Debunking Denialism

Defending science against the forces of irrationality.

Tag Archives: quoting out of context

Rejecting the Holocaust Deniers’ Quote Mine of Historian Raul Hilberg

Like creationists, Holocaust deniers love to take the word of historians out of context in their feeble attempts to demonstrate their position. I dissected one such example in my article about a quote from functionalist historian Arno Mayer, but there are apparently many more such quotations out of context.

Raul Hilberg was considered the most respected Holocaust historian ever lived, especially since he wrote a huge book on the subject called The Destruction of the European Jews back in the early 60s.

Here is the butchered quote that is often presented:

There was a Holocaust, which is, by the way, more easily said than demonstrated.

Holocaust deniers like to use this quote in an effort to show how leading Holocaust historians believe that the Holocaust is an historical reality based on nothing but faith, since they cannot demonstrate it. The quote is from an interview called Is There a New Anti-Semitism? A Conversation with Raul Hilberg in the Logos journal. Now, lets read the context of the quote, which shows something quite different: Read more of this post

A Swedish Vaccine Rejectionist Comes Out to Play…

…but gets badly burned by powerful radiance of science-based medicine and reason.

Note: In a response to an earlier article where I debunked a Swedish anti-vaccine crank by the name of Marina Ahlm, she posted a comment so scientifically flawed that I thought I dissect it in detail. However, my comment became so long that it was worth its own blog entry. I have reproduced my reply below. Enjoy!

I see that Marina Ahlm found her way to my refutation of her blog post. She seems very keen on commenting, as she submitted her comment multiple times. It is interesting to see that she have merely senselessly copy/pasted the comment word-for-word from other texts on the internet, often repeating the same flawed claims that she presented in the original entry at your anti-vaccine blog, rather than making arguments in her own words. she also did not respond to any of the points that I made in this blog entry. Did she even read it before commenting? If she read the comment policy of this blog before she posted (she clearly did not), she would have seen that it prohibits copy/pasting long arguments without any original input. However, I will be humble and allow this behavior. For now. Also, unlike what goes on at the anti-vaccine blog at vaccine.me, I do not randomly delete comments or edit them to undermine critics. She and her allies have been exposed.

Anyhow, I will indulge her delusional beliefs and provide a point-by-point refutation (again!). Hopefully she will learn this time around, but I doubt it. When someone is so ideologically committed as she is, it is extremely hard to make them see their error. She more or less repeat the same logical fallacies as before: confirmation bias (she artificially inflates minor setbacks and limitations with vaccines while ignoring the benefits and efficacy), perfect solution fallacy (she reject vaccines because they are not perfect) and she also tend to quote government reports and scientific articles out of context. Probably, she have not read the original documents, but merely copy/paste what other anti-vaccine cranks have written Read more of this post

Exposing Holocaust Deniers’ Quote Mine of Historian Arno Mayer

It is quite fascinating how different groups of pseudoskeptics from vastly different fields, such as evolutionary biology and 20th century history, tend to apply the same type of deceptive debating tactics. For instance, creationists like to quote the distinguished paleontologist Stephen J. Gould and make it appear as if he is rejecting central concepts in evolutionary biology, when he is fact is merely debating the relative merits of different evolutionary mechanisms. Creationists are thus misrepresenting the internal scientific discussion about how common descent happens, roughly expressed as “punctualists versus gradualists” (although they are not incompatible), as if it was a discussion of whether common descent was true.

As it turns out, Holocaust deniers use the same tactic, although instead of misrepresenting the punctualist Stephen J. Gould, they try to exploit the Holocaust historian Arno Meyer. Similarly to the “punctualism versus gradualism” there is a similar, legitimate discussion within Holocaust history about the exact mechanisms. This debate is usually termed the intentionalist versus functionalist controversy and deals with questions such as “to what degree has the Holocaust planned in advance and to what extent was it a continent historical outcome?”. None of the historians in this discussion denies the Holocaust. They all accept that there was intentionality for genocide, that a highly technical extermination program was implemented using e. g. gas chambers and that roughly 5-6 million Jews where killed. So, in other words, Holocaust deniers misrepresent this legitimate historic discussion as if functionalist historians support Holocaust denial. They do not.

Let us check how Holocaust deniers, such as Germar Rudolf, quote historian Arno Mayer out of context. Read more of this post

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