donation Epstein gave was to something called the Program for Evolutionary dynamics. Now, usually, a donor gives money and the University uses it – but this time, Harvard allowed college dropout Epstein carte blanche to attend seminars, bs with the scientists, and make himself a niche at Harvard, all the way up to 2014.
We have some documents then, memoranda about such things as meetings that Epstein would have with Joi Ito, Reid Hoffman and Martin Nowak about the program. Count the women there. None? You are correct! This could not be because of discrimination because of genes and such. Oh, and Epstein’s contributions consisted of things like defending eugenics and worrying that overpopulation would require starving millions to get us back shipshape. All very scientific, things women wouldn’t understand.
Almost every science scholar whom he’s said to have courted or supported is a man: Lawrence Krauss, Marvin Minsky, and Roger Schank; also Gregory Benford, George Church, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Jay Gould, David Gross, Stephen Hawking, Danny Hillis, Gerard ’t Hooft, Stephen Kosslyn, Jaron Lanier, Seth Lloyd, Martin Nowak, Oliver Sacks, Lee Smolin, Robert Trivers, Frank Wilczek, and more. Truly, the list of men goes on and on. (Among the only women I can find in this group is Harvard’s Anne Harrington, who took a grant from Epstein around 1998.) Lanier told the New York Times that when well-credentialed women did show up at Epstein’s genius gatherings, he wondered if it might be so they could be screened as potential breeding partners. It was one of these women, he said, who described Epstein’s 20-at-a-time breeding project in New Mexico. Lanier could not recall her name (and did not mention Harrington).
So, three scoundrelly instititions.
In the case of Tufts, surely the university should be put in receivership, those profiting from the addicting of America should be prosecuted, and those running Tufts during this time should be held liable. MIT should certainly have to respond to questions about its AI lab, and Harvard – well, if there was a truly strong Academic Association that worked on credentialing and sexism, Harvard should be suspended until it can prove it has solved its misogynistic ways.
These things, we know, are not going to happen. What we should remember from the Jeffrey Epstein episode is that the feminist critique of universities and the #metoo movement have been much too moderate. Universities are the credentialing mills at the center of creating an unequal, racist and sexist society. At the center of the center is an administrative culture more intent on squeezing money from alumni than education. That money, remember, is tax free. Harvard has a 20 billion to 40 billion dollar endowment on which it pays no taxes.
We need to end this system.