Jeffrey Epstein is an even more disturbing character than his arrest on sex-trafficking charges suggests, according to a report in the New York Times. Sources say the billionaire financier used his wealth and influence to build connections with prominent scientists, and he spoke to some of them about his interest in eugenics—and his plans to "improve" the human gene pool by seeding it with his DNA. The sources say Epstein, who is accused of abusing dozens of girls, planned to turn his large property in New Mexico into a "baby ranch" where he would keep around 20 women at a time, all of them impregnated by him. Virtual reality scientist Jaron Lanier says he got the impression that many of the women at parties in Epstein's mansion were there so the billionaire could assess their suitability for the project.
Epstein flew scientists including Stephen Hawking to conferences at his private island in the US Virgin Islands, the sources say. They say Epstein attracted some scientists by offering funding for their private projects—and in return, the scientists paid attention to Epstein's far-fetched and "half-baked" ideas. Harvard cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker tells the Times he was invited to some of Epstein's gatherings, but colleagues told him he was "voted off the island" and no longer welcome after he challenged Epstein's assertion that providing health care to poor people was a bad idea because of the risk of overpopulation. Pinker says that while some colleagues thought Epstein was brilliant, he considered him to be an "intellectual impostor" with a short attention span. Another source says Epstein had an abiding interest in cryonics and spoke about having his head—and penis—frozen after his death. (Epstein made his fortune with the help of a very unusual arrangement.)