More garbage disposal

Roberto Muehlenkamp’s reply to my annihilation of his claims, together with his updates to his earlier replies, rarely reach the minimum level to justify further response, but a couple points which deserve addressing are treated below.

On Ausrottung

Muehlenkamp claims that the term Ausrottung applied to a group of people can only mean killing them; I claim that this is not true. In an update on this topic, aside from further caterwauling about a book which he has not read and which does not (on actually reading it) support his thesis, Muehlenkamp’s main offering concerns my statement that the forcible expulsion of a group of people can be described as an Ausrottung. Muehlenkamp objects, saying that “No, Mr. Jansson, a group of people that is forcibly expelled from a territory has been vertrieben, not ausgerottet. Your German needs some improvement, to put it politely.”

Naturally vertrieben could be used to describe an expulsion as well, but this in no way contradicts my statement. More than one word can be used in a given context. This should be obvious. To say that they had been “ausgerottet” would be to emphasize the termination of the group’s presence in the given territory, rather than the specifics of their deportation. This does not change the fact that Ausrottung can be used in this way.

To give an English-language analogue, the title of the chapter on the Indian wars in the well-known book “The American Way of War” is “Annihilation of a People”. Should I perhaps inform the author that he has misused the word “annihilation” because what happened was an “expulsion”, and that his “English needs some improvement, to put it politely”? Of course not. The word “annihilation” can be used here without problem. So too can “Ausrottung” with reference to forcible expulsion. The choice of words depends on what you want to emphasize.

Really, it’s absurd that this matter is even being discussed. The non-homicidal use of “ausrotten” even occurs in the Luther Bible. This usage is too well documented to be ignored. Muehlenkamp’s claim that Ausrottung (applied to a group of people) can only mean killing is simply unjustifiable.

On Leningrad Birth Weights

Regarding my post on Leningrad birth weights, Muehlenkamp argues that the study does not prove that 3rd percentage female CDC weights for children are lower than the mean Warsaw ghetto weights for children, because of his data-free speculations. Here he shifts his ground: his previous argument was that 3rd percentile weights were too high because infants can be healthy at that weight, suggesting that the mean for a starved population would have to be lower. (Again, Muehlenkamp makes the fundamental error of supposing that values of some statistic established in order to diagnose outlying or problematic members of one population can be used to give the mean value of that same statistic for an outlying or problematic population.) The reference to the Leningrad study was designed to refute this argument, and did so.

Naturally that study does not singlehandedly establish what Warsaw ghetto weights were, and naturally extrapolation to higher ages is problematic (although Muehlenkamp has never hesitated to make wild extrapolations when it suited his case). My conclusion was simply that the study refuted Muehlenkamp’s position in this case – which is entirely correct. The Leningrad study also forms part of a pattern: everywhere where there is data (see for instance the numerous BMI studies which I linked earlier), Muehlenkamp’s weight suppositions are dramatically contradicted, requiring him to construct ad hoc excuses. All Muehlenkamp has to offer in response is a retreat into the darkness where there is no data, where he can let his imagination run wild with speculations advantageous to his case. Every time that hard data is available, Muehlenkamp’s position is refuted, and he has no data whatsoever to support his position.

Regarding his lack of any data to support his position on weights, Muehlenkamp states:

As to Jansson’s closing remark that my assumptions on weights of Jewish children and adults in 1942 Poland “rest on no weight-data whatsoever”, my comment is that I consider […] Baron Otmar von Verschuer’s 1938 article, the aforementioned Jewish encyclopedia article, the “Gewichtstabelle nach BMI and evidence to the severe malnutrition/starvation of Polish ghetto Jews in 1942 – to form a pretty good database in support of my assumptions

Verschuer’s article and the Jewish encyclopedia article concern (19th century) height data, not weight data, so they are besides the point when considering my statement that Muehlenkamp’s claims about weight rest on no weight-data. As for the figures on the website “Gewichtstabelle nach BMI”, this is not data that can be used to give any population’s average BMI. It is a chart designed to diagnose problematic members of a population. This cannot be used to establish any population’s mean BMI. Muehlenkamp cannot find even a single example in the scholarly literature on bodily weight in which the standard (or non-standard, as in Muehlenkamp’s “Gewichtstabelle nach BMI”) BMI ranges were used to derive an estimate for a population’s average BMI. No-one works that way, because that’s not what this kind of a table is for.

——

Muehlenkamp also argues that the weight loss after birth in Leningrad proves… something:

The weight at birth was not necessarily a predictor of continuing weight development even among the children born at term that didn’t die in the LSPI, a fact that Jansson also conveniently omits. In fact their weight dropped after birth, as shown in Table IV from Antonov’s article:
[…]
Not being a doctor, I don’t know what the implications of a child having “no established tendency toward further gain in weight” upon release were, but my guess is that such child was expected to either become severely underweight or die after release from the clinic.

Muehlankamp is indeed not a doctor, but more to the point he is also unable to perform a simple web search. In about 15 seconds he could have found out that weight loss after birth – in considerably larger quantities in quantities up to somewhat higher than observed in Leningrad – is completely normal and does not depend on starvation conditions. Thus, Muehlenkamp’s attempt to establish low weights among children on the grounds of post-birth weight loss fails completely. Honestly: what is the point of my continuing to respond to a guy so stupid that he posts a blog on a subject on which he couldn’t be bothered to type a few words into google and hit “Enter”?

——

In spite of the fact that I specifically referred to the “improved food supply, at least among the pregnant population” during the second half of 1942, Muehlenkamp claims that I have dishonestly omitted this information, and goes on at some length about my alleged deceptiveness. Evidently he is unable to extract information from a text unless it is patched in in a stringy block-quote. This may be the explanation for his inability to make a concise and coherent argument, and his penchant for long, disconnected, and ineffectual rants. In short, this is not evidence to my dishonesty in the presentation of the source, but testament (again!) to Muehlenkamp’s poor reading comprehension. I can only repeat my frank advice:

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.

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One Response to More garbage disposal

  1. Pingback: Muehlenkamp on the run | Holocaust History Channel

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