History Denial

After making a video about the dishonest Hunting Hitler program, from the so-called History Channel, and another about how the show tried to pass off a photo of Moe Howard as if it was Adolf Hitler in Argentina, and a third about the questionable beliefs and motivations of the show’s frontman, Bob Baer, I wasn’t planning on revising the subject. But I continue to hear from people who refuse to accept Hitler’s suicide, and their number one point of “proof” is the fact that Hitler’s alleged skull was from a woman, which means (or so they believe) that there is no physical evidence of his death.

I tried to counter this by laying out some of the actual facts in the description sections for two of my videos, but this was largely ignored. So I made a fourth video that directly deals with the female skull issue and how it has been used to ignore the overwhelming evidence of Hitler’s death by his own hand.

I believe this issue is very important, because if we are willing to let people lie about what Hitler did to himself, then it is not much of a stretch to accept them lying about what he did to others (e.g. The War and the Holocaust). I also believe this issue can help people understand how history denial, in general, operates. As I say in the video, it doesn’t matter if someone is denying the fact that Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9-11, the fact that President Obama was born in Hawaiian, or the fact that President Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, these are all acts of history denial, and no better or more logical than denying the Holocaust. There are no reasonable conspiracy theories and this can be seen by comparing the mentality and methods of those who advocate them.

I do not not have the time to make an exhaustive list, but the following are some common similarities that I have found in my ongoing arguments with conspiracists/deniers of various stripes. Markers of Historical Denial:

  1. Mentality
    • An inflated sense of ego and/or an unrealistic belief in their own powers of perception and reason. Much like the comical characters who try out for shows like American Idol, despite the fact that they have no since of pitch or ability to sing, history deniers think they are far more talented and knowledgable than they actually are. And often times, they will behave like the worst Idol Contestants, insisting that the experts are idiots, jealous, liars, or somehow against them.
    • The term, “Official Story,” is perhaps the most vulgar expression in a history denier’s vocabulary. Anything that comes from government employees, mainstream journalists, or academically trained historians and scientists, is not only suspect, but presumed to be wrong, if not deliberately false. Unless one of these sources happens to produce anything anomalous, like a piece of eye witness testimony different from the majority, which helps promote the denier’s beliefs. Any deviation from the conclusions of the official story is assumed to be extremely credible and important.
  2. Methods
    • Deniers love to say things like, “Do your own research,” and, “Come to your own conclusions.” This may sound good, shouldn’t we all think for ourselves? But when it comes to the questions they are seeking to answer, this tends to be an evasion from thought, rather than a promotion of good reasoning. Should I, “come to my own conclusions,” about if I have cancer or not, and how best to treat it, based solely on the websites I choose to visit, or the herbal remedy advice some stock boy at Whole Foods gave me? Should I deny that experts are experts, and pretend like my own wild guesses are better, simply because I came to them myself?
    • As I have argued before, deniers refuse to see the case through the evidence. They give the most weight to the things that help them reach the conclusions they want to reach and fixate on those points endlessly. Even when you disprove or explain how and why they are wrong about a particular allegation, they simply move on to the next lie, misconception, or distorted fact on their list. No matter how many claims you refute, the diehard believer will not see this as a problem. They will not stop and ask themselves, “Why am I wrong on so many points?” And they will not conclude that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the conclusions they have already accepted, base on those disproven points. They will simply find, or create, new ways to prop up their conclusions.

Obviously, there is a good deal of overlap between these markers, and someday I hope to come up with a more fleshed out list, but hopefully you get the idea. Deniers want to see themselves as some kind of Einstein, radically altering what the stupid masses think they know about the world and not being appreciated for it. But they’re no Einsteins. They are not building upon well-established knowledge and proposing logical explanations for the as-yet unknown, or misunderstood parts of reality, they are attacking the establishment for being established, by any means at their disposal, and denying reality. As much as they demand, “The Truth!” they are not, in temperament or actions, genuinely seeking it.

Which brings me to a recent exchange I had over email. A man, identifying himself as Eric Blair, has been demanding that I answer all of his questions about President Kennedy’s assassination, to his satisfaction, or admit that I am a, “joke,” and a, “liar,” who doesn’t, “know the facts of the case.” Mr. Blair began by asking me about two photos from the shooting of Lee Oswald, which look, “staged,” in his opinion.

Photo taken by Jack Beers, just before Oswald was shot by Ruby.
Looking down at Oswald from his front left.
The more famous photo of Oswald at the moment the bullet enters his body.
Taken by Bob Jackson, almost directly in front of Oswald and just below his sightline.

Mr. Blair’s specific question was: “Could you tell me why there is no overhead microphone visible in Jackson photo while a an overhead mic is clearly shown in the Beers photo which was taken a 0.6 of a second earlier?” How he is certain of the timing between these these photos I do not know, but I noticed that the man at the far right of the Jackson photo, with a cigaret in his mouth, is holding the cigaret down in front of himself in the Beers photo. Regardless of how much time actually elapsed between these photos, if someone had the time to raise a cigaret to his mouth, someone else also had the time to raise, lower, or otherwise move the microphone, which was presumably on some kind of a pole or rod, and not affixed to the ceiling of the garage. Furthermore, the mic could be hidden behind the silhouette of the man at the right foreground of the Jackson photo, or otherwise obscured due to the difference in the angles. There are, after all, several differences between these two shots, like the ceiling support beam in the Jackson photo and the hallway door to the back of Oswald’s right in the Beers photo. But Mr. Blair doesn’t see it that way. According to him, “There is no overhead mic in the Jackson photo looking at the wall to the right. It’s the same area as the Beers photo. How can this be the same event when one photo has a mic and the other doesn’t?”

Think about the implications of what this would mean. If these were not the same event, did “they” stage the shooting of Oswald more than once? If so, everyone in those photos and the photographers and reports outside our frame of view would need to be in on the conspiracy. And which staged version of Oswald’s shooting is the one that went out live to a national audience? And why would anyone bother to stage or otherwise fake this event in the first place, or hope to get away with it?

Mr. Blair didn’t seem to have any answers to the logistics or the logical implications of what he was postulating, but he did copy and past the text of an article for me that claims Bob Jackson never saw any blood on Oswald, or at the scene of the crime, once Oswald was taken away. According to the article:

Jackson's testimony, never before released in the American media, backs up other researchers who claim Oswald and Ruby faked the shooting as a part of an undercover operation designed to eventually eliminate Oswald's knowledge of the real JKF assassination team as well as his part played as the government's patsy.

"Oswald probably was told to fake the shooting and then was double crossed by Cia operatives who killed him in the ambulance in order to eliminate any loose ends in the Kennedy assassination," said one researcher who claims Oswald was used as a patsy.

There are many points I could go into here, like the fact that the bullet bounced around inside Oswald’s guts and did not exit his body, he was wearing a dark sweeter, and at least one other shirt under that, and he was rushed out of that area amid mass confusion and panic. All of this could easily contribute to Mr. Jackson not seeing any blood, or not remembering it. Even more importantly, however, is the fact that this claim by Mr. Blair does not match up with his earlier claim. Under this scenario, there was only one (presumably fake) shooting, which took place in front of Jackson, Beers, and all the other journalists, and that would mean that the two photos he previously cited were not “staged” and not suspicious. Only Oswald and Ruby, according to this story, were in on the act, and all the journalists were taken in by it, but their photos were real. So, which is it? Where the photos “staged,” (i.e. shot at two different times) or was there no bullet in Ruby’s gun? Like many conspiracy advocates, Mr. Blair doesn’t seem to care what case he makes, or how inconsistent his claims become, so long has he can raise some doubt and pretend there are major/important inconsistencies in the, “official story,” why bother being logical?

Let us also consider the theory put forward by an unnamed “researcher” in the article Mr. Blair sent me. “Oswald probably was told to fake the shooting and then was double crossed by Cia (sic) operatives who killed him in the ambulance in order to eliminate any loose ends in the Kennedy assassination.” Why not let Ruby shoot Oswald in the first place? That way, no matter if it was a fatal shot or not, at least there would be a shot, with a likelihood of blood (though everyone may not have seen it or remember it), and the CIA Operatives could still kill Oswald in the ambulance to finish the job. Why risk someone jumping in front of Oswald and not getting shot when the gun went off, thus exposing the conspiracy? And how are you, “eliminat[ing] any loose ends,” by getting more people involved in the conspiracy? Now you have the operatives in the ambulance and Ruby, along with their handler(s), who might talk in the decades yet to come. Plus you risk people at the hospital or in the police force or local media noticing the fact that these ambulance personal were not Dallas locals. Again, it’s not just logical.

But this is the “logic” of history denial and conspiracy nonsense in general. You need to keep making the story evermore complicated and ridiculous, to make it fit with your imagination. Then you can tell yourself, as Mr. Blair puts it, “the official version,” is full of, “absurdities and massive inconsistencies.” You make up phony problems and inflate details out of proportion; you create hypothetical scenarios that don’t match up with one another, or have any semblance of credibility; all so you can say how laughable the, “official version” is. Never mind that it’s not the official version you are laughing at, not in any meaningful way, it is only your misrepresentations of the official version that provide the humor (see my discussion on the infamous “magic bullet” for another example of this sloppy reasoning).

One last note on that article that Mr. Blair sent me. It was written by a self-professed independent researcher named Greg Szymanski. I took a minute to Google Mr. Szymanski and found a piece from 2006 where he claimed that (present day Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh, along with his boss in the late 90’s, Independent Counsel Ken Starr and other higher-ups, “have lied through their teeth,” to hide the truth about the “murder” of Vince Foster (a friend of the Clintons who actually committed suicide). Naturally, the mainstream media was also complicit in this alleged crime, as Mr. Szymanski see it, since they haven’t covered it and didn’t even bother to mention it when Kavanaugh was up before the Senate Judiciary Committee to serve on the high court. I am not surprised that this is the kind of source that Mr. Blair seeks out and believes in? Sadly, I have seen this same behavior too many times. Conspiracy theorists will keep looking until they find someone who will say what they want to hear, and then they will pretend that is a good source.

As a rule, I try to answer most questions about alleged conspiracies, particularly the assassination of President Kennedy, or point people to reasonable source material, because I know that it can be confusing to wade through all the lies and hype out there. But when people make it clear to me that they are a true believe and will not settle for anything less than absolute devotion to the conspiracy cause, I refuse to play their game. I will not, and physically cannot, spend my life explaining their delusions to them. As I told Mr. Blair, I have written many relevant things on the subject and created several videos, including a feature documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015). If he cares about the truth, I have said plenty on the matter and he should take the time to consider this material. I hope someday he will. But if he refuses to be reasonable and twists everything into more “proof” of a conspiracy, I will not keep banging my head against a wall of willful ignorance. As you can imagine, he didn’t take this well. He called me names and insulted me, while going on to ask me about a half dozen more questions, which I refused to address. Finally, I thought he had given up, but after a few days he send me a new email.

This time, Mr. Blair cited a passage from an article I wrote for Skeptic Magazine, in which I said: “It should also be noted that Oswald lied, over and over again, while in custody. He claimed he never owned any guns, even though he was arrested with one on him. He claimed the backyard photos of him holding his weapons, taken by his wife at his request, were faked by the police or someone else. He claimed he took no package into work the morning of the assassination, despite the fact that the guy who drove Oswald to work that day said Oswald had a package which he claimed contained “curtain rods” (about the size of a disassembled rifle). No matter how obvious the lie, Oswald would still try to get away with it and then just laugh when the police caught him telling another. All of the authorities who interrogated Oswald agreed that he was the most unusual suspect they had ever seen. He almost seemed to be enjoying all the attention, rather than being worried or upset, and he may have wished to prolong being the center of attention. After all, the longer he held his cards close to his vest, the more everyone longed to see them.” [Bold efficient added by Mr. Blair.] Ignoring the substance of what I had to say (i.e. Oswald’s behavior was very odd and he had a propensity to tell lies) Mr. Blair responded to the part he chose to fixate on:

This is pathetic lie on your part. 

As described by Buell W. Frazier and his sister, Linnie Mae Randle, the length of the package was 27 to 28 inches, which would have been too short to hold the largest component (the wooden stock was 34.8 inches) of a disassembled MC (WCR, pg 126).

Accordingly, the package was not the size of a disassembled rifle as you claim.

It was short by about 7 inches.

You have zero credibility.

In the hopes that this may further aid those who are tempted to believe in wild tales of conspiracy and other acts of history denial, I decided to reply to this accusation publicly.

To begin with, let me step back to the night before President Kennedy was shot, to give some context to the question at hand. Oswald was separated from his wife, because he was an abusive husband and she couldn’t take it anymore. His wife, Marina, and their children, where living with a woman named Ruth Paine. Sometimes Lee would come visit them on the weekends, but he had never come on a weeknight and had not come for ten day prior to this Thursday night, when he showed up unexpectedly. Marina was not happy about this, but since Lee did not drive and had to get a ride from one of his coworkers back to work in the morning, she let him spend the night. He tried to talk her into coming back to him, but she did not believe he had changed or that things would be any better. In the morning, he left his wedding ring and most of his cash in her bedroom (which she found later). Neither Marina nor Ruth saw Lee leave the house and go to the garage, but that is where his rifle and some of his other belonging were stored. Later that day, when the police looked for the rifle in the garage, it was gone.

Lee was seen by Mrs. Randle that morning, walking with a, “heavy brown bag.” According to her recollection, Lee gripped the bag in his right hand near the top, and it was, “more bulky toward the bottom.” She estimated it to be approximately 28 inches long and about 8 inches wide. She saw Lee open her brother’s car door and place the bag inside (her brother, Mr. Frazier was the coworker who drove Lee to and from work, when Lee visited his family). Mrs. Randle later said that the color of the bag was similar to the bag found on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository after the assassination.

Mr. Frazier met Oswald at the kitchen door and they left for the car together. When Frazier asked what was in the bag, Oswald said, “Curtain rods.” Oswald had told Frazier the night before that he was coming out here on a Thursday to get curtain rods, so his story seemed consistent and Frazier didn’t question it any more. Frazier estimated that the bag was 2 feet long, “give and take a few inches,” and about 5 or 6 inches wide, when he glanced at it in the backseat. Later, when Frazier showed FBI Agents how long he thought the bag was, by marking a spot on his backseat, it came out to 27 inches. Frazier also noted in his testimony that, “When he rode with me, I say he always brought lunch except that one day on November 22 he didn’t bring his lunch that day,” and when Frazier asked Oswald where his lunch was, Oswald said he was going to buy lunch that day.

When they reached the parking lot, two blocks from the Depository, Oswald got out with his package and hurried on ahead of Frazier, who was paying more attention to the switching of the train cars he was passing by then to Oswald. This was the first time Oswald had ever left Frazier behind, by about 50 feet, and not walked into work with him.

After the shooting of President Kennedy, an empty bag was found on the sixth floor, where the sniper’s nest was. The bag was 88 inches long, but this was completely unfolded and doesn’t give any certainty as to how much shorter it was when folded up. Oswald’s rifle was also found on the sixth floor, but no curtain rods were found there.

When questioned by Dallas Police Captain Fritz, Oswald said that he never told Frazier anything about curtain rod and had no large bag with him that day. Oswald further claimed that he had a bag lunch with him, which he kept on his lap during the drive in to work, not in the backseat of Frazier’s car.

There is a lot of other evidence that I could go into, like the fact that several witnesses saw a man with a rifle at the location of the snipers nest, and at least one of them was later certain it was Oswald. Or the fact that prints matching Oswald were found on the rifle and the bag, but let’s just deal with the points I previously mentioned.

What does Oswald’s behavior suggest? Going to see his wife unannounced on a weeknight and begging her to take him back. Departing before she woke up and leaving his ring and most of his money behind. Walking with a large bag and not bringing a lunch. Walking away from Frazier once they got to work. Lying to the police about what he said to Frazier and what he did or did not bring to work. Even for an odd duck like Lee, there are several unprecedented acts of oddness here that suggest he was on a mission that day and didn’t care about lunch or expect to see his family again.

So, what is the most reasonable conclude to draw from all this? If you were a government investigator, a professional journalist, or an academically trained historian, trying to be thoughtful and objective, rather than a true believer, fixating on conspiracy and nothing but conspiracy; what would you conclude about the testimony of Frazier and Randle? Here is what the Warren Commission concluded in Chapter 4 of the final report:

The Commission has weighed the visual recollection of Frazier and Mrs. Randle against the evidence here presented that the bag Oswald carried contained the assassination weapon and has concluded that Frazier and Randle are mistaken as to the length of the bag. Mrs. Randle saw the bag fleetingly and her first remembrance is that it was held in Oswald's right hand "and it almost touched the ground as he carried it." Frazier's view of the bag was from the rear. He continually advised that he was not paying close attention.

Given the fact that Frazier and Randle disagreed about the width of the package, and that Frazier started out at 2 feet before moving up to 27 inches, while Randle spoke of the bag, “almost touching the ground,” where as Frazier later said he thought one end fit under Oswald’s armpit while cupping it in his hand; it is clear that these two did not have a 100% consistent recollection between them. Couple that with all the other facts, and the general unreliable of eye witnesses to get details perfectly correct, how could the Commission have come to any other conclusion?

But let us imagine that Frazier and Randle’s glances at the package are correct and the bag was not large enough to fit the dissembled rifle. That would mean that Lee was overcome with a sudden need for curtain rods the night before President Kennedy’s visit and had to show up unannounced to where his wife was staying, and the alleged curtain rods were kept. Yet he said nothing to her about the rods and spent his time begging her to give him another chance. Then, in the morning, he thought, “What do I need a wedding ring and money for, so long as I have curtain rods?” and ran out before his wife awoke. Wrapping the rods in a makeshift paper bag that was bulkier at one end than the other (the way a rifle would be) he left for work. Upon arriving to work, he ran ahead of his coworker and headed for the sixth floor. Hours later, once he was arrested, he then chose to lie about his curtain rod and his lunch, neither of which were ever found, and he could not explain how his rifle magically appeared on the sixth floor. Does any of that seem plausible to you? Unfortunately, if you are a diehard conspiracy theorist, it probably does.

Okay, now that I’ve laid the groundwork, I’ll return to Mr. Blair’s claim that I told a, “pathetic lie,” and have, “zero credibility.” First, what was the lie? As Mr. Blair quoted me, “[Oswald] claimed he took no package into work the morning of the assassination, despite the fact that the guy who drove Oswald to work that day said Oswald had a package which he claimed contained “curtain rods” (about the size of a disassembled rifle).” Oswald did tell the police he had no package, whereas he told Frazier that his package was curtain rods. This is true, and it helps prove the point I was making about Oswald’s odd behavior and untrustworthy nature. But Mr. Blair is fixed on the fact that I said the package was, “about the size of a disassembled rifle.” Most reasonable people would likely agree that “about” is relative term and given the fact that the unfolded package was more than adequate to encompass the disassembled rifle, I do not believe that anyone other than a conspiracy true believer would think this a, “pathetic lie,” or suggest that I have, “zero credibility,” for daring to make this point. This, however, is the frenzied state in which people like Mr. Blair operate. They need to vilify me, so they can feel like heroes.

Mr. Blair might as well be telling me how the Holocaust was faked, or why the Earth is flat. He manner and methods of “proof” are no better than those people, because they all have the same denial mentality, in which experts are only here to lie to us and only people on the fanatical fringe know what is “really” going on. If you are thinking about following their example, I hope I have given you reason to pause and reconsider your position. As I said in the video above, “There is nothing wrong with asking questions about the past, but denying history isn’t going to give you any answers worth listening to.”

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