I ran across this character when simply surfing the net. He apparently thinks he has all the answers to anyone who questions just about any orthodox mainstream position on just about everything. I find him woefully misinformed and belligerent towards free speech, as these Marxist - Statist types usually are.
I will ignore his typical Marxist views on other topics and go with his assertions about the so called 'holocaust' and showcase his views on the lack of reliability of "eyewitnesses" ... which contradict the very 'holocaust' storyline he claims to believe in. I mean really, it's men like Emil Karlsson that Revisionists easily demolish when there is a level playing field.
Here is Karlsson's position on the absurd 'holocaust' storyline as said through his alleged encounter with a 'holocaust denier', which I really doubt given the superficiality of the alleged 'denier's' claims:
http://debunkingdenialism.com/2011/12/0 ... #more-1607
As anyone here knows, Karlsson's false strawman arguments have been shredded at this forum. Note his references, each one has been utterly refuted. I assume Karlsson doesn't get out much. I invite further comment on each of his points.
1. Gas chambers where not just delousing chambers
One of his major claims, and one of the most common claim put forward by Holocaust deniers is that the gas chambers at the extermination camps where not actually used to kill people in, but just used for delousing infested clothes. There are many problems with this. First, the gas chambers in Treblinka used carbon monoxide, which is lethal because it reversibly binds to hemoglobin in mammals and prevents it from transporting oxygen around the body. However, lice do not have hemoglobin so using carbon monoxide to delouse clothing would be a very ineffective method. Second, some gas chambers in Auschwitz used Zyklon-B and had special chambers inside these that where specifically used for delousing. If the gas chambers where really just “delousing chambers”, why put a specific box for delousing clothing within this supposed “delousing chamber”? Clearly, the evidence supports the mainstream historical account, rather than Holocaust denialism.
2. Zyklon-B is a carrier for hydrogen cyanide gas and lethal to humans
He them tried to stump me with the following question: how could Zyklon-B be used to kill humans, since it is a insecticide and in solid form. This is an easy challenge to rise up to: Zyklon-B is a carrier for hydrogen cyanide gas that often came in the form of adsorbent granules that released the gas when treated. Furthermore, the product came in two forms: one odorless and one with the warning odorant methyl 2-bromoacetate. If the gas chambers where just “delousing chambers”, it would not matter what form was used. Why would the Nazis have cared what they lice smelled? However, if the goal was to gas humans, it would make sense to use the odorless form, which was precisely the form that was used by the Nazis. So yet again, the Holocaust deniers challenge was refuted and the evidence was shown to fit better with the mainstream historical account.
3. There are always gaps, anomalies and things left unexplained
A third claim made by the Holocaust denier was that there were “problems” and “anomalies” with the mainstream historical account. He did not specify when asked, so I just replied that this is the very nature of scientific and historical research. There are always things left unexplained and no explanation is immune to chance or human limitations. He had no good response to this counterargument.
4. There does not exist two different theories
This is the classic false balance fallacy, claiming that a scientific (or in this case, historical) explanation that is well-supported by mountains of evidence is in some strange sense “equal” to absurd pseudoscience (or pseudohistory). Just because two different models are asserted with similar levels of conviction does not mean that the truth lie somewhere in between. Sometimes, one side is just mistaken. Also, by using this rhetorical trick, he abused the theory concept. In science and history, a theory is a well-supported explanation to some part of the natural world that includes facts, inferences and tested hypothesis, not a synonym for “crazy idea”. This is a favorite argument by creationists too, asserting that modern evolutionary biology is “just a theory” not understanding that this is the best possible level of confidence that can be acquired when doing science.
5. Keep an open mind, but keep an efficient filter.
Sure, I replied. But there is a difference between an open mind and a whole in your head from which your brain leaks out. He seemed to agree, but we did not linger on this issue too long.
6. The fact that denying the Holocaust is illegal in some areas says nothing about its validity as an historical explanation.
He often played the martyr card by saying that he did not think it was reasonable for it to be illegal to deny the Holocaust and that he did not support throwing such individuals in jail. This, however, is at best an irrelevant meta-discussion and the best way to counter this is to say that people should not be thrown in jail because of their expression of their convictions per se, but emphasize that this is irrelevant for the historical evidence.
These where the major claims he put forward so let us now move on to my critical questions. The discussion was about to end so I did not have that much time.
7. Data from demographics are evidence for the Holocaust
I asked him why, if the Holocaust either did not occur, or if the death toll was just “a few tens of thousands”, how come the demographics for, say, the Jewish population before and after the War showed a decrease of about 6 million. He replied that perhaps they moved, but could not say where or provide evidence from demographics to show this. It is curious to note that this is contradictory to his earlier statement that he accepted the existence of concentration camps and that the Nazis shipped many Jews there.
8. Why was carbon monoxide used?
This relates strongly to the first section. If there were no gas chambers, why did the Nazis produce large amounts of carbon monoxide? He was unable to reply to this successfully, merely suggesting that perhaps the notion that they used carbon monoxide was just a lie that was part of the conspiracy. So in other words, he thought that the lack of evidence for a conspiracy theory is just evidence for the conspiracy theory, showing that it was, for all intents and purposes, unfalsifiable.
9. What would have to be demonstrated for you to change your mind?
He could not specify what evidence would convince him that the mainstream historical account is the most reasonable position, mainly because he had confessed that he did not know that much about what the historical case for the reality of the Holocaust was. This is a clear admission that he was not very open to being wrong. He asked me the same question back, but I replied that historical documents and physical evidence converging on the same general conclusion would convince me. Before we parted ways, I asked him to figure out what would have to be the case for him to change his minds and he agreed.
10. Lessons learned?
What lessons did I learn from this experience? Mainly the following three:
Do not act condescending or nasty towards the person, because then this will just strengthen his or her belief that he or she is a martyr for his or her beliefs as a defense mechanism. Be polite.
Even the most kind and otherwise rational person can be severely mistaken in other areas, even to the point of being a pseudoskeptic, without noticing it.
It is quote difficult to argue from the top of one’s head. If you aim to become a professional scientific skeptic or pseudoscience debunker, be prepared for anything. Even try to carry around papers and images in your backpack or bag just in case or practice short one-liners against most common arguments.
11. References and Further Reading
Evans, Richard J. (2001) Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial. New York: Basic Books,
Gottfried, Ted. (2001). Deniers of the Holocaust: Who They Are, What They Do, Why They Do It. Brookfield, CT: Twenty-First Century Books.
Jan Van Pelt, Robert. (2002) The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial. New York: Indiana University Press.
Lipstadt, Deborah. (1993). Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. New York: Free Press.
Shermer, Michael and Alex Grobman. (2008). Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? Berkeley: University of California Press.
Van Husen, William H. (1999). “Zyklon B” in World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge.
Zimmerman, John C. (2000). Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies, and Ideologies. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
The edifice of the 'holocaust' house of cards rests on the impossible, contradictory, and bizarre statements made by so called "eyewitnesses.
Karlsson discusses the well known lack of reliability of "eyewitnesses such that he apparently has no clue just how badly he refutes his own position on the so called 'holocaust. In one of his few moments of clarity Karlsson shoots himself in the foot. Apply Karlsson's points about "eyewitneses" in general to those "eyewitnesses" of the 'holocaust' storyline and we end up with Karlsson being a Revisionist whether he acknowledges it or not, Comical actually, see:
http://debunkingdenialism.com/2013/08/2 ... courtroom/
The tide is turning.Common misconceptions about memory
There is a lot of common misunderstandings about memory. It is not like a video camera, perfectly recording and storing memory for later retrieval. It can change over time, adding and subtracting details, filling in blanks and become distorted. A popular misconception is that the accuracy of a memory is proportional to the confidence assigned to it by the eyewitness. In reality, the correlation between confidence and accuracy is weak. Hypnosis is not considered to be effective for accurate recall, despite the fact that over half of the general public sampled believe it to be (among the memory expert sample, 0% agreed or strongly agreed).
One striking finding is that people who work within law enforcement and the criminal justice system display only a little less ignorance about memory as do college students, who in turn are not that much better than the general public. This has profound implications for the court system.
How memory can get distorted
There are many different ways that human memory can become distorted. In principle, distortions can occur during perception, encoding, storage and retrieval. Here are some of the main causes of distortion mentioned by the paper.
Post-identification feedback: memory confidence tends to increase if exposed to positive feedback by law enforcement personnel after the identification or decrease if exposed to negative feedback. Because they are often perceived as authorities, their feedback is taken into account by eyewitnesses in making an estimate of accuracy. This kind of effect can occur even if the post-identification feedback is non-verbal e. g. facial expression and body language if the person conducting the line-up is not blinded to who the police suspects for the crime. Even repeated questioning can increase the confidence in the accuracy of a memory.
Misinformation effect: distortions of memory can occur after being exposed to misleading information about that memory. Just subtle variations in the wording of a question (e. g. “smashed” versus “hit” related to a car crash) can cause memory distortions, not just about the speed at impact, but also about peripheral details of the scene, such as presence of broken glass.
Passage of time: memories can be distorted by merely the passing of time. The classic study demonstrating this asked people were when they first heard about the events of 9/11. Years later, when asked again, around 40% of people had different memories of the situation. In line with previous research showing a weak correlation between confidence and accuracy, the confidence of the study participants was still high.
Filling in the gap: people have a tendency to fill in the gaps i. e. remembering details that did not actually occur, but fits the general expectations of a certain crime situations.
Leading questions: something similar occurs when lawyers ask leading questions. The information provided by the lawyer can bleed over into becoming a memory of what was said by the eyewitness testimony. This effect still occurs even when jurors are told to focus on what the eyewitness is saying and not the lawyer.
The neuroscience of memory distortion
Memories can be strengthened by a process called long-term potentiation, where the signaling between two neurons is strengthened because they fire together. When certain neurons are wired together do not fire in a coordinated fashion, this can led to a weakened synaptic connection (called long-term depression), and thus presumably a weakened memory. When a person attempts to retrieve a memory, the associated synapses become labile. If the memory is not updated through reconsolidation it may be forgotten. During this process, memory distortions could occur. It is also clear that new and old memories of a situation can interfere with each other. If these are similar in some respects, the attempt to retrieve the old memory can make details of the new memory bleed over. The paper goes into addition details about the neuroscience background.
The consequences of ignorance about memory
The paper discusses several legal consequences of the fact that law enforcement personnel, judges and jurors tend to not be aware about the science of memory. Two startling examples relates to common decisions not to prosecute sexual assaults and how DNA evidence has exonerated hundreds of people who were convicted based on eyewitness testimony.
Prosecution of sexual assaults: according to the review article, around 86% of sexual assaults reported to the police are not prosecuted because the law enforcement personnel consider the testimony given by the putative victim to be unreliable. For sure, some proportion of those testimonies may actually be of low accuracy, but many testimonies might be seen as unreliable because the victims does not display a high degree of confidence. As we have seen, such an inference is not warranted because the correlation between confidence and accuracy is weak.
The Innocence Project: there are over 300 well-documented cases were DNA evidence has exonerated individuals who were wrongfully convicted of a crime, often (~75%) based on eyewitness testimony. The average time that these individuals spent incarcerated was a little over 13 years. On the outside, the financial compensation is typically low and their lives are in ruins. Friends and family have disowned them and they have a hard time finding work.
So what can be done to mitigate and reduce these problems in a legal context?
The review paper recommends a number of suggestions for reducing the problems associated with misconceptions and distortions related to memory. These suggestions apply to a number of areas, such as the interviewing of eyewitnesses, suspect identification and jurors.
Eyewitnesses interviews: because of potential for distortions caused by e. g. post-identification feedback, any confidence statements should be recorded right away. The interviewer should use the enhanced cognitive interview technique: giving over the control of the conversation to the witness (to avoid unintentional manipulation by individuals with perceived authority), reminiscing back to the context of situation (sight, smells, sounds feelings, thoughts etc.), a free recall segment to remember as much as possible (even if it is not in chronological order) and a segment with open questions.
The paper even makes the suggestion that several eyewitness accounts that show some degree of consistency should not automatically be believed to have more accuracy, as they may not be independent and all individuals are susceptible to the same kinds of memory biases and errors. Although the paper does not discuss this, a key case study of this is the murder of former Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Anna Lindh. She was stabbed in a major department store in Stockholm in late 2003. The police managed to identify and isolate witnesses. Unfortunately, they were all isolated in the same room and started talking to each other. Furthermore, the police held some initial eyewitnesses interviews in that room in the presence of all witnesses, some of whom interjected and “corrected” the testimony of other individuals. These processes ended up distorting and contaminating the memory of the witnesses, leading the police to release a lot of incorrect details about the suspect. They even initially arrested the wrong person. Around a week later, DNA analysis of items left behind by the murderer cleared this person and another individual, Mijailo Mijailović, was arrested. Mijailović was later sentenced to life imprisonment. Without DNA evidence, this could have been a miscarriage of justice. For more details about the social influence on eyewitnesses in the Lindh case, see Granhag, Memon and Hjelmsäter (2010).
Suspect identification: the non-suspects selected to take part in a line-up should resemble the suspect. The law enforcement personnel should remind the witness that the suspect might not be in the line-up and the individuals that are part of the line-up should be presented sequentially instead of simultaneously. Both of these guidelines has been shown to strongly reduce false positives (and slightly reduce true positives). The line-up should also be double-blind i.e. done by a law enforcement personnel who does not know who the suspect is. If short on staff, this can be done by a computer displaying images of the individuals taking part in the line-up.
Jurors: they should be allowed to take notes during court proceedings as the information presented is vast and it might be difficult to find relevant information in long court transcripts. Taking notes also seems to improve memory. They should also be informed about the fact that memory is not immune to changes, the potential for leading and misleading questions to distort memory, that confidence is not an accurate guide to accuracy and that people tend to fill in the gaps in their memory by inventing things that may or may not have happened.
The paper offers three main conclusions. First, there are a lot of misconceptions about memory even by law enforcement personnel, judges and even jurors and this has adverse effects in the courtroom. More education and awareness about the science of memory is needed, both for the general public and for people who work in association to the legal system. Second, the legal system should reexamine the evidential value of eyewitness testimony and they even point to suggestions that individuals should not be convicted based on eyewitness testimony alone. Finally, more research should be done so that we can know more about its limitations, how we can detect errors and improve it.
Granhag, Pär Anders, Memon, Amina, & Hjelmsäter, Emma Roos af. (2010). Social influence on eyewitness memory. In P. A. Granhag (Ed.), Forensic Psychology in Context: Nordic and international approaches (pp. 139-140). Portland, Oregon: Willian Publishing.
Lacy J. W., & Stark C. E. (2013). The neuroscience of memory: implications for the courtroom. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 14 (9), 649-58 PMID: 23942467