It hasn’t happened, to my knowledge, but… hypothetical situation:
Suppose a teacher in a ultra conservative school district has a request from a significant number of parents to teach that the Holocaust is only a theory and that there is a strong theory it never happened. Based on the allowance of Intelligent Design, a non-scientific theory, to be taught in high school science classes, what logic would restrict the Denial community from having a book by the Institute for Historical Review taught alongside Elie Wiesel and Anne Frank?
Like Intelligent Design, while no major published scholars debate the validity of the Holocause, the movement has it’s own “scholars”, some with Ph.D.s in history, who argue their case[s*]. (*Holocaust denial takes many forms- some deniers only have beefs with the numbers, others concede it happened but that Hitler didn’t know about it, etc…)
To those who argue in favor of Intelligent Design’s inclusion, what would you use to justify the exclusion of Holocaust Denial in the same school?
It’s a very sensitive subject, especially for me speaking as a German; Germany has had a strong commitment for decades not to tolerate holocaust denial. Denying the historicity of the holocaust in public is a crime here and more than only frowned upon by the general public; it will ruin your reputation, no matter who you are. A policy that I think is right, because there are a lot of Nazi assholes out there trying to base their ideology partly on holocaust denial.
That said, I don’t thibk anybody can seriously doubt that the holocaust actually happened, even if ultra right wing scholars are trying. There’s way too much evidence: Witnesses, documents, the installations in death camps, mass graves… I don’t think there’s a comparable amount of evidence for the evolution.
(I’m a strong believer in evolution myself, but it seems to me that the evidence for it are less compelling than for the historicity of Hitler’S genocides.)
Ha! That’s an excellent analogy. Don’t know how long it could hold up; as Schnitte says, there would definitely seem to be more concrete evidence of the Holocaust than evolution. Still, excellent idea.
I don’t think even a large number of anti-Semitic parents could actually achieve this.
The teachers here, in the Netherlands, have a hard time teaching the young muslims about the Holocaust.
Some teachers are threatened, one was shot to death.
The book of Anne Frank was denied by some idiot, but science had an answer to that.
That same page has this to say about Holocaust deniers:
Holocaust denial is a form of virulent anti-Semitism. But it is not only that. It is also an attack on reasoned inquiry and inconvenient history. If this history can be denied any history can be denied.
Holocaust denial is a tissue of lies.
So I don’t think anyone would be mad enough to get a school to coöperate with lies.
Even if ‘some people’ are filled with hatred against the Jewish.
[I hope, by all that’s dear to me, I’m right]
Oh, this is so not true! Sure, there’s lots of evidence for the Holocaust, in Europe, from 1930s-1945. Evidence for evolution, on the other hand, is worldwide, and covers billions of years. Some of it quite concrete (or rocks, anyway). I fail to see how anyone can say there’s more evidence for the former. That’s just wrong. You could (I wouldn’t but you might) say that the evidence for the Holocaust is stronger at making its case than that for evolution is at making its one, but that’s about it.
Just because some naysayers doubt the evidence (or twist it), doesn’t mean it’s not there. Jesus H Christ, there are whole sections of university Libraries dedicated to the evidence, whole fields of science that deal with it. The Holocaust, bad as it was, isn’t the lynchpin of history the way evolution is the centre of biology and related fields. The people working in those fields don’t study nothing, you know.
I think it’s probably true though, that the evidence for the holocaust is much more readily digested in its raw form; you can look at photographs, listen to and read the accounts of survivors (and indeed the accounts of former Nazi soldiers), etc - you can develop an basic appreciation of what happened with very little inference and cross-reference of data.
Evolution, OTOH, is supported by an incredibly broad and diverse set of data (in fact the breadth and diversity itself can be a hindrance to, or diversion from its acceptance; In order to appreciate that evolution has happened, it is necessary to draw upon inference - entirely reasonable and supportable inference, of course, but there’s a perceptual (although not technically real) difference in the way the data is received.
After all, we can observe micro-evolution in the laboratory. We can dig fossils out of the ground. This is hard, physical evidence. To establish the existence of the Holocaust we must rely largely on human memory and historical documentation – that’s much shakier ground. People can lie. Documents can be forged. But it would require a powerful conspiracy indeed to plant millions of fossils in out of the way places around the globe just to manufacture a fictional creation story.
(Note: I believe as an absolute fact that the Holocaust happened. I’m just pointing out that it would be easier to fake the evidence for the Holocaust than to fake evolution. Look how pernicious a forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has been.)
I’ve brought this point up in ID debates before. (Although I use the example of George Washington rather than the Holocaust – it’s less inflammatory.) All historical facts are constructed from fragmentary evidence. By emphasizing the gaps in the evidence any piece of history can be made to seem flimsy and unsupported. That’s what the Holocaust deniers do, it’s what the JFK assassination theorists do, and it’s what the ID cranks do.
This is why ID is so dangerous. Once we abandon scholarly consensus as our means for determining the truth of historical facts we’re lost in a dark wood. Any possibility, no matter how far-fetched, becomes ontologically equivalent to the standard interpretation of the evidence.
Did men really walk on the moon? Maybe we should let the students decide for themselves. We should teach the controversy … .
You’re right; my reply suffered from imprecision and ignorance. What I probably meant to say if I had thought enough about it, is that to the lay person the Holocaust is more easily provable. You can still talk to quite a few people who went through it, there are films, pictures, endless original documents, piles of hair, etc. Gets a bit more complex trying to prove evolution.
I think this is an outstanding analogy. Bravo, Sampiro!
I agree with the above posters that evolution is at least as well supported as the Holocaust. I predict, though, that most IDers are going to try to refute the OP by denying this. But I don’t think their denial is a sound argumentative strategy for proving a disanalogy between ID and Holocaust denial. Here is my thinking: IDers ostensibly agree that there is evidence supporting evolution. But they also point out that there are dissenters, and the IDers argue that these dissenters are credible (they have real PhDs from real universities, etc.). Thus, given the existence of a dissenting faction, basic intellectual integrity requires that we be open-minded and “teach the debate.” (I think that is their catchphrase.)
But all of the same points apply to the Holocaust as well. The Holocaust is very well supported historically, but there are prominent dissenters, many with real academic credentials. Therefore, by the IDers’ own standards, we should be required to “teach the Holocaust debate,” or stand guilty of dogmatism.
As indeed are pretty much all facts; historical or otherwise; humans only perceive things in fragments anyway, and by definition, everything we perceive is history - because it has to have already happened before we can perceive it; only the degrees of separation and fragmentation differ.
I think that is the beauty of **Sampiro’s ** analogy. The unpleasant associations make it a clear *reductio ad absurdum * of the ID “inclusiveness” argument: *if * we take their arguments at face value, *then * we are also committed to allowing Holocaust denial theory equal time in the schools.
But the main point of my first post is that it is a valid analogy, and can bear the argumentative weight of an argument from analogy. I don’t see a relevant disanalogy between the two cases. Now, perhaps it might be an imprudent analogy to use, because the emotions stirred by the analogy cloud the issue being discussed. But as I noted, I think (in some cases at least) the emotional force of the analogy increases its rhetorical force.
But I think the point is that it is offensive. Biologists find Intelligent Design just as offensive as you and I find Holocaust denial. It not only denigrates their very life work, but it’s patently incorrect (incorrect as a science, that is, I speak nothing of its truth).
Ummm… do you really think so? Biologists are as offended at the idea that “an intelligence is behind the existince of certain features in living organisms” as most human beings are at the idea “Hey, Hitler/the Nazis really didn’t kill all those Jews?” If so, biologists be a very touchy group.
I’m sorry, my whole response to this would be much better suited for the Pit, so I shall refrain.