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April 7, 2014

New book “The Unpersuadables” by Will Storr reviewed by Michael Shermer

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:50 am

My blog post today is about a new book which mentions the gas chambers at Majdanek.  I previously blogged about the Majdanek gas chambers at

At the end of Michael Shermer’s review of the book entitled The Unpersuadables is this sentence: “Mr. Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine and a monthly columnist for Scientific American. His next book is on the moral arc of science.”

Michael Shermer’s review of Will Storr’s new book, was published in the Wall Street Journal. You can read the review in full at

This quote is from Michael Shermer’s review:

Mr. [David] Irving is one of a pantheon of unconventional characters featured in Will Storr’s “The Unpersuadables,” a series of vignettes about what he calls “enemies of science.” In addition to Mr. Irving, Mr. Storr profiles British ESP researcher Rupert Sheldrake, Australian creationist John Mackay, past-life regressionist Vered Kilstein and the late John Mack, a Harvard Medical School professor and Pulitzer Prize-winner who also happened to believe in alien-abduction stories.

Mr. Storr’s style is to get close to his subjects by spending enough time with them so that they let down their guard and say what they’re really thinking. For his chapter on Mr. Irving, for example, Mr. Storr spends a week touring Nazi concentration camps with Mr. Irving and his followers. He narrates this trip in a you-are-there account that takes the reader right into a gas chamber at Poland’s Majdanek concentration camp, where Mr. Irving announces to his group: “This is a mock-up of a gas chamber. Those cylinders are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide. A typical Polish botch job. There are handles on the inside of these doors,” suggesting that the prisoners could have simply let themselves out.

Mr. Storr has an engaging, first-person style and makes it clear that his purpose is to grasp why people believe such irrationalities more than it is to debunk their specific beliefs. But he gives his readers enough information to test the verisimilitude of his characters’ claims. For example, Mr. Storr examines those doors on that “mock-up” gas chamber. He finds that “there were bolts on the outside, two of them, huge ones, each attached to clasps that would have locked the door closed over airtight seals.” Mr. Storr adds that Mr. Irving also saw these details, “the manifest truth” that the gas chamber was real. “What happened in his mind when he saw the bolts?” Mr. Storr asks. Was Mr. Irving “a liar or deluded? Evil or mistaken?”

Mr. Storr finds one answer in a cognitive process called confirmation bias, where we look for and find confirming evidence for our beliefs, ignoring or rationalizing away all disconfirming evidence. We remember in great detail studies that support our political preferences, forgetting all counterexamples. We also tend to befriend people who think like us and so reinforce our beliefs. This cognitive bias is not restricted to the unpersuadables—we all have it—but when you’re dealing with sensitive topics like the Holocaust, it’s especially noticeable.

I haven’t read this new book, and probably never will, so I don’t know if Michael Shermer is aware that the number of gas chambers at Majdanek has been reduced.

The room, in the photo below, is called a gas chamber, on a similar photo, at the Yad Vashem museum in Israel.  This room is actually a real shower room.

Shower room inside the Majdanek "gas chamber" is called a gas chamber by Yad Vashem

Shower room inside the Majdanek “gas chamber” is called a gas chamber by Yad Vashem

The entrance to one of the gas chambers at Majdeank was through this air raid shelter door

The entrance to one of the gas chambers at Majdeank was through this air raid shelter door

Notice the peephole in the door shown in the photo above. The peephole was for the people inside the gas chamber to look out. Note that there is a door handle on the inside of the door. The victims inside the gas chamber could look through the peephole, and if it was all clear, they could open the door from the inside.

Did David Irving point this out to the people on his tour?

I saw the Majdanek gas chambers on a trip to Poland in 1998. I had to restrain myself from laughing when I saw the gas chambers at Majdanek.

According to the book review, David Irving made the statement: “Those cylinders [inside the gas chamber] are carbon dioxide not carbon monoxide.”  When I was at Majdanek in 1998, I saw these cylinders, which are in a tiny room inside one of the large gas chambers.

Two cylinders inside the Majdanek gas chamber

Two cylinders inside the Majdanek gas chamber

David Irving pointed out the carbon monoxide cylinders in the Majdanek gas chamber

David Irving points out the carbon dioxide cylinders in the Majdanek gas chamber

When I was at Majdanek, my tour guide told me that an SS man, wearing a gas mask, stood inside a little room, which was inside a larger room, and gassed the prisoners with carbon monoxide.  The SS man was armed with a gun, to shoot the prisoners inside the gas chamber if they tried to attack him. I am not sure if the tour guides are still telling visitors this ridiculous story.

I don’t know the difference between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, so I don’t know what these cylinders were used for, nor why they were stored inside a Majdanek gas chamber room.

The entrance to the Majdanek gas chambers is through a real shower room. My tour guide told me that the purpose of taking a shower was to warm up the bodies of the prisoners so that the gas would act faster to kill them. I laughed out loud, but quickly hid my laughter by pretending to cough.

The prisoners at Majdanek also had to take a dip in a bathtub before they were gassed.  The photo below shows the bathtub inside the fourth gas chamber, at the Majdanek camp.  This gas chamber was reconstructed by Soviets after the building was allegedly burned down by the Nazis.

Bathtub inside the Crematorium at Majdanek death camp Photo Credit: PickledPru

Bathtub inside the Crematorium at Majdanek death camp Photo Credit: PickledPru

David Irving became a “Holocaust denier” when he said that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp was a “reconstruction.”  At the time that he said this, the Auschwitz Museum was claiming that the gas chamber in the main camp is original. Now it is being admitted that the gas chamber in the main Auschwitz camp is a reconstruction, done by the Soviets after they liberated Auschwitz.

Now David Irving is being ridiculed by Michael Shermer because he is trying to teach people about the Majdanek gas chambers, which are quickly going by the wayside. Majdanek had the lowest number of Jewish deaths of any “death camp” yet it had the highest number of “gas chambers.”

The number of Jews killed at Majdanek has now been officially reduced to 59,000. It was claimed, by the Soviets, at the Nuremberg IMT that 1.5 million Jews had been killed at Majdanek. I wonder what Michael Shermer has to say about that.

P.S. In other news, you can read an interesting article at


  1. I just now a had a phone talk with a German gentleman who had been 7 years in the WEHRMACHT unit, which from Apil 10 to April 20 1945 stood ready to suppress the farce of a revolt, nicht from 17 to 18 April 1945 – set up by mean of “agent provocateurs” just by the Eichmann staff. We are in contact and friends since 2005 and so I learned about the PRAGUE WEHRMACHT KOMMANDO had been ready to grant the Eichmnn gang to kill us all. My friend shares my view about the great ignorance on XXII and SHOAH IN USA. My friend said: From where they could learn the things occured? The USA negationists simply want to divert attention from the great responsibility of the foolish President Wilson, a puppet in the hands of WHITE, ANGLOSAXON, PROTESTANT Wall Street High Finance of those times.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — April 13, 2014 @ 11:57 am

  2. Link for the Weber/Shermer debate below doesn’t work. Try here instead –

    Comment by Les — April 12, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

  3. Michael Shermer debated Mark Weber on the topic of the holocaust back in 1995. He must have thought he came off second best because he refuses to allow mention of this debate on his website –

    Comment by Les — April 12, 2014 @ 9:21 pm

  4. Th whole of public discourse in the post-WWII West is built on Hitler analogies, “the lessons of Munich” and Holocaust/Shoah fetishism. Meanwhile the 100 million killed by the Communists are completely forgotten. Oddly, there was little talk of *that* even at the height of the so-called McCarthy period.We are living in a Dark Age of pure insanity.

    A very incomplete list of victims (mostly from the last few years) of leftist-inspired purges that doesn’t include any Holocaust skeptics:

    Opposition to the regime is completely impotent so it’s not necessary to kill anyone. Resistance of course comes from outside the West in the form of Islam, but the regime obviously doesn’t take this seriously since it is flooding Europe with Muslims.

    Comment by fnn — April 8, 2014 @ 5:44 am

  5. I was on this trip with David Irving and Will Storr. Much of what he says is pure myth

    Comment by schlageter — April 7, 2014 @ 10:30 am

    • Do you mean that much of what David Irving says is pure myth, or that much of what Will Storr says is pure myth?

      Comment by furtherglory — April 7, 2014 @ 10:51 am

      • Storr filled his passage on Irving with exaggerations and half-truths. I have photographs taken right next to Storr and Irving in the “gas chamber” that show exactly what Irving said about CO2 being clearly marked on the canisters. He also attempts to portray as sinister neo nazis who likely would have killed him had he revealed his fiancée was Pakistani. Rubbish.

        Comment by Schlageter — April 7, 2014 @ 5:32 pm

        • It would be great if you could post your photographs of the Majdanek CO2 canisters on the internet.

          Is the real purpose of those CO2 canisters known?

          Comment by hermie — April 7, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

          • I have added some photos of the canisters, including a photo which shows David Irving pointing out the carbon dioxide label on one of the canisters. I have also added a photo of a concrete bathtub. The prisoners had to first take a shower, then a dip in a tub of disinfectant, before going into the gas chamber to be killed. This picture shows the concrete tub in the gas chamber that was reconstructed by the Soviets. In their reconstruction, they put the opening for the gas directly above the floor drain.

            I wrote about the bathtub on this blog post:

            Comment by furtherglory — April 8, 2014 @ 7:43 am

          • I have updated my blog post, and added photos of the CO2 canisters.

            Comment by furtherglory — April 8, 2014 @ 7:52 am

            • Thank you. My photos are very similar. I liked Storr personally, but he was very disingenuous, and really exaggerated his interactions with the group. The excerpt published in the Sunday Times was actually much worse than what he actually wrote in his book.

              Comment by schlageter — April 8, 2014 @ 9:00 am

            • Thank you for the pictures, furtherglory. Is that possible to know what is written on those canisters? The text is very difficult to read.

              Comment by hermie — April 8, 2014 @ 12:08 pm

              • I don’t know what is written on the canisters, but it could be “Carbon dioxide” since David Irving was claiming that it was carbon dioxide. When I was at Majdanek in 1998, my guide told me that it was Carbon Monoxide. She was a Polish woman, not Jewish. She was very suspicious of me because I was not showing enough emotion to suit her. I was supposed to cry over the Jews who had been gassed at Majdanek, but I was obviously skeptical.

                Comment by furtherglory — April 8, 2014 @ 1:00 pm

                • Maybe I’m dreaming. But I believe I can read CO2 on one of the canisters.

                  Comment by hermie — April 10, 2014 @ 4:35 pm

  6. The best allies of negazionist are the ignorant guides on those sites. I remember a German lady who visited Auschwit with her father who listening the “explainations of the polish guide remarked several times: This is not esact as, indeed, that had been at that other place, etc etc, Then that lady learnt that her father had served as SS guard just at Auschwitz . and after war some years in prison – being so quite better informed about the way those terrible events really occured. Other allies of negazionists are those who dared to work out the “reconstructions!! instead to leave the remaining of the destriuctions done by the nazis before leaving. The Warshw city authorities are now about to demolish te WALL of the UMSCHLAGPLATZ a remaining of great historical value. Polish Government turned out Auschwits, Treblinka, Maydanek, Sobibor, Chelom the Cracaw Ghetto in actractions for USA tourists who usually asl very silly questions. I had had relatives and friends real Auschwitz and Death March survivors butt I never dared to question thenm on painfull details; even so I know too much for the health of my nerves.

    Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — April 7, 2014 @ 10:23 am

    • Don’t bother asking your relatives Wolf.
      They’ll only tell you a crock of shit, and if you can’t believe your own relatives, who can you believe?

      Comment by DB — April 7, 2014 @ 10:53 am

      • My relatives had already passed away so as many survivors I met. But Your reply is very rude and cruel indeed. In the event You can read my answer I never dared to ask about details for simple human sensivity not tp let remmber traumatic and stressing events. Your English seems not much better than mine,

        Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — April 7, 2014 @ 12:04 pm

    • On a trip to Poland in 1998, my private tour guide took me to see the Umschlagplatz. I wrote about it on my website at

      It is my understanding that the monument that I show on my website was built on the site of the Umschlagplatz, which was torn down.

      Comment by furtherglory — April 7, 2014 @ 10:57 am

    • You wrote: “I remember a German lady who visited Auschwit with her father who listening the “explainations of the polish guide remarked several times: This is not esact as, indeed, that had been at that other place, etc etc, Then that lady learnt that her father had served as SS guard just at Auschwitz .”

      So after an SS guard at Auschwitz finally got out of prison, he took his daughter to Auschwitz and started contradicting a “polish guide” about Auschwitz, thus allowing his daughter to find out, for the first time, that her father had been a war criminal at Auschwitz. I find this hard to believe.

      Comment by furtherglory — April 7, 2014 @ 11:07 am

    • Do you realize how ridiculous your word “negazionist” is, Wolf Murmelstein? Many Israeli scholars as Yehuda Bauer and Zionist organizations as the ADL legitimately regard “Holocaust denial” as one of the most dangerous threats to the existence of the colonial state of Israël. The Israeli state made “Holocaust denial” illegal (with a penalty of 5 years in jail) in the mid-1980’s, years prior to the European countries having similar laws.

      There is now a widespread habit of labelling the words “Zionism” and “Zionist” on everything regarded as evil by a person or another. But claiming “Holocaust denial” is a Zionist thing in order to make it look evil is ridiculous beyond anything ever seen. You really look like a moronic crackpot with your word “negazionist”.

      Comment by hermie — April 7, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

      • This is your level of lack of manners using terms like “crackpot” or “moronic” when discussing with some one you do not agree with. By the way, my opinion on persons like Yehud Bauer, Gershon Shome, Hanna Arendt, etc. sho stoodf safe whilr we stood in that hell, should be well known to the readers of present page,

        Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — April 8, 2014 @ 8:08 am

        • I wrote “LOOK LIKE a moronic crackpot”. If you don’t want to look like such a thing, don’t use laughable words like “negazionist”. If you want to look like a cultured man, talk like a cultured man not reduced to easy irrational distortions like associating “negation” and “zionist” to prove his point.

          Whatever. Thanks for your “negazionist”. I laughed a lot… 😉

          Comment by hermie — April 8, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

          • Due to theese manners you do nt even deserve the title “negationist”. I put questions even on some “negationist” site obtaining better mannered replies or informations. Clear?

            Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — April 9, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

            • Don’t play the puritan card with me. It’s too transparent.

              Just admit your “negazionist” thing was ridiculous and move to something else.

              Comment by hermie — April 10, 2014 @ 1:31 am

              • I would made distinction between negationinsìm – denying the Shoah or some guilt for events occured – and great ignorance and full lack of manners. You, as many of other commentators, belong to the second group, I feel that in USA some people simply cannot accept that the Nazis had been able to develop the single “lawfull execution” Gas Chambers in famous ashaming USA prisons in Mass Murder Gas Chambers keeping their technique secret. Facing the SS one could learn how to keep secret. In USA Your many “Agencies” are fully unable to keep secrets. So seen refering to some CIA actions.

                Comment by Wolf Murmelstein — April 12, 2014 @ 10:44 am

                • Nice speech, but I’m not even American, wolfie. And I am far from being uneducated about the holo-myth.

                  You can call the complete lack of evidence for the gas chambers “a secret” if you want to. But I’m not that gullible. There is no evidence because no homicidal gassing took place during WW2, not because all the evidence were obliterated or the Nazis kept their alleged extermination policy secret. The “gas chamber” story was an old trick of Allied atrocity propaganda. During WW1, British propagandists claimed that the Austro-Bulgars and their “Hun” allies had killed 700,000 Serbian children, women and old people in gas chambers. There were big typhus epidemics in Serbia during WW1. So some British propagandists thought it would be a great idea to turn the Serbian typhus victims into gassed victims in order to demonize their enemies. Reminds you nothing? 😉

                  Comment by hermie — April 17, 2014 @ 8:07 pm

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