Long Read, Science / Tech, Top Stories

The Death of a Dreamer

The following is a lightly adapted extract from Will Storr’s latest book Selfie: How We Became So Self-Obsessed and What It’s Doing to Us, Picador (June 15, 2017), 416 pages. 

Imagine that it were possible to create the perfect human. The process would be like making an app, but instead of computer code, your design language would be DNA. You’d do the creating itself on your smartphone—using a piece of software called a Genome Compiler—then email what you’d come up with to a laboratory. Technicians in that lab would manufacture the DNA, per your instructions, dry it out, then send it back to you. After all, DNA isn’t alive. It’s a polymer, an arrangement of four different chemicals. Theoretically, from that DNA, it would be possible to construct the most advanced forms of life. You could make your human a super-genius, immune to all kinds of diseases. You could even make them live forever. After all, we only age and die because the DNA program we’re running—our human code—contains an instruction to do so. Just get rid of it. Rewrite it. Why not?

This was the dream of a visionary young entrepreneur named Austen Heinz. At school, back in North Carolina, Heinz had been bullied, sometimes badly—the combination of his physical slightness and social illiteracy had seen to that. He was bad at reading people. He had a kind of genius for absorbing large amounts of complex information at great speed, but when he arrived at an opinion, often after a period of intense labour, he’d announce it provocatively and unapologetically. He’d found it difficult to find friends and he’d struggled with his mental health. But now, at the age of 30, he was living a few blocks from his own laboratory, in a high-rise apartment in San Francisco’s tech district, looking out over 180-degree views of the Bay Bridge, the AT&T ballpark and the stunning harbour, everything seemed to be coming together. Among the Silicon Valley cognoscenti, Heinz was seen as a major rising talent. His idea and his company, Cambrian Genomics, was about to change everything. Of that he felt sure. As he’d tell investors and journalists again and again, the tools they were developing would one day be more powerful than the hydrogen bomb.

Austen Heinz (Pic courtesy of Adrienne Heinz)

He didn’t even think we should stop at redesigning humans. We could design and create any form of life. In the future, he believed, we wouldn’t leave it to messy nature just to plop everything out, riven, as it always is, with all those hundreds of thousands of little genetic imperfections that add up to sadness, illness, and death. Everything would be synthetic, designed for purpose, including our children, including us. The only things that would limit us would be our DNA programming abilities and our imaginations. Everything alive is made up of just 20 different amino acids. Why not expand the range? Make some new ones? Incorporate metals, say, into plants or animals? Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the problems we could solve. And, eventually, we wouldn’t even need to use Cambrian Genomics’ expensive equipment.

Not everyone was convinced of the viability of Heinz’s ambitions. Some found his speculations about the possibilities offered by synthetic genomics hopelessly quixotic. But others continue to believe that history will one day crown Heinz one of the heirs of information age visionary Doug Engelbart—a restless, optimistic, socially-maladjusted prophet of the oncoming Synthetic Age in which the project isn’t to augment human intelligence, but humans themselves. His supporters argue that the future foretold by Cambrian Genomics will not necessarily be the dystopia critics fear. By curing all disease, living forever, and solving some of the planet’s most enduring technical problems without destroying it in the process, Heinz speculated that we could considerably reduce the sum of human suffering and unhappiness. It’s true, of course, that only the lunatic talks earnestly of paradise. But how crazy do you have to be to think that with this technology, we could move ourselves an inch, even a mile, towards it?

Not only was Austen Heinz convinced that all this was going to happen, he was sure he knew how to do it. This was at the end of 2014. In less than six months, he would be dead.

*     *     *

It was at Duke University, whilst working on a synthetic biology research project, that Heinz came up with a new and efficient way of producing usable DNA that reduced the cost from tens of thousands of dollars to just a few. “Everyone else that makes DNA, makes DNA incorrectly and then tries to fix it,” he said. “We don’t fix it. We just see what’s good, what’s bad and then we use the correct pieces.” This drastic reduction in cost would enable them to treat DNA like we treat data—as cheap to make and emailable, programmable. When he was in his mid-20s, at Seoul National University in South Korea, Heinz developed his concept of a “printer for DNA,” then decided that progress would be more rapid in the private sector. At 27, he returned to the United States with some bridges burned and $300 to fund his vision. He was just another West Coast brain convinced he was going to change the world.

As a kind of trial run for his technology, he and some colleagues decided to create a glowing shrub by copying some DNA code from a firefly, printing it out, and inserting it into the cells of a plant. Their test worked. Their hybrid plant glowed in the dark. They decided to put it on sale. The $10,000 they spent on a promotional video was quickly recouped: they took in almost $60,000 on their first day of sales and $484,013 within six weeks, with orders eventually building towards $1,000,000. He founded Cambrian Genomics and raised $10,000,000 from venture capitalists including PayPal billionaire Peter Thiel. His company began partnering with major international corporations, such as Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as some smaller start-ups.

One of these was Sweet Peach, which had been founded by Audrey Hutchinson, a young biology student and Distinguished Scientist scholarship recipient at New York’s Bard College. After suffering a series of painful urinary tract infections, Hutchinson had become interested in vaginal health. Hearing about his work, she emailed Heinz with her idea for a company that would use Cambrian Genomics tech to manufacture vaginal probiotics. Customers would send in a swab that would be genetically sequenced. Once the specific microbial species that made up their particular bacterial community was analysed, a personalized treatment would be delivered. Heinz was immediately interested. He agreed to help, not only with the technology but also with business advice. He also took a 10 percent stake in her company.

Word of his work spread further. He met Sergey Brin from Google, Elon Musk from Tesla and SpaceX, and Jared Leto from the movies. He was invited to Richard Branson’s private island, where it is said that he silenced the billionaire’s dinner table with his vision of an intentionally designed, synthetic future. He was interviewed by Fortune and NPR and Wired. CNN named his technology as one of its “Top Ten Ideas That Could Save Lives.” He also became a frequent guest at tech conferences, and it was at one of these that a chain of events was set in motion that would lead eventually to his death.

On Wednesday 19 November 2014, Heinz spoke at a Demo conference in San Jose, California headlined “New Tech Solving Big Problems.” His fateful presentation was entitled “Create Your Own Creatures by Printing DNA.” “Our goal,” he explained, “is to take everything that’s existing and natural and replace it with a synthetic version. So, by writing the DNA we can make it better. We can make better humans, we can make better plants, we can make better animals, we can make better bacteria.” His glowing plant project might sound trivial, he acknowledged, but the implications were immense. “If you can engineer a plant to glow in the dark, imagine what else you can make a plant do. You could make a plant suck all the carbon out of the atmosphere. You could make a plant that produces food to feed the world.”

The day before the conference, Heinz had apparently been told he would be on for ten minutes rather than the three he’d been planning. To fill some of the time at the end, he decided to speak briefly about some of companies he’d partnered with who’d be using Cambrian Genomics technology. Welcoming one of these partners onstage, Gilad Gome of Petomics, he talked about the idea of changing the smell of faeces and gastric wind and using it as an alert that a person was unwell. “When your farts change from wintergreen to banana maybe that means you have an infection in your gut,” he said. He introduced Sweet Peach as a similar project. “The idea is to get rid of UTIs and yeast infections and change the smell of the vagina through probiotics,” he said.

So, not only can you actually program them, you can write them, you can change them and you can make them personal to you. You can control all the code that lives on you, which is exciting, because previously the natural world has been beyond our grasp. We’ve recently, within the last ten years, been able to read it. Now we finally have the cost low enough that anyone can write it on their phones. So the idea is, your microbes can be out of balance. Sweet Peach will balance them, improve smell, and everybody’s happy.

Everybody’s scents are bacterial in origin, he explained. They’re produced by organisms that live on you. “We think it’s a fundamental human right to not only know your code and the code of the things that live on you but also to write your own code and personalize it.” When the compere provocatively asked if Heinz and Gome were playing god, Heinz countered in exquisitely neoliberal fashion, “The idea is personal empowerment. We don’t want the state telling people what they can grow on them, what babies they have and what genes they can fiddle with. We want it to be self-directed.”

In the audience, a journalist from Inc.com decided that what he was hearing was “astonishingly sexist.” After all, here was a man, he’d later write, chattering about “making women’s sex organs more aesthetically pleasing.” It seemed to him that Heinz was just another of these “tech bros” who “talk endlessly about changing the world with technology while building frivolous things.” After the presentation, he asked some follow-up questions. In response, Gome explained that the change in scent wasn’t only there to help customers connect to themselves in a “better way,” it was an indicator that the product was actually working. “It tells us where the protein is expressed,” he said, adding jokingly, “What, would you rather have it glow?”

“These Startup Dudes Want to Make Women’s Private Parts Smell Like Ripe Fruit” ran the headline at Inc.com later that day. The story zipped around the web, being swapped and swapped and swapped again on social media, the outrage rapidly amplifying. Soon, the Huffington Post picked it up: “Two Science Startup Dudes Introduced a New Product Idea this Week: A Probiotic Supplement that Will Make Women’s Vaginas Smell Like Peaches.” Gawker called it a “waste of science” and said Sweet Peach “sounds like a C-list rom-com with a similarly retrograde view on the priorities of the contemporary human female.” Then, Inc.com weighed in again: “Its mission, apparently hatched by a couple of 11-year-old boys still in the ‘ew, girl cooties’ stage, is to make sure women’s vaginas smell ‘pleasant.’” Similarly negative stories began appearing in major news sources such as Salon, Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail and Business Insider.

These reports were profoundly unfair, and some of them were later rewritten or otherwise amended. Heinz and Gome were presented as misogynists who’d decided to concentrate their efforts on solving the problem of smelly vaginas. In truth, Heinz had spent the majority of his talk explaining the fantastic world-changing possibilities of his technology. Its title referenced not vaginas but creating “your own creatures.” He’d mentioned “vaginal smell” in a way that wasn’t entirely clear, but in the context of a discussion of health products. And even then, to excoriate anyone for working in this specific area would seem eccentric at best: over-the-counter products for vaginal odour have been available in pharmacies for years, and nobody accuses their manufacturers of hating women. Most of the news outlets now attacking Heinz and Gome were quintessential products of the internet age, relying for much of their survival on the sowing and harvesting of moral outrage.

Inc.com stoked that outrage yet further with a follow-up interview with Sweet Peach’s Audrey Hutchinson. “Sweet Peach Founder Speaks: Those Startup Dudes Were Wrong About My Company” ran the headline. “When I wrote earlier this week about a new probiotic supplement called Sweet Peach engineered to make women’s vaginas smell like fruit, the response across the internet was understandable outrage: Who the hell were the guys behind this and what right did they have to decide how women’s bodies ought to smell?” But the real story, wrote Inc.com, was “outrageous in a different way.” Inc.com accused the founders of being “highly misleading” by characterizing Sweet Peach as a tool for making vaginas smell like fruit—which, of course, they hadn’t. “It was Gome who introduced the critical misperception about Sweet Peach,” the reporter wrote, “after I specifically asked him whether the supplement was designed simply to eliminate unwanted odors, or whether it was meant to introduce desirable new ones, like the scent of peach. He insisted it was the latter, likening the new scent to a marker dye that let the user know the product was working. ‘Instead of color, this is a scent or a flavor. But it’s way cool that it smells good,’ he said.” Hutchinson told the reporter she’d been nauseated by what had happened, and even claimed to have vomited twice. “A vagina should smell like a vagina,” she told the Huffington Post, “and anyone who doesn’t think that doesn’t deserve to be near one.”

Heinz tried to rescue the situation. He apologized for leaving Hutchinson out of his presentation, explaining that he was only informed that his three-minute talk had been extended the day before and had lacked sufficient time to plan. Gome, he said, had spoken about Sweet Peach because he was excited about the science. “He’s a microbiologist and he likes to talk about possibilities.” In his typically socially-deaf way, he added that whilst the publicity was losing him investors, it would be good for Hutchinson. “This mischaracterization is going to be great for Sweet Peach.” He also desperately explained to the Huffington Post, “I never said anything about making vaginas smell like peaches.” None of this made any difference. On 24 November, Hutchinson released a series of tweets in support of Heinz. “Amidst chaos, I’m confident in saying I’m still proud to have Cambrian Genomics as a stakeholder in Sweet Peach,” she said. “Austen Heinz of Cambrian Genomics has shown me nothing but fervent support in my efforts to make Sweet Peach a force in women’s health. He’s been a friend and support throughout this entire process and has played a huge role for helping make my vision and company a reality.” But this statement, by the young female founder, was largely ignored.

Instead, the monstering continued. “How Two ‘Startup Bros’ Twisted the ‘Sweet Peach’ Mission” ran a headline on the Huffington Post: “Yup, you read that right; these ‘startup bros’ think a vagina that doesn’t smell like a peach is a Big Problem to be solved.” The Daily Mail posted another story (“Female CEO of Vaginal Probiotic Is ‘Appalled’ by Male Colleagues Who Misrepresented Her Product to the Public”), as did BuzzFeed (“the two completely mischaracterized the company . . . it does not create a peach scent for women’s vaginas”). The Guardian ran four negative stories over the course of just three days, while the Daily Dot wanted to know, “Is the Sweet Peach Startup a Complete Scam?”

“It was pretty heart-wrenching to see him suffer like that in the media,” Heinz’s sister, Adrienne, told me. We were talking in the central San Francisco consulting room where she works as a clinical psychologist, her client-base largely Silicon Valley tech workers. “It was clickbaity stuff. Article after article after article got written because the headline was interesting. It was so infuriating. I don’t think I realized how devastating it was for Austen until later.” She says he couldn’t stop talking about it.

Austen Heinz with his sister Adrienne and his baby nephew (Pic courtesy of Adrienne Heinz)

Behind the scenes, Heinz had been trying to convince Hutchinson to include a smell signal in her product, but she’d resisted. She’d had no idea he was planning on talking about Sweet Peach, even as a relatively brief aside following his main talk. That he didn’t think to mention her name had only added to the problems. But, said Adrienne, his presentation contained no malice, and in his attempts to repair the situation, he’d only succeeded in making things worse. “He was just saying all the wrong things,” said Adrienne. “I mean, you could never describe him as socially graceful. The reporter was a really nice person but he got Austen completely wrong. He thought he was just kind of a dirtbag.”

Because of what was going on in the media, investors began backing out of Cambrian Genomics. One of Heinz’s business advisors compared his reputation in the industry to that of Bill Cosby. He’d been trying to raise a second round of funding and now he thought he’d have to start laying people off. The timing was terrible: they’d been encountering difficulties with the laser and needed all the brains they could get. “The technical problems could’ve been addressed,” said Adrienne. “He had this brilliant team of scientists that were helping and, worse-case scenario, they could’ve sold to another company who could’ve figured it out, or they could’ve persevered and eventually figured it out. That wasn’t the issue. It was more his confidence in his ability to raise money after this media fallout.”

By the end of 2014, Heinz was suffering physically. “He was like a walking corpse,” said Adrienne. “He’d stopped eating, stopped sleeping. He was just so ruminative—there was a constant stock-market ticker of how his life was over.” They’d have long conversations on the phone. “You might feel like you’d got somewhere by the end of the conversation but then a couple of days later he was back to the same headspace.”

In March, Heinz ordered a selection of ropes from the internet and tried to hang himself in his apartment. He failed. When he came too, he called Adrienne, who was driving home from work. “I just tried to kill myself,” he told her. The family took him on a break to wine country and staged an intervention one evening after dinner. “He just kept saying, ‘I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m dead.’ We said, ‘We’re going to take you to the hospital. We’re going to get you the help you need.’” They had him committed in San Diego.

On 27 May 2015, a member of the Cambrian Genomics team opened up the laboratory after the long weekend, and discovered his body. Austen Heinz had hanged himself. He was 31.

*     *     *

Shortly before his death, Heinz had stayed with his best friend, Mike Alfred. “He felt like the whole world was against him,” Alfred told me. “He took it a lot more personally than I’d advise someone to.” I asked if there might have been any truth to the accusations of sexism. In 2009, he’d self-published a semi-fictional memoir that contained some unpleasant and juvenile talk of strippers and orgies. “It was not true at all,” Alfred said. “He had strong opinions about whether people were smart or not. He didn’t have a lot of respect for people that were dumb. But it wasn’t gender. He definitely was not a sexist.” The problem, said Alfred, was a lack of social sensitivity. “He wasn’t a person who sat around saying, ‘How can I make sure that what I’m about to say to this person comes across right?’ He would just say it.” “But isn’t that a common personality type in tech?” I asked. “I think so. There are a lot of really talented people that are really bad at reading others.”

Alfred also described Heinz as a “tormented soul.” Depression had long been a problem for him. Following his death, it was said he’d suffered from bipolar disorder, a claim that seems at least partly based on what he’d written in his semi-fictional memoir. Adrienne disputes this. “He never received a formal diagnosis of bipolar disorder,” she said, citing his medical records. “I was bothered that this was published and not fact-checked. The only formal diagnosis he received was major depressive disorder. Austen saw mental-health providers at various points in his early adult life. He was not mentally ill or depressed his whole life. It came in waves and his depression was usually triggered by a difficult and stressful life event.” Ultimately, she said, it was the media assault that tipped him into his final decline. “No one’s to blame for his death,” she said. “But make no mistake, I know for a fact that this is what initiated this depression episode.” He was not always a charming presence and could certainly come off as arrogant and dismissive. But there was no justice in the mobbing he endured.

Austen Heinz was, in many respects, a victim of the age of perfectionism. If he was the type of person who was more sensitive to signals of failure in his environment, then the environment in which he found himself was savage. Despite his achievements, despite his incredible vision, despite his unshakeable belief that his work would change the world, he became the tragic victim of a confluence of factors—a socially awkward person, an emotionally vulnerable temperament, in a vicious and often cruel social media environment. When I asked Adrienne if she’d describe her brother as a perfectionist, she nodded. “He struggled with the black and white thinking that can be part of that; catastrophizing—‘I’m going to be homeless, everybody will think I’m a failure’—mind-reading of what other people think. And so when he started running into difficulties with the possibility of running out of money, keeping all these folks employed, he just got stuck in some really severe thinking traps.”

Two academics I spoke to mentioned this especially unpleasant aspect of our times. “It’s something that’s becoming more salient,” Professor Gordon Flett, an expert in the dangers of perfectionism told me. “When a public figure makes a mistake there seems to be a much stronger, more intense and quicker backlash. So kids growing up now see what happens to people who make a mistake and they’re very fearful of it.” Professor Kip Williams, a social pain specialist said, “You see it on both sides, from the Right and Left. There are strong pressures to conform and an immediate response to disrupt or to ostracize people who disagree.”

The irony of the new digital world that’s enabled the rise of these kinds of incidents is that it relies for its success on some of our most ancient characteristics. We’re tribal, and we’re wired to want to punish, sometimes savagely, those who transgress the codes of our in-group. These are powerful and dangerous instincts that can easily overwhelm us, with tragic unintended consequences.

 

Will Storr is an award-winning journalist and novelist. His work has appeared in the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the New Yorker, and Esquire. You can read Clay Routledge’s recent interview with the author here, and follow him on Twitter @wstorr

123 Comments

  1. Stewie Griffith says

    Because of stories like this, I cheer every time I read of click bait reporters like those at Inc or Huff losing their jobs (Okay – I’ll stop kidding myself… when I hear of ANY “reporter” losing their job). Such a tragedy and loss to our collective human potential.

    • The answer to misery isn’t more misery from people losing jobs.

      Isn’t there a lesson we need to learn in the new social media world?

      We haven’t figured this stuff out yet.

      • is anyone who lost their jobs willing to learn that lesson even now? if they had not been at employment risk they would never have halted their tribal approach. it’s not that they don’t know right from wrong, it is that their view of right and wrong is fundamentally different.

      • Benji says

        It’s not the misery that makes everyone cheer, it’s the disarmament of people who cause nothing but harm that gives everyone a flush of relief.

        That they’re not being paid anymore is incidental. That they don’t have the ability to so publicly and viciously attack innocents for personal gain anymore is why someone would want to cheer.

      • Yes, it is. We no longer live in a world of reason and persuasion. We live in a world dominated by the drive for
        and exercise of power.

      • RoboHonky says

        The lesson is that writing about something you don’t understand is not journalism. Stop defending rank idiocy masquerading as information dissemination.

      • Joseph says

        No, the bad actors here are journalists, and bad actors deserve to be punished. Period.

      • Manoj says

        USA needs to get rid of this culture of senseless and needless ourtage. Each passing day, we see a new example of leftist hypocrisy (I’m not a Trump/right wing supporter). Few days ago the Covington incident, Adria Richards Donglegate, etc etc. Day by day, the left is losing its credibility more and more.

      • And the answer to clickbait journalism isn’t to label all journalism as bad. If that was so, Julian Assange wouldn’t be in an Ecuadorian embassy and we wouldn’t know the extent to which we are stiffed by elites.

        My heart breaks for us all really. For this poor guy, judged by a million one-second takes. For all of us. It’s a hard time to navigate and at the very time we all need each other most, we’ve been co-opted into a corner and trained like seals to turn on each other.

    • jimhaz says

      Inventors of this type often kill themselves when things go wrong. Happens to a lot of people that are more sensitive to reality than others.

      Clickbait is not primarily a “leftist media” problem, it is a human ego problem. We are competitive fucks who like money and status.

      Lets face it it is not as if right wing personalities don’t play the same game. On twitter the IDWs, including Claire, are constantly self-promoting clickbait stuff mixed in with genuine intellectual stuff for PROFIT reasons.

      • Joseph says

        More whataboutism, there is no right wing equivalent to Buzzfeed, Huffpo, and dozens of other shitrag media outlets in terms of creating witch hunts to ruin people financially.

    • But what if they did…. and then killed themselves because they lost their job..? How would that be any different? The fact is, we can’t possibly know what triggers people… but life is sometimes harsh – and some people are equipped to deal with it better than others.

    • Micha Elyi says

      Professor Kip Williams, a social pain specialist said, “You see it on both sides, from the Right and Left. There are strong pressures to conform and an immediate response to disrupt or to ostracize people who disagree.”

      On the political right I see that sort of “strong pressures to conform” among denizens of alt-right Internet echo chambers who disparage non-conformists as “GOPe”, “NeverTrumpers”, and “neocons”. Of course, those Borg-wannabees couldn’t define those terms in ten words or less to save their lives. They’re just the children-in-adult-age-bodies versions of schoolyard taunts. Children can be so mean and cruel.

      • MrTea says

        In this case those labels are quite accurate. The most prominent neocons and NeverTrumpers clearly identified themselves as such when they signed the letter saying they were going to vote for Hilary, specifically over foreign policy/”security” issues. These people got us into the Iraq war and went on to mindlessly cheerlead for the destruction of Libya. Some of them were proteges of the people in the Bush 41 administration who (along with the Clintons who followed) fumbled away the chance to establish a constructive and stabilizing relationship with the Russia that emerged from the collapse of the USSR. Apparently they want war and act to cause nothing but trouble (Gore Vidal who knew this class from the inside often spoke of the elites of both parties as a “permanent war party”.) These are exactly the same kind of over-educated elites who caused the catastrophic failure in Vietnam. In fact they come from the same institutions, like the Council on Foreign Relations; the John Birch Society stood alone as early as the 1950s/60s in identifying this, and as a consequence was smeared and vilified like no other political organization.

        Carl Bernstein wrote about a related matter in 1977 in Rolling Stone–“Operation Mockingbird” the use of the “name brand” media outlets by the CIA to plant, you guessed it, fake news. He still has the piece up on his web site, but you will never see anybody ask him about it when he appears on the CNN/MSNBC circuit. (There was a precious moment on CSpan last year when a couple NY Times editors made an appearance at the National Press Club and made the mistake of allowing a Q&A–the second question was about Mockingbird and they could only sputter and try to laugh it off.

      • BrianB says

        The GOPE is the lily livered Republican Establishment = five words.
        Nevertrumpers are supposed conservatives who join the left in despising Trump = nine.
        Neocons are the dissipated remnant of a powerful intellectual movement = eight.

        Denizens, Borg-wannabees, children-in-adult-age-bodies; and you’re lecturing people about schoolyard taunts?
        Pro tip; think before you write your next comment…then cancel it anyway.

  2. “Most of the news outlets now attacking Heinz and Gome were quintessential products of the internet age, relying for much of their survival on the sowing and harvesting of moral outrage.”

    Inc.com, Huffington Post, Salon, Buzzfeed, Daily Mail, Business Insider. Their response to this, if any, would be interesting.

    • Circuses and Bread 🇺🇸 says

      @johntshea

      The mediascum won’t reply. This young man was a blood sacrifice on their political altar.

  3. Circuses and Bread 🇺🇸 says

    At its core, this is just another tale of political correctness run amok with horrifying consequences. I’m saddened for this young man and his family. A fine talent snuffed out. But by gosh the virtue signaling was worth it.

    • Craig WIllms says

      I used to think I was being brave and authentic using my real name on these forums. Probably I’m just being naive, possibly stupid.

      In the end I have little that could be taken from me, a psyche that can take a few jabs. Eventually though this PC induced ‘injustice’ needs to stop.

  4. Walter says

    This makes me both angry and despondent. There should be financial (or criminal) accountability for media outlets that distort the truth in such a fashion.

    And why am I only hearing of this 3-1/2 years after the fact?

    The people who pretend to be offended by things that aren’t offensive need to be the ones driven from the herd.

    • Circuses and Bread 🇺🇸 says

      @walter

      No question that the mediascum and SJWs are culpable in this young man’s death. They have blood on their hands.

      The question to my way of thinking is what do we do to prevent the future loss of such talent? I do think that some serious solidarity and mentoring of younger men is desperately needed.

      Ideas? Do older guys need to seek out young men to act as big brother figures?

  5. E. Olson says

    A sad story that is only becoming more common – I can see it now: A male scientist announces a quick and certain cure for a leading killer of men: prostate cancer. Next day’s headline at Huffington Post/Buzzfeed/CNN: “Sexism in cancer research: male scientists ignore cancer risks to women”.

    And to all those Lefties that want to tax away the “obscene” and “unearned” wealth of entrepreneurs and business leaders, this sort of abuse by the media, SJ crowd, ambulance chasing lawyers, and Lefty regulators is one major reason why they are worth every cent they are paid, and if you take away the possibility of that pot of gold you will see a lot less business investment and innovation to the detriment of everyone.

    • Wife of Sinbad says

      Your might be cheered to learn that Buzzfeed has sacked about 1,000 people just recently.

      • E. Olson says

        I wish them the best and hope they follow their own advice to former coal miners by learning how to code.

    • Micha Elyi says

      Real-life examples of the media gynolatry you describe have already occurred. For example, about once per decade since the 1990s New York Times barks in a headline that men’s life expectancy is rising faster than women’s. Instead of that Woe Is Woman narrative-conforming headline, a more honest blurb would be something like, life expectancies rising, women live longest but men are catching up.

    • But these outlets that produce such rot are owned by extremely rich people. What we are railing against is the product of billionaires. So yes, tax them to the hilt, just like America did in the 1950s, so we can get rid of the grossly unequal society that produces all of this divide-and-conquer shit.

      • E. Olson says

        Sue – in 1960 when the US had a 91% marginal tax rate, only 9 people paid that rate, and they must have been idiots because all the other rich people used loopholes to avoid the punishing rates. The illustration on the futility of taxing the rich is that even during high rate 1950s the tax intake was less than 20% of GDP, or about the same as in recent time when the highest marginal rate has been well under 50%.

    • Unfortunately, there are many of the very wealthy who are the very ones who approve of the strange macinations of the left. Beniof of Salesforce being a leading light in the “I am insanely wealthy now I want to change the world” group.

      Whatever happened to old fashioned entrpreneurs who got rich and quietly gave a lot of it away (without tax advantages).

  6. Morgan Foster says

    A white male child, socially undeveloped and targeted by bullies, grows up and presents himself, on a public stage, to a mob of social justice bullies.

    That was never a good idea. Even if he hadn’t killed himself.

  7. Zimzam says

    Wow that was a really interesting story. I disagree with his sister’s assessment. There are clearly those to blame in the media for this, I can see the blood quite clearly on their hands. Depressing to see the loss of someone so bright.

  8. Stephanie says

    What a horrible story. I’m crying from such a senseless loss. For someone of such greatness and potential to be driven to this so casually by people who contribute nothing but rage and pain is infuriating.

    Thank you, Will Storr, and thank you Adrienne Heinz, for sharing this with us. I hope this story contributes to a move away from outrage culture.

    • Stephanie, The SJW think they are intelligent but they are really only vicious rat like failures, who will die having done NOTHING compared to Austen Heinz.

  9. thatsmysecretcap says

    Lets not fall into the same trap as the safe spacers. He was going to run up against ridiculous, irrational, unfair opposition at some point. I’m surprised that he wasn’t assassinated by some kind of anti gmo terrorist for his talk of rewriting biology. The best solution would have been to make him stronger so he could stand up to things. Elon Musk would not be flying rockets if he couldn’t absorb media nonsense.

    When faced with sharp stones, one must choose between teaching the children to put their shoes on or paving the world over with leather.

    Also, I would be ecstatic if we could all agree to drive huffpo and the rest out of business by not paying attention to their outrage sport, but it seems like the wrong direction to direct energy.

    • This is the wise response to all of this. Admittedly, it’s a very sad story.

    • Joseph says

      “Lets not fall into the same trap as the safe spacers.”

      What are you even talking about? You sound like someone giving any excuse possible to allow bad people to continue to do bad things. Are you in favor of or against journalists doing this?

  10. I just bought the book after reading this well written exert. Meanwhile, it’s become clear that fake news is real. Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

    • jakesbrain says

      And just to be perfectly clear: This was not an accident, a tragedy of unforeseen consequences playing out in the life of a sensitive and easily damaged individual. This was a perfect example of what Social Justice really wants. It is nothing more than a power play writ large, whose endgame is the merciless destruction of any figure, public or private, who steps outside the narrow bounds of its perverse ethic. From the minute he made the mistake of saying too much, they WANTED this man to die, and they succeeded in making it happen.

      • Courtney says

        You are SO right on this. I truly believe that’s why they are pushing for infanticide- it’s a precursor to their justified killing of dissidents.

    • If you see your worth in terms of the society around you then you are a sitting duck to the slimy little hunters on twitter etc. It is you who hurts yourself not others doing it to you.

      Who is responsible for the pain others have verbally handed out? YOU ARE!

  11. Farris says

    Like most I had never heard of Austen Heinz. Not suprising that the media would not care to discuss their complicity. For a group obsessed with trigger warnings, it is odd they could not foresee the triggering effect of their own lack of professionalism. One could only imagine the amount of press Austen Heinz‘s death might have received had he been triggered by someone wearing a MAGA hat. But that was not the case, so nothing to see here. History will record the biggest failure of the Left was its unwillingness to hold itself to the standards it imposed on others. Now this young man is gone but at least the media extracted a significant number of clicks to satisfy its lust.

    • jakesbrain says

      I doubt history will record any such thing. The Left purposes to write all the histories from here on out.

    • This kind of behaviour is the product of ill-formed children of neoliberaliam, with haywire central nervous systems in a technological society that is operating at a time when we are all most effectively alienated, divided and conquered by the corporatocracy.

      I’m so tired of people claiming this is some kind of ploy from the Left. There is barely any Left left (although delicious rumblings of it rebirthing, however). It was mangled around 1975 and ever since, people have retreated into thinking they can just play in the social sphere because anything else has been too hard, ever since neoliberalism and the elites killed off our chances to hold them to account by taking away and privatising as much as possible that makes you and me, the community, strong.

      And now we live under the manifestation of that, where people who are likely centrists play at thinking they’re being political, and people on the right can claim they’re bloody socialists. Identity politics is not socialist. It’s relentlessly, boringly, motherfuckingly status quo neoliberalism. These people are the grandchildren of Thatcher and Reagan. Their boot in each other’s faces is the product of the original one.

  12. A sad story. I gave up reading the mainstream media a week ago. I’d had enough. I encourage other to do the same. Don’t click, don’t read. Starve them of revenue.

  13. ThereAreDozensOfUs says

    We are going to be SO badly judged by our grandchildren

    • Yarara says

      You are assuming our grandchildren will have any critical thinking skills left.

      Extrapolating from todays trends, I am a bit less optimistic

  14. Michael says

    Sadly, another victim of the modern liberal attitude that you have to be incredibly sensitive to the feelings and considerations all people on the planet – except white men. Most of us can handle it, some unfortunately can’t. It simply wouldn’t have been acceptable for these loathsome media outlets to be so dismissive, insulting and accusatory towards a person from any other identity group.

  15. Joseph Ratliff says

    I wonder how many other stories there are like this one. Specifically, of genius talent that come up with world changing ideas only to be smeared out of existence by the heartless NPC mob of “social justice.”

    • David Ahern says

      how many will be aborted in the mouth of the womb? one could make a philosophical discussion that Austen’s death as tragic as it IS , is just a SJW late term abortion. Shame

  16. Nate D. says

    I’m inclined to agree with secretcap above. This is a very tragic story, but if a smattering of libelous clickbait articles was enough to push Austen to the brink, he would have had a very rough row to hoe once his company emerged from the “start up” category and into the prime time. Doctoring DNA is rife with sticky ethical issues. Cool science, and very helpful… but, his full-throttle approach would have eventually landed him in an ethical quagmire with a huge target on his back. Perhaps this is why his sister was slow to blame the clickbait authors. Very difficult situation, for sure.

    Regardless, I have to wonder if the clickbait author at Inc.com is haunted by this. If I had written an intentionally specious, libelous, ill-informed, hypocritical article about some guy I didn’t even know – only to find that it led to his undoing… that would haunt me. It’s one thing to do your research and to write a hard-hitting fact-based expose’ that leads to collateral damage, but to write a shitty, off-handed, un-researched opinion piece that leads to a suicide? I would never recover.

    • I wouldn’t call it “haunted”. He says “garbagey”

      “I wish I could say there’s a simple lesson here. Sexism in tech is a real problem, and not something anyone made up. Extending the benefit of a doubt to everyone guilty of it would be its own form of unfairness”

      But what about extending the benefit of the doubt to those you *think* are guilty of it? But turns out aren’t, because they have a mental illness you didn’t know about?

      https://www.inc.com/jeff-bercovici/austen-heinz.html

    • jakesbrain says

      Who are you kidding? If he ever found out that his target committed suicide, he probably jizzed in his pants at the thought of the power he wielded. That’s all they care about, raw power; morals and ethics are secondary considerations at best.

    • David Ahern says

      “I have to wonder if the clickbait author at Inc.com is haunted by this?” where there is no sense there is no feeling

  17. Blue Lobster says

    Heroes always have a fatal flaw and Austen’s was exposed and exploited by the scourge of the psychic jackals that hide within us all and are given free range to devour, ravage and wreak havoc by the desolation that is social media.

    If there was ever a thing so corrupted, so malign, so feral, so merciless to have been released from that ancient, Hellenic jar; if there ever was just one of all the many evils escaped therefrom which might be forever returned to it’s infernal confines – that thing would be social media.

    The end of Austen’s agony is bittersweet and my sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends left behind whose suffering will continue.

  18. This is horrific but we see stuff like this played out on a smaller level all the time. Sadly this time it (media and scocial media SJW bullying) caused a young genius to take his own life. Usually it just ruins there professional or personal lives. I say usually just with heavy sarcasm.

  19. markbul says

    MIllions of people believe – or would if they heard the story – that either he got what was coming to him, or that his death was a small and perfectly reasonable price to pay to live in a better world.

  20. johno says

    To paraphrase the Ian Malcom character: He was so busy asking if he could do something, that he never stopped to ask if he should do it.

    One thing that separates us from the rest of the creatures is our sense of right and wrong. In it’s higher forms, it is known as wisdom. How ironic that we appear to be evolving into a form that disregards this characteristic.

  21. Jin Molnar says

    The first sentence of the article indicates that the story will deal with mental illness in one way or another: “Imagine it were possible to create the perfect human.” Perfect according to whom, exactly? Perfection consists of what, exactly?

  22. Ernie from Encino says

    I’m tough as nails but this one made my cry. Such a senseless travesty foisted upon this young man by the Mafia Media.

  23. Who Rescued Whom? says

    If only the fake news media would just learn to code none of this would have happened.

  24. Fickle Pickle says

    Anyone who advocates the process of doctoring human DNA and who pretends that by doing so that they can create the “most advanced forms of human life” is clearly deluded.
    Hell-deep so.
    Such a project is just the modern day version of creating the Frankenstein monster using more advanced sophisticated forms of technology.
    The forms created by such technology which once let loose from Pandora’s famous box can never ever be put back in again.

    Hubris all the way down!

    Strangely enough none of us the slightest clue as to what Life is really all about.
    We all presume that we are all new, or have been here in this very vulnerable fleshy form for the first time.
    Not so.
    We are all patterned by the pattern-patterning, and are, inevitably WITH the same ones we were with before, repeating those relations and making time with them. Even though we may not immediately recognize these relations, they are guaranteed to have been there before, and are now enforcing and patterning every aspect of our lives, without our intelligence, our understanding, of the why that this is, and what thus makes our lives a hellish nightmare.
    Nobody can account for the parts that we are all dramatizing – and why?

    Everyone acts as if everybody understands life, and why it is there, and what it is for – as if we are playing our part because it is written, and we know WHY it is written.
    But we do not!
    We are just acting, playing pre-scripted parts on the seeming stage of life..

    All of that is rather empty of any depth or profundity.
    And, tragically, none of us has the slightest clue as to how to incarnate a greater purpose, or if that is even possible.

    It certainly cant be done by using any kind of manipulative technology.

    • jimhaz says

      I have absolutely zero doubt that doctoring human DNA is our future and don’t have a problem with that – I fully support it actually (with regulation). Particularly so, now that our DNA will be under stress from the removal of natural selection (for example via our collective protection of the genetically disabled) and the development of other technology, cannot otherwise help to make us weaker and weaker.

      I firmly believe we should do what is required to achieve an ability to live outside this planet – and that will require DNA doctoring.

      It will provide advantages, but still not make us any happier, as that is not how the insatiable human ego/emotional system works. Which is a good thing as none of us would be here without that insatiability.

      The danger is really in the speed of development, rather than the development itself – our social systems change post-development, not pre-development and this therefore provides opportunities for misuse by alphas (eg building super fighters).

      • BrianB says

        Jimhaz,
        If I’m understanding your point correctly, engaging in (regulated) eugenics in a test tube is a great idea except for that slight problem of megalomaniacs building a master race to rule the world and enslave the rest of us.

        The supply of pavers for the road to hell is inexhaustible.

  25. Ian Marche says

    Meanwhile….. Just listen to the chorus of convenient feminists who bemoan & cackle on, with shameless abandon, while mentioning every proud slander imaginable about men in general (Trump in particular), and their goddamned small penis.

    Must be hard having to walk over all of those coats on puddles: thanks #metoo; you just murdered the future and gave it to China.

  26. Fickle Pickle says

    We are all unconsciously trapped in a beginingless and endless pattern-patterning.
    Everything that we do is a dramatization of our past karma’s, both individually and collectively.
    Sooner or later everyone gets their karmic comeuppance, both individually and collectively.

    It is impossible to do just “one thing”.
    Everything that we do, say and even think affects the indivisible energy field in which we exist.
    Countless beings and forces, both visible and invisible are causing things to happen.
    This is a cause-and-effect cosmos.
    The pattern of the cosmos altogether is the totality of all causes and effects.
    There is no single “anything” in charge.
    Every thing is in charge.
    Every one is in charge, as both cause and effect, moment to moment in space-time.
    Every one is having an effect on all “others”, and every one is suffering from the effect of all “others”..

    That being the case no one is in the position to be self-righteous about anything.

  27. Catherine Fitzpatrick says

    Yes, this is another example of leftist authoritarianism and trial by social media and liberal media. But the anguish, mental illness, and victim status of this man is not a justification for never criticizing his theories. They are eugenics, pure and simple, and that has been discredited over the centuries precisely because it puts power in the hands of a few scientists. Social misfits can’t be the only ones to decide what it means to be human and what is “good” about changing humans, even if they are brilliant. It’s also still frankly strange that he couldn’t pick out the most important feature of this product — that it would end the pain of infections for women. That has to be said. We can’t let leftist and liberal authoritarianism silence anybody, or our own criticism of anybody.

  28. Joaquim C says

    The video was pathetic… so full of bulls****
    Nice scam while it lasted.

  29. Something like this happened to me – I made a joke – had opinions – debated and some narcissistic member of the social group and a cabal of enablers made it their life’s mission to ostracize me from something I the group and by definition something I loved – it was devastating – I identified the main protagonist as acting with narcissistic personality disorder or sociopathic behaviours – his focus and reach made him omnipresent for maybe 2 full years during which time any attempt to reason or appease became fodder from fresh attacks – suicide did cross my mind but luckily for me the shock of having these thoughts inspired me to seek help and over time that worked – I feel stronger for the whole experience but equally I have disengaged from social media and do not contribute much at all my opinion – a member of the cabal very recently when I met him in person apologized for what happened and his part in it – he too had been caught up in the storm – this is a powerful entity to have in your life – these people are devastatingly destructive – life then necessarily becomes before the abuse – after the abuse – one distinct from the other.

  30. tvtaerum says

    In some ways this is reminiscent of the apparent suicide by the genius Alan Turing. Being genius, by its nature, increases the likelihood of being immune to “current world thinking”. There is an inherent fragility behind a facade of arrogance and certainty and the world is poorer for its part in cutting these lives short. And while every idea needs to be thoroughly evaluated, it is not right to absolve those who exploit the fears of many and drive such people to despair and suicide.

  31. Дин У. says

    The solution to this is clear. Don’t visit sites for Buzzfeed, Huffpost, Inc.com, Dailymail, Gaurdian, Daily Dot, etc. Clicking on their links and giving them that advertising power is immoral.

    • Manoj says

      I tried reading the articles linked in this article on Inc.com. While reading, a video started playing and to pause it I had to scroll all the way down. After that another video popped up and I had to close it. Then while reading the article, when I reached the end, the whole page became blank. To read the rest of the article, I had to refresh the page 2 times more. This website found the most annoying way of getting clicks.

    • jimhaz says

      As if. I think a lot of people here don’t catch public transport to work, where an entire train carriage of 50 people are all on their mobiles. What does one want then – lite, banal or garbagy stuff.

  32. You people are just the freaking worse. Some hyper privalaged d-bag can’t handle some rightful criticism and you all use that as an excuse to bag on the free press (a press that happens to hold folks like Donald Trump accountable…hmmmm). You people are so busy trying to create your Riechstag Fire that you will lie about anything. Maybe the world is better with one less toxic asshole in it?

    • We can have free press without the obscene amount of slander and witch hunt that flows trough the current system.

    • privileged*
      Reichstag*
      How about learning some grammar to go along with the righteousness?

      • sumpin says

        Don’t be a grammar douchbag; oh, and you missed *worst.

  33. Jeff Bercovici says

    Hi folks, I’m the journalist who wrote the first story on Sweet Peach for Inc., as well as the initial follow-up, after I heard from Audrey Hutchinson, and another one, after I learned of Austen Heinz’s death.

    Whatever you think of my reporting (I hope you read the articles themselves if you’ve formed an opinion of it, not just what’s quoted here), or of journalists in general, bear in mind that, after I saw Austen and Gilad Gome give their presentation, I sought them out in person to clarify what they had meant by it. When Audrey contacted me, I again contacted Austen seeking a response.

    When Will Storr was reporting on the effects of my reporting, he chose to do so without contacting me at all. Did it suit his narrative aim not to have to include whatever explanations or mitigating facts I might offer? You’d have to ask him. I only learned of his story and book when Quillette readers started emailing me through my personal website to tell me what a dishonorable journalist I am. When I incited a pile-on, at least I gave the objects of it the opportunity to explain themselves.

      • Jeff Bercovici says

        That if you think you know what kind of journalist I am from reading this story, you’re no different than the people who read my stories and thought they knew what kind of person Austen was. We all have our biases and preconceptions. The best way journalists have of correcting for that is giving the people we’re judging the opportunity to speak for themselves.

        • Joseph says

          Every single commenter here is morally and intellectually superior to you. You are absolute pondscum, you deserve to be made into a pariah. Social oppression is good when its turned against people like you. Freedom of the press doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

        • Charlie says

          There is indication that dogs can smell cancers. Consequently, there is indication that disease may be able to be detected by smell. Cancers of the cervix, breast and colon are major killers of women. Austen Heinz may have developed a quick and easy method for detection of cancers using smell. The earlier the cancers are detected, the greater the chance of survival.

          Jeff Bercovici . What did you do to counteract Will Storr’s article.

    • Martelevision says

      You’re not a journalist. You’re a toddler with a loaded gun.

      But for the sake of argument, let’s say your conduct was perfectly above board. Let’s say that you didn’t immediately leap upon the sexism angle despite that the vaginal-odor thing was incidental to Heinz’s speech. How do you defend the ensuing pile-on by – let’s see if I can list all of the outlets here – Huffington Post, Gawker, Salon, Buzzfeed, Daily Mail, the Guardian, Daily Dot, and Business Insider?

      How do you defend a culture of so-called journalism that is built around stoking outrage over frivolous events? Do you think it’s appropriate that a gang of glorified bloggers can and frequently do expose random people to worldwide censure and harassment based on the worst possible reading of a handful of their their comments?

      What the hell is so sexist about what Heinz said, anyway? Do you stalk the aisles of your local drugstores, ripping apart displays for feminine hygiene products? No, because that would take effort, along with a certain amount of personal courage, and you have neither. It’s easier to earn feminist good-boy points by stoking up outrage over nonsense via Twitter.

      You yourself acknowledge in your followup to Heinz’s suicide that you saw a stereotype of the “Tech Bro” and ran with it. This is a startling admission. Yet just as you teeter on the precipice, finally, of self-awareness, you sharply turn away. The problem, you go on to say, isn’t your worthless rabble-rousing disguised as a report on a tech conference; no, the problem is that you didn’t know about Heinz’s mental illness.

      The reader is left to conclude that you’d happily destroy anyone who doesn’t present evidence of mentally illness. Clearly your colleagues, who took your laziness and irresponsibility even a step further, agree.

      And now, you dare to come here, mewling that Will Storr didn’t give you a chance to present your “mitigating facts,” that he was too eager to push his narrative. It is this demonstrable lack of contrition, and your overflowing hypocrisy, that drive people to hate your type. The pampered “tech-journalist” with an English degree cries out in pain as he capriciously destroys people for imagined wrongthink.

      Admit it, Jeff: you like writing about sexism in tech because it distracts from the fact that can’t tech yourself out of a paper bag. But don’t despair, with any luck, you’ll soon have an opportunity to learn to code.

      • sumpin says

        Martelvision – x10. Good luck with your cancer. J. Face the pain and come around.

      • jakesbrain says

        Forget it, it’s Chinatown. Literally nothing you can possibly say to this dumb cunt, or any of his fellow “journalists”, will break through the adamantine shield of his own self-regard and moral righteousness.

    • able baker says

      “When I incited a pile-on, at least I gave the objects of it the opportunity to explain themselves.”

      That was nice of you, you fucking asshole.

    • BrianB says

      But in the end, your stories were not accurate. And your reluctance in your comment to display the slightest regret or remorse for “inciting a pile on” that set in motion the suicide of someone doesn’t do much to dispel the notion you might just be a bit of a dishonorable journalist.

  34. Gary Taylor says

    The problem here seems two-fold. First the pervasive irresponsibility of a slacker, lack-luster, bigoteering media, that has been allowed to flurish without proper self-monitoring. Second is the lack of individual resilience, gumption and spunk that would allow a person to withstand this sort vitriolic nonsense. To see it for it for what is: the banal babbling of the herds of “nattering nabobs of negativism” that have found a comfortable home in the media both mainstream and otherwise.

  35. Gary Rice says

    Fascinating and well written story… how ironic that it makes me think my loathing of the media should be even stronger.

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  40. Lady Amelia says

    what a tragic loss of a gifted and talented human being. Mobs haven’t changed at all, have they?

  41. Imagine being so bright you see the correct answer, and then find that no one else understands, or is even interested. That’s how you often end up with people like Austen. Frustration leads to them being considered weird.

    This is a problem with the very smart – they are ill adjusted, and react badly to disappointment or other emotional issues.

    We as a society spend a lot on helping kids who aren’t that smart to “catch up” but assume smart kids will be fine. Often they are, though not for lack of self effort. But we as a society need to work to help socialize those kids who end up like this – brilliant, and misunderstood.

    The small minded (like the media hacks who attacked him) will always exist. Because there are a hundred of them for every Austen. But the Austen Heinz’s of the world are few and far between, and are left to their own to get past their limitations – often bought on by their own genius.

    The military has studied this problem. They find that it is difficult for the very smart to communicate ideas past a 20-30 point IQ gap. So there are often super bright people, and officers that are not so bright but can understand them, and then they are the ones who communicate with the rest of the crew.

    Wouldn’t it be better to work with these types of kids as kids, and give them better lives?

  42. Winston Smith says

    Someone on Quillette recently posted a very clever comment:”…if it offends it trends.”

    Journalism in the US has been dying a slow death for decades now. A few decades ago this looked like TV broadcasts that focused on a soup of (mostly local) violent crime, fluff features (seasonal lifestyle content, firemen rescuing cats, etc), and scare stories (“do you know what’s in your children’s juice boxes? The answer might shock you. More at 11!”)

    Today’s flavor of “infotainment” is semi-literate bloggers (they cannot seriously be called journalists) cranking out clickbait-y gossip about the latest public figure or company who said / did something “problematic” on “new media” websites. It’s only going to get worse as more print newspapers fail.

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  44. What sad irony. A man brazenly takes upon himself to conquer Death itself. Early on he faces obstacles presented by other mortals, petty and spiteful. While the setback is not negligible it should not be nsurmouantble either, but ultimately it leads the hero to take his own life.

    So much for solving death.

    It seems to me, not to take anything away from this naive but well-intentioned individual’s personal tragedy, that mankind is better off without his intended invention. Look what happens when humans posess the power of internet. God have mercy on us if we harness death, because judging from this story (and a million others) we sure won’ti if biology does not terminate our lives.

  45. The only thing that poor man had to do was say

    “Sweet Peach will absolutely cure male pattern baldness”

    And oh my; the speed at which a whole lot of totally disinterested armed men would have woken up and become very very interested would have surprised quite a few people

  46. Jett Rucker says

    Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.

    Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

  47. Günther says

    The most disgusting part of this is how all the media coverage of his suicide seems to only focus on “mental health” rather than on its cause, to which they contributed.

  48. It seems, regrettably, that the product of these news outlets is not news but fiction, of a particularly damaging kind. The profession once called journalism has evolved to become the outrage industry.

    • jimhaz says

      It is just the outcome of that segment of capitalism related to competition. Which of course the determined conservatives here would not acknowledge as it rests on their side of the fence.

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  51. I don’t understand how eradicating death would work, unless it were coupled (ahem) with ceasing reproduction.

  52. Loran Tritter says

    Poor fellow. Took his own life at a young age. If his ideas are any good, others will follow up. Even Einstein was not irreplaceable, he was just first.

  53. Heath Wells says

    This is a sad story all around. I feel so bad for the family and friends to suffer such a loss of a loved one. The most glaring thing to me was to total disregard for the Creator of the World. We, ALL of us, are God’s creation; our opinion does not change this fact. When we feel we can play God, nothing good can come of this. My prayers and heart go out for the family. No matter how long time passes between this loss, they will always suffer. I know, I lost my daughter of 26 and the pain never goes away.

  54. Bill Conway says

    Two generations back it cost In the thousands of dollars to disseminate a “journalist ‘s “ opinions.
    One generation ago that cost was reduced to hundreds of dollars, with an attendant increase in participants, and an unavoidable decrease in quality. Due mainly to competition and lowered barriers to entry.
    Today the cost to be a journalist is virtually zero, so we can not be surprised at the net result.

  55. BrianB says

    Sounds like he had Asperger’s or at least Asperger’s tendencies.

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