Is True Skepticism Possible?

551px-HolocaustSeveral months ago I’ve had a very disturbing revelation. I used to think I was a true skeptic but now I know that I’m not. I’m not sure it’s even possible for anyone to really be a true skeptic. This realization all started when I came across a video by Anthony Lawson called “Holocaust, Hate Speech & Were the Germans so Stupid?”. The title seemed innocuous enough and I knew and respected Lawson for other work he had done. So I watched it. To summarize the video briefly, it makes a seemingly strong case for the fact that although many many Jewish people definitely did die in Germany’s Nazi concentration camps, there is no credible evidence that the Nazis had in place a plan to kill Jews en masse in gas chambers. Instead, according to the video at least, the Jews died mostly from illness, typhus in particular.

After watching the video I realized that I had believed the official story of the Jewish Holocaust despite having absolutely no evidence that it actually happened the way I was told it happened. The only support I had for this official story were the pronouncements of authorities. This is the exact sort of behavior I have been long criticizing in others. I also realized that I was not interested in expending much effort investigating these claims to either support or disprove them. I am not willing to change my belief on the matter and be agnostic like a true skeptic is supposed to be. To my credit, although I refuse to reject my belief in the Jewish Holocaust, I will stop referring derogatively to those that profess their skepticism of it.

This is not the first time I’ve had such a revelation either. In the mid 90’s I considered myself a real skeptic because I didn’t believe false the notion of “cold fusion”, now known as LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). I had rightly noticed that the belief that “cold fusion” was false was not supported by sound evidence or sound reasoning. Then in the mid 2000’s I was exposed to evidence against the official story of 9/11, 2001. Up until then I believed I was a true skeptic despite believing in the official 9/11 story without question. Again, with 9/11 there is no evidence whatsoever to support key parts of the official 9/11 story. There are only pronouncements from authorities meant to be taken on faith.

Now I understand that there are probably some people that refuse to acknowledge the deficiencies in the official 9/11 story because it is simply to painful to question. For some it might be painful to question because they have publicly stated their beliefs in grandiose arrogant fashion and are now afraid to appear foolish. Others lack the critical reasoning skills to understand a truly skeptical outlook. The remainder pretend to support the pseudo-scientific official story to protect or further their careers or reputations.

The lesson for me is simply to not believe that I am a real skeptic. Such a belief encourages an arrogance or sense of correctness that is most probably false. Do you like arrogant people? Do arrogant people convince you that your arguments are valid? Most people would say no. It would seem that what our world needs is a tolerance and compassion for alternative ideas as opposed to a rigid dogmatic stance.

For the most part I think skepticism is like many things and follows a bell curve. On the extreme left are those that believe everything is true or believe everything is false. A little to the right are mainstream “skeptics”, the Michael Shermers and James Randis that believe anything new, unusual or disturbing is probably false. To the extreme right are those perhaps mythical few that truly apply critical thinking to every idea and let the chips fall where they may. Most of us though are in the middle. Generally we are wary of anything really outlandish unless powerful authority figures tells us it is true or false. Then we’ll tend to believe it without question and mock those that do question it. The reality is that true skepticism is probably an unreachable ideal. It is an ideal we should strive to reach but we also must have the humility to accept that we probably never will.


One comment

  1. Regarding the holocaust gassings, this is something I noticed too— I had always accepted the story on faith. However, I do know that the number of victims are about right, because I grew up in Israel, and I realized that I had already done a quick rough informal survey by learning who was killed in my family, and in that of friends, so I had a sense of the scale of the event. In a typical European Jewish family, about half were killed, and half of 11 mil is 5.5. In my family, for instance, all but my grandfather and grandmother were killed, and of course somebody must have survived, or else I wouldn’t have been born.

    There is also an entire nationality of Jews you just hardly ever find anymore, the Polish Jews. Since the Polish Jews pre-war were a hefty 3mil, you immediately get a lower bound on the number of victims.

    It is difficult to find complete confirmation of the details in ten minutes of searching, just because of two facts:

    1. There were delousing gas chambers in concentration camps, which used Zyklon B as a delousing agent. This was also true at Auschwitz. The holocaust revisionists are correct that the majority of the gas was used for delousing, and a minority for homicidal gassing. The gassings at Treblinka and older camps used carbon monoxide.

    2. There are hardly any real witnesses to the gassings themselves, as all the witnesses died. The Germans didn’t want to see the gassings, all the operation was done by prisoners, who were themselves executed, except for a handful who escaped.

    So the real evidence for the scope of the genocide in this case is demographic, the Jewish organization knew that 3 Mil Polish Jews disappeared, 1.5 Mil Russian Jews disappeared, about .5 Million Hungarian Jews, and .3 Mil German Jews, along with a certain relatively negligible number of French, Dutch, etc. When added up, it comes out to approximately 5.4 million disappeared Jews, the safe estimates are between 4.8 and 5.6 million Jews, and the only fudge the jewish organization is guilty of is rounding up. I suppose that biggest uncertainty is how many of the Russian Jews died by shooting, rather than in fighting, as Soviet casualties were generally very high among all ethnicities. But the estimates that about 1 mil died by shooting in Russia, about 1 mil in Auschwitz, 1 mil in Treblinka, 1 mil in other centers, and about 1 mil died of Typhus and so on, matching the ~5mil who are reported missing, and matching the capacities of the camps, and the deportation records.

    That those Jews were mass murdered is easy to establish based on the deportation records— they arrive at Auschwitz by the hundreds of thousands, and disappear into thin air. For instance, the camp population didn’t budge when 400,000 Hungarian Jews arrived in 1945.

    That they were killed using Zyklon B gas is only established by witness testimony, but here you have confirming testimony of a handful of escapees in a revolt, the testimony of guards and so on. At treblinka, Germans captured the testimony of a guard by posing as Neo-Nazis and recording his reaction.

    Also, it should be pointed out that none of the Germans denied the gassings after the war, the denials started much later, among people far away from the scene. The attitude of the former SS guards to the denials was incomprehension— the guards couldn’t understand why people were denying it, as the homicidal gassings were simply accepted as a fact in the camps by the perpetrators. There are many testimonies to this effect in the 1960s Auschwitz trial, and elsewhere, in German sources.

    But still, I agree with you that a small handful of the deniers are sincere skeptics, Faurisson most likely started out sincere for instance, although it is not clear to me he stayed sincere, or rather just obstinately stuck to his guns in the face of overwhelming evidence.

    It is simply that the sincere ones quickly change their minds, because they are just wrong. For example, Pressac, a prominent denier who worked as Faurrison’s fact-checker was converted to the mainstream view shortly after starting his work, in 1979, while studying the Auschwitz documents (the particularly unambiguous document that converted him is here: . The scientific evidence that the deniers present is crap, in this particular case. The refutations are cogent, unlike 9/11 refutations. For example:

    You can’t dismiss something because of authority, but you can dismiss something once you do a review. In this case, the review supports the official story, although you can, pushing the lower end, come to sensibly believe that only 4 million Jews were murdered, and the rest died of war and Typhus.

    But because the details are well documented, I can’t accept that holocaust denial is a form of honest skepticism, at least if it is held after doing a review. Any document review simply confirms the official story rather easily.

    Regarding cold fusion, although it is not fasionable to say, it is clear that the scientific evidence is overwhelming that something nuclear is happening, but the theoretical impossibility of matching the exact effect by any known phenomenon is so obvious that it creates a tension. In a case like this, you have to believe the experiments, because they have been careful, and carefully confirmed. But it makes sense that there would be a ton of skepticism for a while, although 30 years of skepticism is a little excessive, and causes problems of recognition, as Fleischmann died before he could recieve a well deserved Nobel.

    It is in fact rather straightforward to be a “true skeptic” in the manner you state, although I agree that it is difficult to do. You simply have to eliminate all censorship, internal and external. It requires complete freedom of speech, and complete freedom of thought, and allowing yourself to be completely wrong. This is more common on the internet than off.

    Also, thank you.

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