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Lying Under The Blanket of Academic Freedom

I was listening to Dr. Dean Edell’s radio show last night. How awesome is Dr. Dean? He is a fantastic radio show host and a great all-around skeptic, whose baloney detector seems to always be working, flawlessly.

Dr. Dean mentioned a recent news article in which Nicholas Kollerstrom Phd, a professor of astronomy conducting research at University College London (UCL), was dismissed from his position due to his recent Holocaust denial papers, including one titled ‘The Auschwitz ‘Gas Chamber’ Illusion’, and another one titled ‘The Walls of Auschwitz’. The first sentence of Kollerstrom’s bewildering “illusion” paper reads:

“This essay will argue that well-designed cyanide gas chambers were indeed present at Auschwitz, and did work efficiently, but that they were operated for purposes of hygiene and disinfection, in order to save lives and not take them.”

Kollerstrom has also written blogs promoting that the events of 9/11 was a conspiracy, a theme which often goes hand-in-hand with many Holocaust deniers. Kollerstrom’s defenders say that this is academic freedom under attack. We discuss these topics regularly on The SGU podcast, so this does not come as a total shock to us. Maybe Kollerstrom should apply for a job as Ben Stein’s personal science advisor. But I digress…

As I read up on Kollerstrom, and of the many scary things that he has to say about The Holocaust, 9/11, and Jewish people in general, it was this article on David Duke’s website that pushed my button. For a little background on David Duke, Phd, read his bio from his website. Then go ahead and read the rest of his history, nicely accumulated by the Anti-Defamation League. To sum him up in one sentence, Duke is my generation’s most known and best established neo-Nazi in The United States. Now that you know who Duke is, let’s dissect his treatise regarding Kollerstrom’s dismissal. The headline of his article reads:

“Respected Astronomer The Latest Holocaust® Victim”

Right off the bat, we have “Respected Astronomer” in describing Kollestrom. Respected by whom? Other astronomers? I can’t find one other astronomer defending Kollerstrom as a respected colleague. I doubt very much that Kollestrom, an astronomer who believes in crop circles and astrology, is at all respected by other REAL astronomers. The second point is that the word ‘Holocaust’ is followed by a trademark symbol, denoting by Duke that the Holocaust is supposedly manufactured, made-up, or produced. This is just David Duke being a total asshole.

First paragraph reads:

“Dr. Nicholas Kollerstrom, a respected astronomer and author, is the latest scientist to discover the limits of academic freedom in the Western world.”

I don’t think it is any surprise that “Doctor Duke” is taking up defense of Kollerstom. And by the way, that is the last time I’ll ever refer to Duke as “Doctor”. My only point here is to make it clear that this is a relatively educated person with a doctorate in “History” from “The MAUP University System of The Ukraine” – if I had the time to research THAT claim I would, but again, I digress …

“Until recently Dr. Kollerstrom was an honorary fellow of University College London. His views as a science historian were sought by scientific journals and media organizations, such as the BBC in its report on new research concerning the planet Neptune. Yet on 22nd April University College abruptly terminated his fellowship, without any consultation or right of appeal. Dr Kollerstrom’s offence was to have published sceptical views about scientific aspects of the Holocaust on the CODOH website, based in America. At no time had he promoted these views within University College, or done anything to bring the college into disrepute.”

Kollestrom was not an employee of UCL, and therefore, had no employee rights, such as appeals. UCL makes it quite clear in their statement:

“UCL has been made aware of views expressed by Dr Nicholas Kollerstrom, an Honorary Research Fellow in UCL Science & Technology Studies. The position of Honorary Research Fellow is a privilege bestowed by departments within UCL on researchers with whom it wishes to have an association. It is not an employed position.”

This is not an assault on “academic freedom”, as Duke and other Holocaust deniers would have you think. This is the university protecting itself and its reputation by releasing a volatile professor whom was an invited guest by UCL to perform astronomy research. Kollestrom most likely received his honorary research fellowship because of real academic contributions to the history of astronomy, as noted in the BBC article that Duke references. Too bad that the university did not pick up on any of Kollestrom’s various pseudoscientific ideas at the time of his bestowment.

Back to Duke’s article:

“On 7th May Dr Kollerstrom first became acquainted with Lady Renouf to seek advice on whether he could expect to travel safely to Germany where he hoped to present his paper The Walls of Auschwitz – a review of the chemical studies to the Berlin Conference on 15th-18th May. Lady Renouf advised in her observation that:

a) it was unlikely that the organisers would include a revisionist paper in their unchallengeable conference (as opposed to the entirely open to allcomers Tehran Conference in 2006 on The Holocaust – A Global Review). And to prove the case she asked the Berlin Conference organisers whether she could be included as press, but received no response;

b) if Dr Kollerstrom were to open his scientific mouth in Germany, or in any of the ten countries where it is illegal to bring forensic science in to question the Holocaust legend “in full or in part”, he would risk certain prosecution and a long term of imprisonment.”

We talked about the 2006 conference that Iran hosted in The SGU episode number 73. Listening back to it now, Perry had mentioned, thereby reminding me now, that David Duke was an invited guest to that “entirely open” conference. Steve quite correctly summed up then that this was a case of pure politics trumping science. Duke defending Kollerstrom is essentially the same thing. Duke is a political animal who could care less about the plethora of evidence of the systematic extermination of Jews along with other enemies of Hitler by Hitler’s regime. Duke has a political agenda, deeply couched in his hatred of Jews, and nothing will dissuade him from this mindset.

The last paragraph from Duke reads:

“The substance of Dr Kollerstrom’s interview (with Press TV–a mouthpiece for Iran in The United Kingdom) is his hope that a scientific journal will sponsor his own on site chemical analysis of the walls of Auschwitz, in the tradition of the Leuchter Report and the Rudolf Report. These authors, like Dr Kollerstrom himself, came to this work out of scientific curiosity and with no political interest.”

If Kollerstam came to his conclusions on astrology and crop circles the same way he did in this chemical analysis of the concentration camps gas chambers, then this is reason enough to require extraordinary evidence for his extraordinary claims. The Leuchter Report and its author, Fred A. Leuchter, has been discredited in a British court of law as unqualified, and his report concerning the gas-chambers of Auschwitz has been dismissed by scientists as pseudoscience. The author of the book ‘The Rudolph Report’, Germar Rudolf, a German chemist, wrote a criticism about the verifiability of cyanide use in the gas chambers of Aushwitz. Rudolf too is, correctly, a discredited figure in the circles of science and academia.

So in summary, the following things can be stated:

1) Dr. Dean Edell is awesome and everyone should listen to his broadcasts.
2) Nicholas Kollerstrom, astronomer and Holocaust denier, who also believes in astrology and crop circles, was rightfully dismissed from UCL with nary a threat to the overstretched blanket known as “academic freedom.”
3) David Duke is a modern day poster-child for Nazism and hatred, and he can be described as evil to the core.
4) Those whom lie under the blanket of “academic freedom” to protect their myths, personal beliefs, pseudoscience, and hatred of others have no business teaching young minds in the schools or universities of the world. For it is not academic freedom that they truly seek, but rather, they seek a credible venue to spew forth their venom and hate, and to revise history to conform to their twisted and destructive personal opinions.

4 comments to Lying Under The Blanket of Academic Freedom

  • DLC

    Don’t know how much studying Duke did for his “doctorate” from the Interregional Academy for Personnel Management. (what the acronym means translated from the Russian).
    By all accounts, MAUP is a place where Duke would feel right at home. They have called on the UN to “close” the State of Israel by overturning the 1947 resolution. It’s a case of the low-life defending the low-life. I would like to point out yet again that the right to free speech does not come with the right to an audience.
    Therefore I generally refuse to read or listen to anyone like David Duke or his man-of-the-hour Kollerstrom.

  • Jim Shaver

    Clearly, Duke and Kollerstrom are not victims of repression through denial of academic freedom. In fact, they are beneficiaries of the true academic freedom that allows them to freely act as moronic and disgusting as they can manage. They’re entitled to their opinions, and others are entitled to call them what they are, and to not invite them back. That’s free speech.

  • rrichard

    I love David Duke, because he’s a waving red flag of absolute ignorance and stupidity. Saying that man is associated with something is a pretty good shorthand for saying that it should be either shot or avoided at all costs.

    He has the added benefit of highlighting precisely how insipid and odious racism really is. It makes me think we should all join together and hate the one truly deserving group, asses (can I say that on the blog?).

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