Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ken Humphreys and the Holocaust Deniers: Update

One of our longtime contacts made an interesting point I thought worthy of looking into and sharing today.

Some time ago, over on the Forge blog, I made much of the fact that Ken Humphreys, author of the Jesus Never Existed website, made use of the work of a known Holocaust denier. I’ll reprint that post here in full, since this needs more attention.
Christ-mythers seldom impress me with their honesty or decency, but it isn’t often I have an extreme case like this one.

Earlier this week on the Ticker blog I noted that Christian Lindtner, who is a source for several people who try to find parallels between Jesus and Buddha, is also a Holocaust denier. A reader also discovered the same about Lars Adelskogh, who is also used as a source for this.

Now you can imagine what Skeptics would make of this if I ever used a source that held to such an obnoxious (to say nothing of counter-consensus!) view. Holocaust denial is one of the most offensive stances to take in our world today and there have been people disgraced for far lesser views. Brooks Trubee would be fighting with John Loftus in a lights-out death match for the chance to be the first to deliver that scoop. But when you’re a Christ-myther, apparently you get a free pass on such things and morals and checking are completely out the window.

Ken Humphreys, a leading Christ-myther online with whom I once had an online radio debate (Justin Brierley's Unbelievable), makes use of both Lindtner and Adelskogh as sources for his copycat page on Jesus and Buddha. I asked Tekton Research Assistant Punkish to inquire with him as to whether he was aware of their Holocaust denial stance, and what he thought of it. Humphreys' response is both illuminating and disgusting at the same time. We were given permission to reprint it here:

Prof. Lindtner's opinions on matters not germane to the origins of Christianity are neither here not there. Are you, perhaps, suggesting that he has ceased to be an expert in ancient languages and Buddhist scripture? Now that would be worrying!

Neither here nor there? It looks like someone needs to take a swimming break from the cesspool!

No, it is not “neither here nor there” at all. True, it does not taint Lindtner’s knowledge of ancient languages or texts (though from all I have read of the works of credible Buddhist scholars like Richard Saloman, Lindtner isn’t as much an expert on that as he pretends to be either!). It does, however, raise serious questions with respect to how credibly he reports and interprets the facts about those languages and texts -- and when the subject is a matter of some obscurity to those who read the works (eg, Sanskrit, and Buddhist scriptures), credibility is an exceptionally important factor in whether or not a source can be trusted. Humphreys does not know anything about Sanskrit. Nor do I. Nor do nearly all of our readers. We are therefore obliged to take (or not take) the likes of Lindtner at their word when it comes to what they say about these subjects, and when such a person shows questionable judgment, as is required for someone who denies the Holocaust, we have two options if we wish to be responsible brokers of information:

1) Verify the data and arguments from more credible sources. (Though as noted, when I have tried to do this, Lindtner has failed conspicuously in various ways!)
2) If we can't verify, don't use the source in arguments and don't use their arguments.

It’s not a simple matter of “he’s biased, so you can’t trust him” (a common canard which I have been accused of myself), but rather, that the position(s) held are so counter-consensus, so contrary to the evidence, and -- here, most critical of all -- so rooted in an offensive ideology, that any sane person would check them out before using or defending these sources. It is clear that Humphreys and others who use these “scholars” as sources either can’t see this, or are so badly on the defensive when it comes to their own adherence to a fringe thesis that they don’t want to.

Indeed, it is more germane than even this. The root of Holocaust denial is anti-Semitism. So, in fact, is Lindtner’s mission to force a match between Jesus and Buddha. One of the lesser known aspects of the Nazi program was Hitler’s attempts to validate Aryan supremacy by sending teams of archaeologists all over the world, including into Tibet, to find evidence for this thesis. Someone who tries to deny the essential Jewish origins and background of Christianity, and instead tries to find origins on Buddhism, fits hand in glove with this anti-Semitic tendency. (The swastika, note, was a Buddhist symbol well before the Nazis corrupted it.) Those who use Lindtner and his ilk as sources are thereby participating fully in his campaign of anti-Semitism and enabling it.

Humphreys further stated:

The study of JC is complex enough without having to vet and approve the political or philosophical position of every contributor. You may think me naive but I chose to believe facts are facts and logic is logic.

Naïve? That’s an understatement. Humphreys is not only naïve for using these works; he’s also sorrowful, reprehensible, and irresponsible. The stances held by Lindtner should immediately raise in the minds of any decent human being the question of whether indeed his “facts” can be trusted and whether his “logic” is sound (though even if Lindtner were as pure as the driven snow, applying those terms to his work would be comical). If indeed “facts” and “logic” are what is at stake, then surely Humphreys can find some other qualified scholar in the field who makes the same assessments but doesn’t hold to a patently offensive ideology that so coarsely devalues the lives of six million Jewish victims of Hitler’s hatred. (The obvious problem for Humphreys, of course, is that no qualified scholar does hold such absurd positions or make such absurd arguments.)

From here on, this will become one of Tekton’s crusades. We will hunt down and highlight those like Humphreys who make use of these despicable scholars and their work, until they remove those references from their material – or else until they kick the bucket.

Of course, if they don’t, that’s fine too – because in the end, it will become all the more apparent to observers that such persons have little interest in truth, and even less interest in honesty and decency.
My contact deepened the subject further with an interesting point. These days, the book version of Humphreys’ theories is put out by an outfit called Iconoclast Press. But the original publisher was a place called “Historical Review Press.” In fact you can still buy that edition on Amazon. 

And what else did HRP publish besides Humphreys’ book?

I’ll give you some titles.

The True History of the Holocaust: Did Six Million Really Die?

The Origins of Christianity (by Revilo P. Oliver)

The Hoax of the Twentieth Century: The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry

How much more, we wonder, would it take for Humphreys to be ashamed of himself? He apparently chose HRP as his original publisher, and I rather doubt he did so having no idea what their reputation was, or what else they published.

Is there any chance that atheists will police their own ranks a bit here?