Pearls before swine: explaining the obvious to an idiot

As the saying goes, you should never argue with an idiot. He’ll drag you down to his level and win by experience. Familiarity with this maxim, and with Roberto Muehkenkamp’s penchant for frenzied yet futile attempts at fisking, led me to comment in my post Taking out the garbage that I would not be wasting time with point-by-point rebuttals. (In his latest post, Muehlenkamp takes that comment to be a statement that I would not be criticizing his arguments at all, and suggests that I have backtracked by doing so. This of course merely shows how poor the man’s reading comprehension is.) In keeping with this intention, I will simply let pass a number of Muehlenkamp’s idiocies, in particular those where he insists I should explicate further something that was already perfectly evident to any literate person. I will, however, continuing in the vein of my above-linked post, continue to point out some of the choice idiocies which Muehlenkamp has offered in his attempts to refute my posts.

I will, however, defer my further comments regarding my post Muehlenkamp’s Ettling imposture until later, as this post is already long enough, and in connection with that post I would like not only to point out Muehlenkamp’s erroneous arguments but also to bring in some additional data.

1. Regarding my post Muehlenkamp’s body-mass delusion: a case of BMI abuse

Muehlenkamp misreads, gets upset

Reading comprehension has yet again proved to be Muehlenkamp’s weak point. (Not that he has any strong points.) In my previous post, I pointed out that the weights which Muehlenkamp assigns to adult Polish jews rest on no data whatsoever. He has misread this passage, and assumed that I meant to say that he invented the BMI range of 15-18.8. He proceeds to assume that, because I commented on his failure in the HC-manifesto to give the URL of his online source, that I must have been unable to locate it, and then goes on about how I’ve made a fool of myself.

Had Muehlenkamp read a little more carefully, he would have noticed that nowhere did I state that I could not locate his source. In fact, I explicitly stated that it was a web site, which is not specified in the manifesto, and I explicitly explained that Muehlenkamp took the BMI range of 15-18.8 from this website. These numbers are not given in the manifesto. How could I have obtained them without locating his source? They are certainly not standard in the literature. Therefore it was entirely obvious from what I wrote that I had found his source, and furthermore that when I stated that his numbers were pure inventions unsupported by data, I was referring to the numbers which he invents for weights. The statement that these are unsupported by any data is entirely correct.

Muehlenkamp imagines that he should receive a “humble apology” for my statement. Instead, he will get a frank assessment of his abilities. Here it is: Roberto, you’re an illiterate moron. However, you can avoid at least some of your errors, and the attendant humiliation which you have caused yourself, if you stop and take the time to re-read before rattling off an attempt at a reply.

What is the meaning of “14 and under”?

Muehlenkamp argues that my discussion of children’s weights is not based on a comparable age range to his. Specifically, he interprets “aged 14 or under” to mean “younger than 14”, whereas I, as is conventional in English, interpreted it to mean “younger than 15”.

Before addressing this argument, I will make a slight improvement to my previous analysis. In my previous post I used 3rd percentile female data from here for age > 2, but for age 0-2 was forced to rely on an extrapolation not based directly 3rd percentile data. I had overlooked that there is comparable data for the first two years of life here. Plugging in this data and redoing my analysis from before, one obtains an average of 20.16 kg, slightly up from the figure of 20.15 kg which I obtained previously.

If Muehlenkamp were correct that the data should be analysed only for children under the age of 14, then this figure would drop to 18.88 kg, still far higher than his 16 (or 15.6) kg. But is he correct?

Let’s look at the sources. I interpreted “aged 14 or under” as including 14 year olds, because that’s what it always means in English, without imagining that there would be any controversy over the issue. Muehlenkamp, on the other hand, knew that exactly this point was contested, but he chose to simply affirm that 14 year olds are not included among children “aged 14 or under” without troubling to check the sources given. The figure comes from one of Carlo Mattogno’s writings. Mattogno cites Poliakov’s Das dritte Reich und die Juden. Checking this source reveals that the figure comes from a German translation of the 1946 pamphlet Bilan de l’extermination by Jacob Lestschinsky (Poliakov gives the name as Jakob Leszczynski). The German translation gives the term as “Kinder bis zu 14 Jahren”. Checking the French pamphlet shows that it speaks of “enfants jusqu’à 14 ans”. However, the French pamphlet reveals that it in turn is a translation from an English original titled “Balance sheet of extermination”. In that original one has the text “children up to 14 years.”

Thus, we are back to an English text that, given the standard use of the English language, includes 14 year olds. However, we can look into the matter more closely by identifying the ultimate source of the data. Although this source is not identified by Lestschinsky, it is clear that it is the 1931 Polish census. In that census, there were separate groupings for age ranges 10-14 and 15-19. The groups are divided by birth year, with the 14-year-old age cohort being those born in 1917, i.e. those who turned 14 in the year 1931, and it’s easy to see from the data given (using tables 10 and 13) that 29.6% is what that census indicated for the percentage of the Jewish population of age 14 and under, i.e. born in 1917 or later.

Thus Muehlenkamp is wrong: 14 year olds were included in the population being discussed. However, the census data also reveals that my assumption that all 14 year olds would be included is also incorrect. Table 13 clarifies that data collection for births did not go until the end of the year, but stopped after December 8th, 1931. (My previous analysis corresponds to data collection for births continuing through December 31, whereas Muehlenkamp’s assumption corresponds to data collection for births stopping at the end of the previous year.) Thus, a slight correction is necessary. If we make a slight underestimate by assuming that births were recorded until November 30 rather than December 8, we can just leave the last month out of my analysis. The figure 20.16 kg then drops to 20.05 kg. Factoring in the first 8 days of December would bring it back up a bit, to between 20.07 and 20.08 kg.

Thus, although my analysis required a slight correction after looking more closely at the sources of data, it was essentially correct. A population covering the ages in question in our data for Polish Jewish children in 1931, uniformly distributed in age, with weights set to the 3rd percentile female values of the CDC data, will indeed have an average weight of slightly over 20 kg.

Muehlenkamp, in turn, was entirely wrong in claiming that the group under consideration does not include 14 year olds. He should acknowledge his error publicly and prominently.

On Otmar von Verschuer and one of his articles in Forschungen zur Judenfrage

First off, the man’s name is Otmar, not Otto. Muehlenkamp gets it wrong again.

More to the point: in his tedious fisking of what I stated, Muehlenkamp is careful to maneuver around the point that Verschuer was not a specialist in this topic, which he merely mentioned in passing. The point is simply that Muehlenkamp does not cite the kind of sources one would need to if one were genuinely investigating questions concerning average height. A remark in passing in a survey article written by a man who specialized in a different subject is not the kind of source on which one should build a case. Furthermore – and Muehlenkamp again tries to obscure this point – Verschuer does not make a comparison of the height of Polish Jews with the height of Germans, but rather the height of Jews in general with the height of Germans.

Muehlenkamp even tries to use my remark that Verschuer’s data for Germans was relatively recent if one can go by publication dates as proof that it was indeed valid contemporary data, while disregarding my caution that one would need to check the original source. Verscheuer indicates that his source is a periodical that only began publication in 1929, if I recall correctly, but one would need to check the publication to see whether it contained the original studies or merely references to the earlier data. Muehlenkamp, who appears to suffer from a paralysing fear of libraries (ergo his refusal to look up sources), fails to notice this difficulty. (This same failure recurs in the next section, on an even more primitive level.)

When were those studies done again?

Speaking of average heights, Muehlenkamp refers to the height data given in the 1906 Jewish encyclopedia, and writes that “this was in 1906, for sure, and the stature of the population may have increased between 1906 and 1942. It is unlikely, however, that there was much increase”. Actually, this was not 1906. The studies Muehlenkamp draws from the Jewish encyclopedia were published considerably earlier. He specifically mentions the study by Majer and Kopernicki, whose publication date is 1877-85. For the height of Jewesses he refers to a study by Elkind (whose initials were actually A.D., not N.D. as the Jewish encyclopedia has). Elkind’s book-length work was published in 1903 – but when was the data collected? In his preface he mentions collecting data among Polish Jews in 1895 and 1896. Thus, even this most recent of sources dates to a full decade before the date which Muehlenkamp imagines. Nor are Elkind’s data beyond critique. One might point to the fact that 86 out of Elkind’s 125 subjects were between the ages of 15 and 20, and ask whether they had attained their full height (particularly in light of remarks that recruits had not done so).

As mentioned in the above section, the important question (with regard to a quantity known to have changed over time, such as average height) is not when a secondary or tertiary source cited certain data, but when that data was collected. As I stated in my initial post, I have not done the research necessary to take a position on the average height of the Polish Jews in the 1940s. What I am affirming here is simply that Muehlenkamp’s research is inadequate and his arguments fallacious. This conclusion is now more firmly established than ever.

Germany has moved to Scotland

Muehlenkamp claims that heights over several decades did not increase very much on the basis of the assumption that Germany is Scotland. (No joke. He actually makes this argument.) He calls this a “model”.

The only possible response is laughter.

Look, pictures!

As is his wont, Muehlenkamp spams a number of pictures in an attempt to argue that the average weight of the Polish Jews was very low. (You would think he would have learned a lesson from his fiasco with the electrocuted Jews used for soap.) This silliness can be dispensed of with some very simple points:

1. These are not a representative sample of the Jews who were sent to the Reinhardt camps. In fact, those who died in the ghetto were certainly not among those sent to the Reinhardt camps. Moreover, propaganda photos – for either side – are a very poor way of determining average realities.

2. As Muehlenkamp attempts to minimise the significance of his birth weight whoppers by claiming that regarding burial space, they’re only relevant to his discussion of Belzec, he is not entitled to relate the Warsaw ghetto to this matter at all, as the Jews there were not sent to Belzec. The Łodz ghetto is even less relevant.

One can just as easily provide pictures of Warsaw ghetto residents of quite ordinary weight:

Screenshot-27

Screenshot-28

Screenshot-30

Screenshot-31

What does all this prove regarding the average weight of the Polish Jews? Nothing, really. It’s just Muehlenkamp’s way of trying to distract from the fact that he’s been proved wrong.

Hypocrisy?

Muehlenkamp claims that my use of CDC weight data is hypocritical in light of my statement that height data quoted in a 1906 encyclopedia article was unusable. In fact, there is no hypocrisy. The meaning of the statement was that one could not use those data points to get correct values. To use percentile data in order to get not a calculated value but a suggested one-sided bound is an entirely different matter. Nor would I prohibit extrapolations from such data, but I would insist that the more-relevant sources be examined first (which Muehlenkamp never does), and add that calculations aiming at giving an accurate value are decidedly more problematic than loose estimates aiming at a bound on one side.

No math tutoring here

In my previous post, I pointed out that Muehlenkamp’s method for calculating average weight (as the weight of a person at average BMI and average height) is incorrect, and pointed out one of the reasons, namely the quadratic nature of BMI as a function of height. (While this is the only reason in the case of a population all of whose members have the same BMI, in the general case I might have added the fact that the non-uniformity of BMI contributes to the error of Muehlenkamp’s method. Namely, taller members of the population will tend to have higher BMI, both because they tend to be male and males tend to be heavier than females at given height, and because the exponent 2 underestimates the height scaling of weight.) Muehlenkamp complains that he is unable to understand. Too bad for him. If he can’t figure this out on his own when it’s pointed out for him he has no right to be working with numbers at all.

While we’re on the subject of mathematics, or rather statistics, I should also articulate the basic flaw in Muehlenkamp’s BMI reasoning. Muehlenkamp takes numbers for abnormal members of a population and assumes (as always, with no data to support his conclusion, and in contradiction to all available data on other cases, as I pointed out in my initial BMI post) that he can use them to represent the average member of an abnormal population. You can’t do that. That is not how any serious person works. Scales intended to diagnose abnormal, problematic members of a population are not designed to estimate the average value for an abnormal and problematic population. For that you need to use real data, if not for the population in question, then at least for as similar a population as possible.

2. Regarding my post US government official: ‘Ausrottung’ does not imply killing and its amplification here.

Muehlenkamp has updated his reply to this post with some real nonsense, most of which is too idiotic to deserve any reply. He quotes my clarification

Muehlenkamp adduces a list of uses of “Ausrottung” where he believes the word implies killing. This enumeration completely fails on the level of elementary logic. The issue in question is whether the word “Ausrottung” implies killing. Even if we supposed (wrongly) that killing is meant in all of Muehlenkamp’s examples, this would not demonstrate that “Ausrottung” implies killing.

Perhaps an analogy will help. Suppose we were dealing with the verb “to finish off”, someone had claimed that the verb “to finish off” does not imply killing, and I wished to refute this position. I could not do so by enumerating cases in which “to finish off” did mean “to kill”, because the issue in question was not whether “to finish off” can be used to mean “to kill” (which of course it can) but whether the use of “to finish off” implies killing, which it certainly does not. In terms of logical quantifiers, it is the difference between “there exists” and “for all”. Likewise with “Ausrottung”: the issue is not whether Ausrottung can be used in a homicidal context – of course it can. The issue is whether “Ausrottung” implies a homicidal context – which of course it does not.

and suggests that this is a case of shifting the goalposts. He suggests that I am pointing to the uses of Ausrottung of things other than people. This is incorrect on all counts. It was obvious from the context that one was considering references to people (all examples were of this nature) and not, for example, the Ausrottung of a religion. To make it absolutely clear: the Ausrottung of a group of people does not imply killing them. In fact, we can go further. Even the word “extermination”, a word much more strongly connected to killing than is Ausrottung, can be used of a group of people without meaning killing, particularly in heated rhetoric. Consider this example from a 1942 House of Commons debate:

Surely, the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that comprehensive reviews have been made by various chambers of trade throughout the country, and further, that these disclose that little men and little women engaged in trade with a small turnover before the war are being exterminated and eliminated daily; and will he really give the matter further consideration?

Evidently the extermination of these “little men and little women” does not mean killing. Indeed, as Thomas Dalton has pointed out, the derivation of “exterminate” is decidedly non-homicidal, and such use of the word can still be made. For example, one can say that in the course of human settlement, wolves were exterminated in a given territory without implying that they were all killed. It could be that they were driven off, deprived of habitat, migrated, etc. Thus, even the word “exterminate” does not imply killing – and Ausrottung is still farther from doing so.

The differences are vitally important. During the Indian wars, US leaders did not hesitate to use terms like “exterminate” or to order “a campaign of annihilation, obliteration and complete destruction”. Their policy, however, was based on goals like security for settlers, access to resources and living space, elimination of military threats, etc. – and not on a goal of “let’s kill all the Indians.” Certainly they did not hesitate to use tough tactics, to uproot populations in the winter, to make strategic use of food shortages, etc. Yet is would be fundamentally incorrect to claim that US policy was based on a plan of “kill all the Indians”. Certainly US policy was not overly friendly towards the Indians, and German policy was not overly friendly towards the Jews, but neither policy was based on a goal of killing all the members of the group in question (although both were willing to accept considerable numbers of deaths in order to attain other policy aims).

Muehlenkamp also links to a disgraceful article which defends the thesis that in the book Der Gelbe Fleck: Die Ausrottung von 500,000 deutschen Juden, the word Ausrottung means killing. The article’s author defends this thesis by citing a few passages from the book’s early pages in which violence is mentioned. In other words, there were individual cases in which Jews were killed, therefore the reference to the Ausrottung of 500,000 German Jews means killing. What nonsense. Contrary to the argument made in the article, an association between Ausrottung and acts of violence does not imply that Ausrottung is being used in a sense that implies killing. For example, a group of people that is forcibly expelled from a territory has been ausgerottet, even if the people are not killed. The fact that forcible expulsion is likely to include violence, including killing, does not mean that such an Ausrottung through expulsion is the same thing as killing that group of people.

As Muehlenkamp admits that he has not read the book, I see no reason to go into any more detail on this point. In any event, it is not difficult to find additional examples of uses of Ausrottung that do not mean killing.

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3 Responses to Pearls before swine: explaining the obvious to an idiot

  1. George McCluskey says:

    This so called Holocaust History Channel should be reported under the Trades Description Act. I see no history on here, just the ramblings of an obsessed crank who likes to dress up in SS uniform with zee big baggy pantaloons and das silly moustache, ja ?

    Give it up Freddy , you loon. You’re getting massacred and it’s all becoming rather embarrassing.

  2. Pingback: More garbage disposal | Holocaust History Channel

  3. Pingback: Muehlenkamp cornered, lies through his teeth | Holocaust History Channel

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