I agree with the statement “I believe that under the criminal reign of the third Reich mass killing camps were operated.”, because I trust both, the statements of the experts’ of history as well as those of the eye-witnesses.
He admits to be no expert and so he withholds his own opinion and trusts the experts. This is what skeptics tell us to do. The Vienna University for Economics seizes this opportunity to get rid of somebody who dared to speak up. They want to kick Franz Hörmann out for saying that history is always subjective and never free of ideology (“weil es keine objektive und ideologiefreie Diskussion über diese Frage gab”). They press criminal charges against him!
They charge him as a holocaust denier – not for denying anything, but for not on cue expressing a politically correct (PC) opinion on something that he is not an expert on. Instead of "skeptics" supporting him, those hounds licked blood. Convenient bashing of people who are already on the ground is what the skeptics’ scene is about.
Franz has a screw loose with being a roman catholic, founding the “human way party”, and predicting the end of money in 2011. His distinction between history and memory is suspect; both are constructed records. One could start all kinds of criticisms, which however has not been pursued by the university or the “skeptics”. They just want to shut up a critic.
There are two positive aspects worth pointing out in relation to what Franz said, and it is these that are criticized and led to him being charged in court:
1) History is his-story, the story of the winner, rationalization/justification of power structures. Science-fiction turns always out to be more what people of a certain epoch thought the future would be rather than what the future turns out to be. History is reverse-SciFi. Constructionists may have a hard time to argue their points, but history is their reliable source for supportive examples. As a physicist, I might add that there are many pasts.
2) Holocaust political correctness is not ethical. It is not the holocaust that stops me from killing Jews. If the holocaust is yet another piece of distorted history (which at least the nonsense 6 million number of course is!), I will not start gassing Jews. The obsession with the holocaust is hypocrisy, functionally perhaps mainly distracting from modern day exploitation.
For saying such one can be charged with holocaust denial in Germany and Austria, as is done now to Franz Hörmann. The ugly thing for the science blogosphere and “skepticism”: it is supported by them, for example by the German science blog “Kritisch Gedacht”, whose writer is one of Hörmann’s competitors at the same university. [UPDATE: I mention this to give Ulrich (that Science Blogger) a taste of what it feels like if facts are taken out of context. He jumped on a bandwagon to bash Franz, whose comments have been cut out of context by some student uni-paper. Those students pretended to ask about occupy but forced unrelated holocaust questions until Franz was worn down enough to say something that can be distorted, though as benign as "sorry, I do not have any opinion on this, can we please talk about something else". Ulrich complained to me about revealing that he is a competitor and he claimed factual errors in this post. I invited him to elaborate, but he has not reported any factual errors. He has instead, as is typical for pseudo skeptics, insulted me in places where he can be sure of his minions applause.]
The German SB, much like its US overlord, is overrun by mediocre science careerists who make themselves a platform via so called skepticism. There are three of them now in the physics section alone, all proud members of so called skeptics organizations like the “GWUP”, a club for “science and critical thinking” that does zero critical thinking but a whole lot of “Eso-bashing” – think lambasting every instance of homeopathy with great fanfare and chin-stretching.
These sorts of science bloggers reheat platitudes, like how weird the quantum is and how marvelous the many stars in the sky, how super great Einstein was and all the scientists generally, and they like to fire slightly modified press releases and twitter-feeds in rapid succession to always stay on top on the SB home page. The main aim however is: Bashing anything that does not toe the party line on naïve scientism and “progressive” PC politics.
If skepticism goes against astrology or dowsing being taught at universities, and if it is done with correct arguments, fine. Sadly, correct arguments are rare and bad ones backfire; people further distrust what is shoved down their throats under the “science” label. Pseudo-skepticism decreases the public trust in science just like lefty progressiveness gives strength to the right wing.