The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Article 6528 of alt.revisionism:
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From: (Jamie R. McCarthy)
Subject: Michael Shermer's reply to David Cole, 26-27 June 1995
Message-ID: <>
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo MI 49006
References: <>
Date: Sat, 1 Jul 1995 02:04:46 GMT

Since David Cole and I had been discussing Dr. Michael Shermer, the
publisher of Skeptic magazine, I wanted to give him a chance to reply to
some of Mr. Cole's allegations.  He kindly returned my email and asked
me to post it publicly:

[email forwarded to me on Mon, 26 Jun 1995]


I do not have David Cole's e-mail address so you may pass this along to him
and/or just post it where he might read it:

Jamie McCarthy posted an e-mail message regarding a dialogue on the net
between he and Holocaust revisionist David Cole. My response to McCarthy and
Cole is as follows:

Jaime, you are indeed correct in your assessment of our liberal letters
policy. If I recall from my phone conversation with David Cole, as he whined
incessently for over half an hour about my article, I told him that he would
be free to write a letter to the magazine and that I would publish it. We
publish dozens of letters, usually quite lengthy, and yet none of the
revisionists we interviewed at length have replied: not Mark Weber, not
Bradley Smith, not Ernst Zundel, and certainly not David Cole. I have never
heard from Cole after that conversation that he has now admitted publicly was
illegally taped. I could sue Cole and he could go to jail for his action. It
is illegal in the State of California to tape a phone conversation without
the other person's knowledge. There is a $10,000 fine and/or a six-month jail
sentence. I would not bother with such actions against Cole, however, because
he is not worth the time.

I told Cole (again, from memory, since I did not record the conversation)
that my inclusion of him in the list was a minor sentence structure mistake
and not an intentional claim on his motives. I continue to hold fast to my
analysis of him as someone who likes to stir things up, and his latest round
of letters to you and everyone else on the net about me is further evidence
of this. 

I will state publicly and for the record, that I do not think David Cole is a
racist or an anti-Semite. If he wants a retraction in Skeptic, however, he is
going to have to submit a letter like everyone else, and then I will respond.
In fact, after talking to Mark Weber since my article I don't think I would
put him in that list either, though I still believe he is wrong in his
overall assessment of what happened in the Holocaust.  

The reason, I believe, David Cole thinks I am untrustworthy is that he was
shocked I did not come down on his side. The reason I believe he was shocked
was that I treated Cole with considerable politeness and I was always quite
friendly to him. I even had him up to my home, bought him a pizza, made him
coffee, and spent several hours with him there (not to mention many, many
hours on the phone, in the plane coming back from the Donahue show, etc.). I
actually got to like the guy, and I think he got to like me somewhat. But
Cole confused niceness with intellectual responsibility. Just because I'm
nice and polite to someone does not mean I agree with them. (E.g., I like
Frank Tipler, but I do not think he has proved that physics proves the
existence of God.) Cole was, I believe, hurt that he trusted me, liked me,
and that I disagreed with him, which feels like betrayal. Further, he was
especially upset that I did not directly address his "38 unanswered
questions." There were several reasons for this: (1) Editorial space--this
was already the longest article ever published in Skeptic and I did not want
to abuse my position by going way overboard; (2) I was unable to get answers
to these questions from any of my sources most of whom had never asked such
questions or heard anyone else ask such questions; and (3) I suspected that
most of these "38 unanswered questions" were nonquestions, and therefore
irrelevant to the analysis. On point (3) I was right. Most of Cole's
questions are a joke and demonstrate that (a) he either has a very limited
thinking capacity (not true); (b) that he is asking them in order to stir
things up; or (c) that he is so convinced that the gassings never took place
he will look for and find anything to fit his paradigm (it is probably a
combination of b and c). 

For example, Cole asks why don't the peepholes in the doors at Mauthausen
have metal grids over them to protect them from being broken by the victims
and letting the gas escape? Well, when you actually see the peepholes you
know why they don't have protective grids. The glass is about 1/2 inch thick,
nestled between two circular 1/2 inch thick steel shrouds, themselves welded
to a one-inch thick steel door. It would take a ball-peen hammer to break
such glass, and if I recall the Nazis did not provide these to the inmates
for their "showers." 

True, some of Cole's questions are interesting and I was unable to answer a
take some more research, and this I am now doing. Such complicated, technical
issues, especially in the area of such a sensitive subject as the Holocaust,
must be handled properly, carefully, and, especially, thoroughly. The last
thing I'm going to do is allow Cole or any other revisionist force me to rush
to judgment when I do not have all the facts on a specific claim. 

And here is a bit of philosophy of science for you. Coming into the paradigm
(the Holocaust) I knew very little beyond what any historian learns in a
class or two on World War II. The mass gassings, shootings, etc., are all
taken for granted by virtually everyone but revisionists. In my research for
my article I was able to debunk most of their claims. The fact that I did not
include Cole's questions was not part of some conspiracy, or intellectual
cowardice on my part, or pressure from Jewish organizations to not talk about
it, or anything like this. A couple of those questions need further research
before conclusions that change the accepted history can be drawn. It would be
irresponsible of me to ask the question without trying to answer it. That's

In this now famous conversation that Cole taped this is what I tried to
explain to him, but he obviously did not get it. I do recall him trying
desperately to get me to say certain things, and had I been a bit more aware
I might have realized he was trying to entrap me on tape. My colleague Pat
Linse was sitting in the room when I was talking to Cole and she recalls my
exasperation with him, repeating over and over the same points, which he
would not accept because he wanted me to say something else. I honestly do
not recall exactly what I said (who does in the course of a dozen casual
conversations in a day) and so I suppose he could easily produce segments of
a tape that might indeed sound damaging to me. And with modern equipment one
could even edit someone's taped conversation to get them to say almost
anything you want. This is probably why such a law prohibiting taping
conversations exists. (I'm not saying Cole did this or would do it; or that
Cole would even do something with it to try to damage my reputation [in which
case he would be promptly sued and likely fined and jailed]; just that the
possibility exists.)

Cole as meta-idealogue v. idealogue. Difficult to say with Cole as he is
slippery and sharp. I believe he came into the field of Holocaust revisionism
as a meta-idealogue but has been drifting more and more toward an actual
idealogue--that is, he had the option to do his Holocaust research without
associating with the revisionists, which I think he did initially, but has
more and more chose to call himself a revisionist and promote himself as a
revisionist. He is taking a stand in this field, and that makes him an

Being an idealogue, by the way, is not inherently bad in my book. It just is.
It is something different than science and thus I think one stands a better
chance at finding truth as a scientist than as an idealogue, but it is more
difficult to promote a position or belief, which is what idealogues do, and
Cole is more and more doing. On the other hand, his break with Faurisson,
dean of revisionism, could find him on the outs and push him back into a more
neutral position. But since Holocaust historians do not tolerate revisionists
so well, Cole is likely to find himself as a man without a country--a
position, I suspect, he rather likes.

Of all the revisionists I met I find Cole to be the most peculiar. Both
Zundel and especially Weber have continually been exceedingly polite and kind
to me, even after the Skeptic article. They seem to harbor no grudge and we
have agreed to disagree with no hard feelings. Cole, on the other hand,
cannot seem to handle the rough and tumble world of intellectual debate
without getting emotionally involved and his feelings hurt. That's too bad
because he does have a good mind.

Michael Shermer  

[email sent to me on Tue, 27 Jun 1995]


Let me make a few remarks about David Cole's interview with Don Van Handel.
You may post this anywhere or to anyone you like.

Don Van Handel's interview with David Cole is vintage Cole--clever insights
mixed with total nonsense.

1. Cole continues to portray himself as the disinterested scientist willing
to just let the facts speak for themselves. To this extent he is rather
naive. The facts never just speak for themselves, especially in history.
Besides, if he doesn't take sides, then why does he call himself a

2. Handel's question about his opinion of the fate of Europe's Jews was a
nonanswer. Cole says, "If I ever publish again." Again? Where has Cole ever
published anything? Cole does not appear to have the courage (or ability) to
put anything down in print. He hints at his book. Ya, right. Cole cannot even
write a letter to Skeptic in response to my analysis. He has never published
an article or essay (or even a letter) in the Journal of Historical Review.
How is he going to write a book?

3. Cole claims credit for getting the Auschwitz State Museum to tell tourists
that Krema 1 is a reconstruction. That's news to me. I was just there and
took the standard tour and the guide never mentioned that it was a
reconstruction. When I asked about it, I was told it was a reconstruction and
it was explained to me how this was done. But there was nothing being hidden.
No conspiracy.

4. Cole claims that he has been called a liar and a fraud. I have never seen
in print or heard anyone call Cole a liar or a fraud. I know Dr. Piper was
very displeased with Cole's video, but not because of anything Piper said. It
was that Cole pretended to be something he was not, including wearing a
yarmulke. In the video he says he wore it so no one would think he was a
revisionist. Call me old fashioned, but where I come from that is called

5. Cole claims that historians denied there was a swimming pool at Auschwitz.
Oh? How could they have done that since it is there and full of water, right
outside one of the barracks that every tourists sees when they go through the
tour? No one has ever denied there is a swimming pool at Auschwitz. It was
used by the SS and for certain prisoners who were rewarded for certain acts
of obedience. Everyone knows this. David Cole uncovered absolutely nothing. 

6. Cole continues with this smug, holier-than-thou-historians attitude that
is nauseating. His ego is beyond belief. He claims that historians are
"afraid of having to say 'we don't know that yet." Who is afraid to say that?
Not me. I'll say it publicly right here on the net: there are things about
the Holocaust, particularly with regard to the gas chamber/crematoria aspects
of the mass killings, that need further refinement. This is why I went to
Europe to see the camps for myself and I am now conducting that very
research. If any historian really believed that there was nothing further to
study about a historical event, they wouldn't study it. Period.

7. Cole's attitudes toward race, and his openness to people different from
himself is quite laudable and I will give him credit for being radically
different from other revisionists on this account. 

8. Cole's comment on Faurisson being "a complete fraud and liar masquerading
as a historian" is amazing, to say the least. If Faurisson really thinks Cole
is an agent for the "Jewish conspiracy," then my previous thoughts on
Faurisson's reliability as a thinker are reinforced in spades.

9. Cole's comment about revisionists "who have never given an ounce of
compassion to concentration camp survivors, even though these people have
suffered far more than Faurisson ever has," is almost hard to believe it was
said by a so-called revisionist. What's going on here? Why did Cole never
express such sentiments to me in my interview with him. 

10. I state again, that I have never avoided printing a retraction for Cole,
that in the single sentence listing Weber, Zundel, and Irving I also listed
Cole. I told Cole then and I tell him now (here on the net) that he has only
to submit a letter to the editor, just like everyone else, and we will print

As you can see from the above, Cole certainly elicites a mixed bag of
thoughts and opinions, emblematic, I think, of his own uncertainty about his
position in society and his goals in life.

Michael Shermer 
 Jamie McCarthy    I speak only for myself.

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