The Current

Conspiracy theories over Jeffrey Epstein's death will always move faster than evidence: expert

We discuss why the death of Jeffrey Epstein has spawned a rash of conspiracy theories. One expert tells us that while social media may have played a role in spreading the theories, the simple fact is that evidence moves slowly, and chatter moves fast.

Spread of theories not surprising, says Preston Bost

Jeffrey Epstein appears in court in West Palm Beach, Fla. in 2008. Epstein has died by suicide while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (Uma Sanghvi/Palm Beach Post/Associated Press)

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The prison death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein prompted a rash of online conspiracy theories, but one expert said that social media itself isn't the cause.

"The emergence of conspiracy theories here was unsurprising, even though the speed of them was really breathtaking to me," said Preston Bost, professor of psychology at Wabash College, Ind.

But he told The Current's guest host Duncan McCue that the thing to remember is "that evidence moves slowly, and chatter moves really quickly."

"While we're waiting for sometimes complicated evidence to emerge during the investigation, it's very easy to think about who did what to whom, and why, right?" he said. 

"It's very easy for the human mind to ask the questions of: 'Well, who might have had a reason to do away with this man, and how might they have profited by it?'"

Epstein was found dead in his jail cell of an apparent suicide last weekend. The results of an autopsy have not officially been made public. But according to the Washington Post, an autopsy report showed broken bones in his neck, fuelling further speculation. 

To discuss those theories, and how conspiracy theories take root in the first place, McCue was joined by: 

  • Anna North, senior reporter at Vox.
  • Preston Bost, professor of psychology at Wabash College, Ind.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Howard Goldenthal and Allie Jaynes.