[ From my forthcoming book, Eclipse ]
DAILYKENN.com -- The Nazis made lampshades from the skins of tattooed Jews. That is the assertion gleaned from Simon Whistler's recent Biographics video on YouTube. You may hear it here.
Revisionists say the the human-skin lampshade story is a fabrication.
Who is correct? Whistler? Or the revisionists?
Saddam Hussein's army murdered newborn babies in hospitals after invading Kuwait. What's more the tyrant warehoused weapons of mass destruction. Somewhere.
Others claim the above was propaganda designed to move our emotions and justify American aggression "commenced at a time of our choosing."
Which tidbits of history is accurate? What do you believe? And why do you believe it?
Here's the answer.
Telephone. That's the boring game we were forced to play as kids to amuse teachers and, as a matter of fact, teach us a lesson.
A class of thirty children encircles the classroom. The first student whispers a sentence to the student to the left who, in turn, repeats the whisper to his/her neighbor. Eventually the sentence makes it around to the last student who announces what he/she heard. Typically the sentence is distorted or even totally different from the actual original sentence.
So it is with history.
We are the 30th of 30 children hearing history after it has been filtered through many ears and, ofttimes, many years. It's distorted by confirmation bias along the way.
Often the original teller of history gets it wrong. How do we know? Spend one hour listening to CNN telling history in real time. Spend the next hour listening to Fox News telling the same story in real time. You hear two similar tales with different spins accommodating the confirmation biases of both venues. They can't both be correct.
Have you ever been the victim of gossip? The original tales are seldom flattering. After going viral, your persona is warped in the minds of many. Your reputation becomes the "real you" in the minds of believers.Your personal history is inaccurate, but believed to be true.
Example? Sure. A friend once scammed me out of thousands of dollars. He then set out to gaslight me by spreading false rumors. Surprisingly, many believed him and the telephone game went viral. Only it was not game.
Here's another. A neighbor once accused me of being a racist. I often write about black-on-white crime and sometimes cite statistics regarding the relationship between race and intelligence. Both violate the current milieu of acceptable beliefs. Hence, the "racist" label. In reality I'm the most anti-racist person I know; I just add one more race: white people.
Research published by Charles Murray concludes that 97 percent of advancements in arts and sciences emerged in Western nations. Acknowledging that reality will earn you the "white supremacist" tag.
And so we abandon reality to avoid the stigma.
Still, it remains that truth is true regardless of our beliefs. What happened is what happened, regardless of our perceptions.
Or, in short, "Was was." See Kenn's Law #290
Believing the earth is round or flat has no bearing it its roundness or flatness. It is what it is regardless of what we believe.
Or, in short, "Is is." See Kenn's Law #7
The same holds true of history.
Countless men have been imprisoned because a judge and jury believed the history of a crime as presented by the prosecution. A few fortunate souls were released after history was revised by forensic evidence. Revisionist history is sometimes accurate.
"Faith comes by hearing," the Bible says. And that prompts the question, "Why do we believe what we hear?"
The answers are manifold. Sometimes we cling to accounts of history because we are expected to. Sometimes we believe because we have no alternative story. Sometimes we believe because social stigma is attached to non-believers.
The only truth we can know is that we can never know the truth. And, yes, that's a logical contradiction. But you get the point.
How do we know that truth is true?
Consider there are 7,662,477,915 humans alive at this very moment of whom no two agree on everything all the time. At the very most only one of us can be totally accurate. The other 7,662,477,914 necessarily must be wrong at least in part. For anyone to correct all the time a statistical impossibility. We are all wrong, at least in part. Everyone is a tad bid delusional.
There is spectrum with delusional psychotics on the far left and skeptics on the far right. Between the end poles lies the rest of us. Again, we are all wrong, at least in part. Everyone is a tad bid delusional.
Most will admit, "I could be wrong on some minor detail." Few will cite the details in question.
Consider there are an estimated 100,000 religions with varying degrees of disagreement. 99,999 necessarily must be incorrect at least in part. Only one can be correct. Which religion is correct? My religion, of course, is the accurate one.
There are an estimated 30,000 Christian denominations of which 29,999 must be incorrect at least in part. Again, my traditional faith (Independent Fundamentalist Baptist) nails it. All other denominations are apostate to some degree.
There seems to be a universal tendency to assume our beliefs are equivalent to truth. Our beliefs are then framed in the analogy of light or sight. "I once was blind, but now I see." Those with whom we disagree are "in the darkness" and "blind" to the truth.
William Tyndale was executed in 1535 during the reign of King Henry VIII of England. Apparently the king believed Tyndale's beliefs were "darkness" while the king's own beliefs were "light." Tyndale's last words before being strangled to death then burned were, "Lord! Open the King of England's eyes."
It's akin to arguing over the color of the Easter Bunny. Is he pink or brown? If you believe he is pink while I'm convinced he is brown, you are a heretic and worthy of death by hanging. How absurd.
About 162 years after the execution of Tyndale a 20-year-old named Thomas Aikenhead was hanged to death in Scotland because he believed there was no God.
Punishing those who commit crimes such as rape, robbery, and murder seems rational. Executing those who disagree with us seems over-the-top stupid. Even today groups such as Antifa and Muslims resort to violence to punish those with whom they disagree.
Why do we hate those who disagree with us? What prompts us to vent our frustrations with violence? What component of the human brain compels us to burn a human at the stake because we believe in the Trinity and he doesn't? Why do leftists smack people who wear MAGA caps?
I don't know. I wish to God (if there were one) that religionists would restrain their rage when we disagree. Such is human nature.
I remain convinced that the knowledge of reality is a worthy pursuit and to that end I offer this Kennism:
I don't want to believe what is believed to be true. I want to know what is known to be true. — Kennism #287
Had I been born and raised in India rather than Indiana, I may have been a Buddhist instead of a Baptist. Until I know what is known to be true I remain an eternal skeptic.
Back to Simon Whistler.
Ilse Koch was known as the "Bitch of Buchenwald," the wife of the Nazi-era death camp commander Karl-Otto Koch. She ordered the murder of tattooed Jews to make lampshades from their skins. Some historians debunk the story and Ilse, herself, claimed from her prison cell that the stories of her misbehavior were not true.
Ilse's son, Uwe Kohler, believed his mother.
Who do you believe? Simon Whistler? Or Uwe Kohler?
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