Look, ma! I can quote-mine historians too!

| 93 Comments

Ben_Stein_mitt_uns copy.JPGIn the absence of evidence or solid logical arguments, Creationists have long resorted to the strategy of quote-mining, the purposeful misrepresentation of scientists’ opinions by selective or distorted quotation of their words, to buttress their claims. With the Creationists behind the movie Expelled hard at work to demonstrate that “Darwinism” was a necessary pre-condition for the Holocaust and Hitler’s primary inspiration, it was only a matter of time before historians suffered the same fate. Enter David Klinghoffer, the Discovery Institute’s hired hit-pen and journalistic hatchet job expert.

On the Orwellianly named DI blog Evolution News & Views (their stated motto: “The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site”), Klinghoffer argued yesterday that most historians endorse the view that Darwinism played a pivotal role in Hitler’s ideology.

Fortunately, serious historians of the past half century have been freer than media hacks to explore the complexity of Nazism’s actual genealogy. One thing that these expert scholars have almost universally agreed on is that Darwinism contributed mightily to Hitlerism.

In her classic 1951 work The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt wrote: “Underlying the Nazis’ belief in race laws as the expression of the law of nature in man, is Darwin’s idea of man as the product of a natural development which does not necessarily stop with the present species of human being.”

Or just pick up any standard biography of Hitler.

In Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, Alan Bullock writes: “The basis of Hitler’s political beliefs was a crude Darwinism.” What Hitler found objectionable about Christianity was its rejection of the conclusions that followed from Darwin’s theory: “Its teaching, he declared, was a rebellion against the natural law of selection by struggle and the survival of the fittest.”

Joachim C. Fest, in Hitler, describes how the Nazi tyrant “extract[ed] the elements of his world view” from various influences including “popular treatments of Darwinism.” Hitler, like lots of other Europeans and Americans of his day, saw Darwinism as offering a total picture of social reality. In his biography, Hitler: 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw explains that “crude social-Darwinism” gave Hitler “his entire political ‘world-view.’”

John Toland’s Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, finally, says this of Hitler’s “Second Book” (1928), never published in his lifetime: “An essential of Hitler’s conclusions in this book was the conviction drawn from Darwin that might makes right.”

You get the idea.

[emphases in the text are mine - AB]

Now, if you have been involved in the Creationism-evolution skirmishes for a while, you get a sixth sense for quote mines, something just doesn’t look right to you: very short quotes, ellipses, words altered or inserted. Fortunately, I had access to Fest’s excellent Hitler biography, so I looked. On page 201, Fest is describing Hitler’s voracious but unsophisticated reading habits, and then writes:

Yet he [Hitler] went on extracting the elements of his world view from pseudoscientific secondary works: tracts on race theory, anti-Semitic pamphlets, treatises on the Teutons, on racial mysticism and eugenics, as well as popular treatments of Darwinism and the philosophy of history. JJoachim Fest, Hitler, Harcourt 2002, p. 201

This is what Klinghoffer wants to pass as this historian’s equivalent of “contributed mightily”: on par with “treatises on the Teutons”!

Once again, no one is arguing that Darwinian ideas did not play a role in Hitler’s philosophical outlook. The tunnel-vision propaganda of Creationists however would want you to believe that, had Darwin not existed, the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened, never mind that anti-semitic genocide existed long before Darwin, and that - regardless of Hitler’s personal ideological sources - he motivated hundreds of thousands of “willing executioners”, and drove millions more to culpable acquiescence, using overwhelmingly nationalistic and Christian religious rhetoric, without which he would have just been a lunatic fringe politicians screaming in Munich’s Bierhalles.

The claim of a direct, causal relationship from Darwinian evolutionary theory to Nazism, reiterated by Ben Stein himself when he said that Darwinism was “necessary” for the Holocaust, is simply a load of historical bollocks, and a cheap exploitation of the deaths of millions at the hands of the Nazis. For factually accurate information about the deep roots of Nazi antisemitism and the various forces that influenced it, the web site of the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC is an excellent resource. Of course, the entire argument in Expelled (a mix of textbook “Reductio ad Hitlerum” and hammy parallels between Nazi persecutions and the alleged censorship of pro-ID scientists in academia) falls apart if Darwin was just one of many sources of Hitler’s hodgepodge ideology - they might as well blame the Holocaust on Wagner and the Bayeruth Conspiracy.

Perhaps Klinghoffer should have read further down the same page in Fest’s book:

In actual fact, knowledge meant nothing to Hitler; he was not acquainted with the pleasure or the struggle that goes with its acquisition; to him it was merely useful, and the “art of corrected reading” of which he spoke was nothing more than the hunt for formulations to borrow and authorities to cite in support of his own preconceptions: “correctly coordinated within the somehow existing picture”. Joachim Fest, Hitler, Harcourt 2002, p. 201

Or, perhaps, he has.

******

Added in proof:

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it does. I wish I could say that is finally the bottom of this intellectual slime pit, but I am afraid it won’t be.

Let me remind everyone of the words of Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, with respect to a “documentary” by Coral Ridge Ministries making the very same points that Ben Stein, David Klinghoffer and Richard Weikart (who also personally contributed his own historical insights to that documentary) are now arguing for:

Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.

93 Comments

Are you sure the Ben Stein image is not copyrighted?

I think there is a more fundamental issue here. Evolutionary theory is a scientific theory that, like all scientific theories, simply endeavors to describe and explain the way the world IS. Anyone who thinks that a scientific theory (evolution included) necessarily implies that people should behave in a particular way or implies anything about the way the world SHOULD be, does not understand what science is all about.

Also, when some particular scientist expresses his opinion about the way the world OUGHT to be, that does not in any way imply that that is what science says.

Science, history, … and theology. Quote-mining is their standard mode of “scholarship.” I constantly saw the latter when I studied theology at and IF-friendly institution of higher learning.

Context, we need no stinkin’ context.

There are a lot of evolutionary biologists in Israel itself, at Haifa, Tev Aviv, Hebrew, Ben Gurion among others. They aren’t Darwinists plotting the next Holocaust. Just normal scientists doing normal science.

They even have their own journal, The Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution.

Doesn’t look like Jewish scientists buy the Darwindidit story either.

The Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution is dedicated to publishing high quality original research and review papers that advance our knowledge and understanding of the function, diversity, abundance, distribution, and evolution of organisms at all levels of biological organization as they interact with their biotic and abiotic environments. (Click to read our mission statement.) Editors-in-Chief Blaustein, Leon University of Haifa, Israel **** Kotler, Burt P. Ben-Gurion University, Israel ****

Subject Editors from Israel Abramsky, Zvika Ben Gurion University, Israel **** Carmel, Yohay Technion, Haifa, Israel **** Dayan, Tamar Tel Aviv University, Israel **** Genin, Amatzia Hebrew University, Interuniversity Institute, Eilat, Israel **** Ilan, Micha Tel Aviv University, Israel **** Izhaki,Ido University of Haifa>, Oranim, Israel **** Kark, Salit Hebrew University, Israel **** Krasnov, Boris Ben Gurion University, Israel **** Motro, Uzi Hebrew University, Israel **** Ovadia, Ofer Ben Gurion University, Israel **** Stone, Lewi Tel Aviv University, Israel **** Yom-Tov, Yoram Tel Aviv University, Israel **** Yuval, Boaz Hebrew University, Israel **** Ziv, Yaron Ben Gurion University, Israel ****

Sorry for the intrusion raven, I edited out the personal e-mail addresses just in case. People can follow the link if they wish. - AB

Tim Tesar:

Are you sure the Ben Stein image is not copyrighted?

I am sure midwifetoad, the AtBC poster whom made the pic, originally created it from scratch in his/her super-secret graphic design lair, using a team of mediocre character actors/comedians and ex-nixonian-speech-writers as experts.

But if I get a polite note to prettyplease take it down, and on advice from counsel, I may comply.

From the DI site on Klinghoffer’s response:

“The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site. Unfortunately, much of the news coverage has been sloppy, inaccurate, and in some cases, overtly biased. Evolution News & Views presents analysis of that coverage, as well as original reporting that accurately delivers information about the current state of the debate over Darwinian evolution.”

Misreporting of the evolution issue…? …accurately…? What liars these creationists are.

I’m still waiting for someone to demonstrate something more then just a misquoted historian, a lie from a creationist, or a baseless ascertion.

Where is the evidence?!

Chad:

I’m still waiting for someone to demonstrate something more then just a misquoted historian, a lie from a creationist, or a baseless ascertion.

Where is the evidence?!

Are you asking for evidence that darwinian theory was not necessary for the Holocaust (or not more necessary than nationalism, Christianity, anti-Marxism, capitalist economic theories, etc)? What would that look like?

The real question is: can creationists muster anything more than misquotations, lies and baseless assertions?

*sighs*

Yep, there it is. Outrage fatigue. And it’s only Wednesday afternoon.

The real question is: can creationists muster anything more than misquotations, lies and baseless assertions?

No they can’t. The Holocaust happened 63 years ago and was one of the most dramatic events of the 20th century.

The obvious question was why? and historians and survivors have been asking that for 63 years. If Darwindidit, we would have known 2 generations ago. Most historians place the blame on a blend of German culture and German variety Xianity. It is in wikipedia among other places.

Ironically the USA has a strong evolutionist component. Roughly 40% of the population and 99% of the relevant intelligentsia. Much of the work on the modern Theory of evolution was done and is done here.

Seen any death camps lately in North America. Anyone rounding up the Jews? Anyone even hinting that we should do that. Outside of the Xian Identity wingnuts. NO!!! In fact, at least some evolutionary biologists are Jewish. The USA is one of the few places where Jews have assimilated and we also support Israel with billions of USD every year.

The Expelleds are simply using an atrocity to try and further their own ideological crusade. It won’t work but it might boomerang on them.

raven: The Expelleds are simply using an atrocity to try and further their own ideological crusade. It won’t work but it might boomerang on them.

Well, it will “work” in the sense that it will help the true-believing creationists dig in their heels and insist upon keeping children in schools ignorant of not only modern science but (now, apparently) accurate history as well.

I would certainly hope to see some groups like the Anti-Defamation League or other Jewish groups making some noise about this movie. Has anyone seen any reaction from these groups?

To whatever extent the Holocaust was aided by On The Origin of Species, it was also aided by On the Jews and Their Lies. If the Expelled crew want to pin it on Darwin, they need to be pinning it on Luther as well.

I would certainly hope to see some groups like the Anti-Defamation League or other Jewish groups making some noise about this movie. Has anyone seen any reaction from these groups?

Good question. When Coral Ridge’s From Darwin to Hitler came out, the ADL had some harsh words in 2006.

As to what they will say this time, who knows? Seems like the Holocaust was so long ago that no one even cares why it happened anymore. But it makes a nice political football. “Here, you hold it.” “No, it is your turn to be blamed.”

adl.org:

ADL Blasts Christian Supremacist TV Special & Book Blaming Darwin For Hitler

New York, NY, August 22, 2006 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today blasted a television documentary produced by Christian broadcaster Dr. D. James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Ministries that attempts to link Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to Adolf Hitler and the atrocities of the Holocaust. ADL also denounced Coral Ridge Ministries for misleading Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute for the NIH, and wrongfully using him as part of its twisted documentary, “Darwin’s Deadly Legacy.”

After being contacted by the ADL about his name being used to promote Kennedy’s project, Dr. Collins said he is “absolutely appalled by what Coral Ridge Ministries is doing. I had NO knowledge that Coral Ridge Ministries was planning a TV special on Darwin and Hitler, and I find the thesis of Dr. Kennedy’s program utterly misguided and inflammatory,” he told ADL.

ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in a statement:”This is an outrageous and shoddy attempt by D. James Kennedy to trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust. Hitler did not need Darwin to devise his heinous plan to exterminate the Jewish people. Trivializing the Holocaust comes from either ignorance at best or, at worst, a mendacious attempt to score political points in the culture war on the backs of six million Jewish victims and others who died at the hands of the Nazis.

“It must be remembered that D. James Kennedy is a leader among the distinct group of ‘Christian Supremacists’ who seek to “reclaim America for Christ” and turn the U.S. into a Christian nation guided by their strange notions of biblical law.”

The documentary is scheduled to air this weekend along with the publication of an accompanying book “Evolution’s Fatal Fruit: How Darwin’s Tree of Life Brought Death to Millions.”

A Coral Ridge Ministries press release promoting the documentary says the program “features 14 scholars, scientists, and authors who outline the grim consequences of Darwin’s theory of evolution and show how his theory fueled Hitler’s ovens.”

Well, it will “work” in the sense that it will help the true-believing creationists dig in their heels and insist upon keeping children in schools ignorant of not only modern science but (now, apparently) accurate history as well.

Yes, Evolution is now a threefer. You get to pretend that objective reality doesn’t exist, science is evil, and it can be used to rewrite history.

The creos don’t need another propaganda film to embrace Voluntary Ignorance and keep their kids stupid. They will anyway.

It is a matter of time until someone figures out that Darwinists nailed Jesus to the cross.

Well. the Creos have finally convinced me. I now realize that science is too dangerous to teach. I think we should round up all science teachers and retrain them to teach something safer. Maybe art or economics.

Tim Tesar:

Are you sure the Ben Stein image is not copyrighted?

Parody is protected, especially in a non-profit setting.

raven:

It is a matter of time until someone figures out that Darwinists nailed Jesus to the cross.

They’ve already tried…

One Henry Morris alleges that the various nefarious scientists and philosophers of the 19th Century were trying to revive the “pagan philosophies” of the Greek Atomists, who, in turn, the ideological descendants of the Babylonian priesthood trained by the legendary King Nimrod of Babylon, who, in turn, was taught by none other than the Devil, himself. (p 193 of Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism)

In actual fact, knowledge meant nothing to Hitler; he was not acquainted with the pleasure or the struggle that goes with its acquisition; to him it was merely useful, and the “art of corrected reading” of which he spoke was nothing more than the hunt for formulations to borrow and authorities to cite in support of his own preconceptions: “correctly coordinated within the somehow existing picture”. Joachim Fest, Hitler, Harcourt 2002, p. 201

So Hitler was a quote-miner, too.

the ideological descendants of the Babylonian priesthood trained by the legendary King Nimrod of Babylon, who, in turn, was taught by none other than the Devil, himself

I saw that in a Christian graphic novel years ago–now I know the source. Interesting.

So Hitler was a quote-miner, too.

How low can you get, quote mining about quote miner!

Just a point of note folks. If you’re looking to link on a blog in order to get the NCSE Expelled Exposed website a higher Google ranking, you should heed this advice…

http://forums.randi.org/showpost.ph[…]postcount=10

Bottom Line:

Do not use “Expelled Exposed” as your anchor text! (The anchor text is the visible text in a link). We need to get it moved higher in the Google rankings for when people search for the the movie. That means searches that have “expelled” in them but not “exposed”.

So, for example, like this: Expelled :)

Back to your regularly scheduled thread…

Hmmm…

ID proponent premise #1: Darwinism leads to atrocities like the Holocaust.

ID proponent premise #2: Darwinism isn’t science, its just another religion

ID conclusion: Religion leads to atrocity.

QED

Ok, always happy to trade Hitler quotes, try this one from Tolland p213 from the chapter “Hitlers Secret Book” quoting Mein Kampf:

“Therefore, I am now convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator by fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s work.”

I’ll see your Hitler quote and raise you.

Adolf Hitler, speech, April 12 1922, published in My New Order:

“My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them.”

Those quotes are certainly significant, but all they signify is that, once again, Hitler was just adept at picking and choosing whatever suited his purposes. He could talk about natural selection and “survival of the fittest”, and ban books on real evolutionary biology with the next breath. He could fill his mouth with appeals to God the Creator and imagine himself fulfilling some Divine Mission, while accusing Christianity of being the religion of the weak and plotting for the State to take over the Church.

The two things are not mutually exclusive.

Reginald:

Tim Tesar:

Are you sure the Ben Stein image is not copyrighted?

Parody is protected, especially in a non-profit setting.

Linkies: Parody,The copyright issues of parody.

Those quotes are certainly significant, but all they signify is that, once again, Hitler was just adept at picking and choosing whatever suited his purposes.

It is a matter of emphasis. How many times did he babble on about god and Jesus and Xianity versus Darwin. Way more of the former.

It is also important to note that Hitler had millions of willing helpers. Without them, he would have been just another loon; sitting in a bar, ranting and raving, and waiting for the internet to be invented so he could reach an audience of dozens. Like Dembski, Meyers, or Behe.

Hitler was also an accomplished mimic, and occasionally enjoyed entertaining children by producing all the sounds of a locomotive entering a Bahnhof, or of a complete WWI artillery barrage with subsequent ground assault.

I’m sure that proves something profoundly anti-scientific.

Yet he [Hitler] went on extracting the elements of his world view from pseudoscientific secondary works: tracts on race theory, anti-Semitic pamphlets, treatises on the Teutons, on racial mysticism and eugenics, as well as popular treatments of Darwinism and the philosophy of history. JJoachim Fest, Hitler, Harcourt 2002, p. 201

Does this mean that modern physics leads inexorably to new age mysticism and quantum-healing because some fruitcakes get their inspiration from “The Dancing Wu-Li Masters” and “The Tao of Physics”?

To quote Peter Olafsson “… the validity of a scientific theory does not hinge upon how it has been interpreted by German dictators.”

A search of a .pdf version of Mein Kampf www.greatwar.nl/books/meinkampf/meinkampf.pdf reveals the use of the word “Christian” 32 times. Use of the word “Darwin”? Zero.

Pauli:

Well, when I studied German, we would tend to translate “Kampf” as “battle” (as in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” - not that this is any less of a mere coincidence than the one you dwell on) rather than “struggle”, but whatever.

For anyone actually interested in a sane examination of the influence of Haeckel on Hitler, I suggest this rather more informed article by historian Robert Richards: The Moral Grammar of Narratives in History of Biology - the case of Haeckel and Nazi Biology. Richards, a professor at U Chicago, is probably the pre-eminent expert on Haeckel in the world; more of his works can be found here.

hitler only killed himself because he hot his gas bill!

Pauli, Trying to make Haeckel into some sort of monster is rather unhistorical since his political views were not remarkable for someone of his era–German history explains them a lot better than Darwinism. The business about the doctored illustrations is also something of a red herring if you know much about the normal practice of scientific illustration in the time. If you’re really interested in understanding the problems involved with objective representation instead of making polemical points, I recommend you read Objectivity by Daston and Galison (2007), which deals with the disparate ways that scientists defined an accurate illustration in the 19th Century. Haeckel doubtlessly over did it, but the kind of redrawing he did on what were, after all, merely pedagogical illustrations is not different in principle from the sort of thing that the illustrators of field guides do to this day in order to make their work easier to use.

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This page contains a single entry by Andrea Bottaro published on April 16, 2008 2:07 PM.

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