Holocaust Denial

Just to follow up on the Mailbag answer regarding the above subject, a very good documentary by Errol Morris came out last year called Mr. Death. It was about a weak-willed little man who happened to be an expert in methods of execution. He was called upon by members of some holocaust revisionist group to go to Germany, investigate the gas chambers, and “scientifically” prove the Holocaust could not have happened. His investigation concentrates on looking for cyanide residue (mentioned in the Mailbag reply)and he handles it so ineptly that it changes the course of his life. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject or anyone interested in documentaries in general.


Mailbag Answer being referenced: Any validity behind Holocaust denial? --CKDextHavn

[Edited by CKDextHavn on 09-28-2000 at 08:14 PM]

Hey David! Thanks for comparing creationists with people that deny the holocaust! :rolleyes:

The only difference is that we know the holocaust happened. Evolution is still only science’s “best guess” as to how we all got here. Anything to keep from believing you’re subject to a holy God, right David?

Does anybody on this board need further proof that David hates Biblical literalists? Just wondering.

I think it’s fair to compare holocaust deniers to “creation scientists”. Admittedly, the Holocaust is a more inflammatory issue … but both groups ignore and misrepresent evidence to further their causes, and their arguments are from ignorance.

I (and, I think, David) do not have any problem with people who believe in Divine Creation and do not try to deny or distort known facts. I (and, I think, David) have a problem with people who claim that we cannot trust science because it disagrees with their interpretation of some particular “holy writing”. I (and, I think, David) have a major problem with people who use perverted psuedo-science in an attempt to get their religious beliefs accepted as science.

I’d have to agree with David - and actually, this observation is reflected in Shermer’s Why People Believe Weird Things Creationists (although not all Creationists) will willfully distort facts in what they feel is the service of a higher cause (see also Tower of Babel - written by a Quaker if you feel this is about denying God). Another characteristic they share is the feeling that if they can point out one or two flaws in some current research, it destroys the whole theory.

A nice piece, sullied by a cheap shot. :rolleyes:

Please note that even scientists refer to it as the theory of evolution.

I am a creationist, but I don’t claim to have all the answers. I believe that it all fits together somehow, and am content to let it be for now.

In the interests of fighting ignorance, please avoid taking pokes at others’ beliefs, and stick to the facts of the subject at hand.

They also refer to it as the “theory” of gravity and the “theory” of electromagnetism. I’d like to see people deny that gravity exists.

David’s point is the common attitude amongst many groups: the attitude that one can find a small piece of data that seems not to fit, and claim that overturns a whole theory.

Similarly, the thought that because the word “theory” is stuck on to evolution, it means it ain’t true – as if “theory” were somehow equated with “fantasy” or “imaginative.” And Karen, you might add to the theory of gravity and the theory of electromagnetism, that number theory is a branch of mathematics… so, I suppose, that logic would deny not only the existence of gravity, but of numbers as well.

David could have added that scientists often take the same approach towards Biblical literalists, thinking that if they can find one tiny piece of data that doesn’t fit (“Where did Cain’s wife come from?”), they will overturn the belief in the literal truth of the Bible.

Hey now CKDextHavn, let’s not misuse the word scientist. :slight_smile:
“Those seeking to overturn belief in the literal truth of the Bible” do not automatically equal “scientist”

I’d say you can be a scientist, and seek to do that, but doing that does not make you one.

And once again, on a side note, if claim is that the Bible is completely and wholly, literally true, then yes, one piece of evidence against that would disprove that claim.
Just as one piece of evidence showing that, say, decent with modification was impossible would disprove evolution.

This is a different thing, however, from claiming disproving one claim in an aspect of evolution research disproves the whole thing.

In any case, those seeking to overturn a literal interpretation of the Bible usually use hundreds of examples, not just one. :slight_smile:

I don’t see that one aspect is being explored here.

Why would people WANT to deny that the holocaust existed? What purpose does that serve?

I think that they’re usually the people who feel that the Holocaust has given anti-Semitism a bad name.

The guy you’re talking about is Fred Leuchter, and his qualifications for being an “Expert” in methods of execution are highly questionable at best. IIRC, the documentary was nominated for an Academy Award.

Cecil talks about him in the link I posted earlier.

Hm. Does that mean this thread is going to get moved to the Cecil section? :slight_smile:

David:

Excellent column. Thank you.

Shalom.

In a sense, ATB was bang on:

Holocaust deniers invariably hate Jews; that’s why Holocaust denial is so popular among anti-semetic groups and why it’s very common in nations where anti-Israeli sentiments are strong.

The basic premise behind modern anti-Jewish hatred is an irrational fear and loathing of Jews and a belief that Jews are conspiring to harm “aryans” or Arabs or “Whites” or whatever group the subject identifies with. This conspiracy usually takes on massive, global proportions and affects every aspect of day-to-day life (e.g. control of mass media by unseen Jewish paymasters.) No neo-Nazi believes THEY’RE the bad guy; they honestly believe Jews are evil and that they (the anti-semetics) are the misunderstood warriors of justice.

The Holocaust presents a serious problem for people like this because it was an act of such monstrous evil that it cannot be explained away as a rational response to the Jewish “threat.” No matter how you might think Jews are evil, it’s impossible to convince anyone the Holocaust was anything but a crime agaisnt humanity. This, as you might imagine, creates a great deal of cognitive dissonance on the part of racists. On one hand, the world is secretly run by Jews; on the other hand they were massacred and wronged in a manner totally inconsistent with the notion that they are running the world. The psychological solution is very simple and common; sheer denial.

Holocaust denial is generally based on three logical fallacies; argument from ignorance, the argument from irrational composition and incompleteness as proof of defect.

Basically, these break down like so;

  1. You cannot prove there is no Jewish conspiracy, and that is evidence that there is a conspiracy and it is working well. (Argument from ignorance.)

  2. Some witnesses/accounts/documents regarding the Holocaust are in conflict. Some eyewitness testimony is in error. Therefore it is all lies. This is argument from irrational composition.

  3. Not every event or missing person is accounted for; it is still not exactly knows how many are missing, so none of it can be trusted; incompleteness as proof of defect.

Note that there are no facts in error in any of these arguments. You can’t prove there isn’t a worldwide ZOG. Many eyewitness accounts ARE wrong. They never really have figured out exactly how many Jews were murdered; we always say six million but the real figure could be a million on either side of that.

Of course, these are logically fallacious. The fact that you cannot prove the nonexistence of a Jewish conspiracy does not prove it exists. The fact that eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust are wrong does not prove it didn’t happen, any more than my grandfather’s often erroneous memory of last week’s events proves that last week did not happen. The lack of spefific information does not invalidate other information.

These arguments are exactly the same as are used for Creation theory except substitute “Godless humanism” for Jewish conspiracy.

That said, I do not think it’s fair to suggest Holocaust deniers and Creationists are the same. Creationists are misguided and silly, but they argue their point as a positive defence of their religious beliefs, and a lot of Creationists are otherwise rational, decent, balanced individuals. Holocaust deniers are mentally and psychologically troubled people (that is an almost universal truth) who vent hatred on others to shield themselves from their own lack of self-worth. Virtually all neo-Nazis are very, very disturbed individuals, usually huge under-acheivers carrying severe psychosexual trauma.

And, of course, David did not do so.

I think some people are probably motivated by thinking that they aren’t the gullible sheep that simply believe everything that society demands without proof. The type of people that like to think of themselves as being superior to the masses because they disagree, when really they’re just morons. Basically, the same sort of people you occasionally see come here to defend other forms of junk science. These people are the type that are completely impervious to logic and reason, and aren’t even worth the effort to attempt to educate.

It figures – this would be posted when I had to leave town! :slight_smile:

OK, starting from the top.

Psycho Pirate said:

No problem. I always say, if the shoe fits, wear it!

It’s easy for you to say we know the Holocaust happened, but the deniers use the same methods that many creationists use to deny evolution. As Kyberneticist mentioned, Michael Shermer pointed this out quite well in his earlier book. I recommend that you take a look at it.

Huh? Get a grip.

Yes, you’re right. I hate them. Why, just last night when I went out to dinner with two Biblical literalists, I was telling them how much I hate them. Hoo-boy.

Again, get a grip.

Vestal Blue said:

Making a true comparison is not a cheap shot.

And as has already been explained to you, this means it has an incredible amount of evidence behind it, like the theory of gravity.

That’s fine for you. As somebody else noted, I was talking about those creationists who claim to have scientific evidence against evolution.

I was sticking to the facts. And I was fighting ignorance. I wasn’t poking at beliefs. If I had taken a shot at the overall belief that God exists, that would be one thing. But I didn’t. I was very specific.

publuvr said:

This has already been answered well, but I wanted to add my $0.02. They do it so they can continue with their political claims. These are people who not only tend to be anti-Semitic, but also claim there is a huge Jewish conspiracy that controls the world (how else would they manipulate the evidence for the “Holohoax,” as they call it?). So if you’re fighting against this perceived conspiracy, you need to show people why they should be on your side. This is one reason – because Jews are using the Holocaust to get sympathy, etc., according to the deniers.

That said, some of the deniers appear to be using it as a source of income. It was noted in the Shermer/Grobman book that one of them used to write other historical books, but then apparently noticed that he was making a lot more money off of his book sales and speaking fees for his denial stuff. I don’t know if this is true or not, and even if it is I think it’s rather specific to this one and shouldn’t be used to view the entire denier movement.

andros said:

Thank you. :slight_smile:

RickJay said:

Luckily, I didn’t say that. I said they share an attitude about the way they argue facts and evidence.

This was a fine article, and I agreed with all the conclusions. But there was one weak point of argumentation which made me grind my teeth. It said, “This makes no sense. If you knew you were going to be executed, would you just go along with the executioner? Why not at least try to say what really happened? The answer, of course, is that the confessions were accurate, but the deniers don’t want to accept it.”
I am reminded of the Soviet show-trials of the 1930’s, when the defendants confessed to all sorts of things they didn’t do, and were accordingly put to death. The novel, Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, is a famous account of such a procedure.
While of course the Soviet situation was different from the Nazi war criminals’ situation, the questions in the passage I quoted above form a very weak basis for the concluding sentence of the quote. Asking what we the audience would do (“would you just go along with the executioner?”) does not establish the desired conclusion. In my eyes, such reasoning weakens the entire article, since it so readily draws the Soviet show-trials to mind and points out its own inadequacy as reasoning toward the desired conclusion.
As I said, I am in full agreement with the conclusions of the article, and think it was otherwise well-done. Keep up the good work!

<< Why would people WANT to deny that the holocaust existed? What purpose does that serve? >>

I think the major reasons have already been mentioned. But I did have a conversation with one person, an American (second generation) whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Germany after WWI. There was basically a refusal to admit that his German relatives could have been that evil; he didn’t try to deny the deaths, although he played the game of blaming the deaths on disease; he was (I think) trying to deny the guilt of the German people as a whole.

I think that’s probably a small minority of Holocaust deniers, however.

RickJay said:

Are you positive? Couldn’t some of them have just been brought up that way?