Common halfway-house position
<< Does anyone, anywhere, really believe anything important found on facebook, or any other site on the Internet, without researching other sources?
If they do, and they spout about it in public, they deserve the ridicule that is sure to follow. >>
Yes, they do. Lots of them. People will believe anything they read, whether it be the latest junk horrors-we're-all-going-to-die hysteria in the tabloids, or the idiotic rumourmongering in these noxious 'celeb' magazines.
The big problem is that you can't just dismiss it as above: "if they believe it then they deserve to be ridiculed". Yes, they do deserve that - but the problem is if enough people start parroting something then more people will be swayed by it and sooner or later the truth becomes the minority view; abandoned in favour of the conspiracy theory, the rumour, whatever. The question then is who's actually getting ridiculed.
How many people believe - truly, fervently believe - every word of those asinine websites about September 11th being an inside job? Yes, quite obviously the supposed 'evidence' that The Government Did It amounts to absolutely nothing beyond speculation and wishful thinking - but there are a LOT of people around the world who are willing to uncritically embrace every wild claim the conspiracy theorists chuck onto the web. But challenge them on any of their beliefs and you will find yourself treated as the idiot for not seeing the perfectly self-evident truth of the conspiracy...
@ Chris W:
<< Does this make all followers of any religion a jerk and an asshole? >>
No - but this wasn't a good place to ask that, in light of the kind of comments that usually get tagged to any article featuring religion. Some of them make Richard Dawkins look the very model of reason and tolerance.
@ vishal vashisht:
<< how long before religious nuts start calling for Facebook to close down athiest groups because they are offensive >>
Presumably you'd suggest that it couldn't happen the other way around? Haven't you noticed those atheists who claim that religion is the root of all human evil and that it must be eradicated? There are militants and fanatics on all sides. It's biased to imply that the intolerance runs in only one direction.
@ AC - "Censorship makes the situation worse":
<< [S]ome revisionists (call them deniers if you will) raise some very interesting questions about the detail of the holocaust . Many of these questions are about method and scale and do not necessarily say that it never happened. >>
The terms 'revisionist' and 'denier' are partially synonymous, in that a Holocaust denier is a historical revisionist. But not all historical revisionists are necessarily Holocaust deniers.
In context, though, what you're referring to are those people who seek to mitigate the Holocaust or otherwise excuse the Nazis by claiming that, "well, it *happened*, but it wasn't as bad as everyone says it was".
This is a common halfway-house position for former outright deniers who've studied the evidence and found themselves unable to remain convinced of the denial. However, Holocaust denial is normally the rationalisation for another motive, whether that be hatred of the Jews (and bearing in mind Chris's point that the Jews were only one of many persecuted groups, they're certainly the most politically prominent), love of the Nazi worldview, or both. Abandon denial entirely, and suddenly you're without even a pseudo-intellectual basis for your arguments and you're just another racist/anti-semite/nationalist/whatever.
Revisionism of the sort you describe is appealing for such people, because it allows them to offer apology for the Nazis while still maintaining the appearance of scholarly reason.
But ultimately we're still faced with one of the big questions of ethical philosophy here: how much do the numbers matter? Where do we draw the line between "abhorrent attempt at genocide" and "oh, that's okay then"? How many people would it have been acceptable for Hitler and his minions to kill *before* we consider it a crime against humanity? Would hundreds of thousands murdered be more acceptable than millions?
I agree that we must be able to study the Holocaust. If nothing else, such events serve as valuable lessons for us to learn (or would, if our species had the collective intelligence to do so). But there's a big, big difference between studying something with the intention of finding out about it, and studying it to find bits you can re-write in order to push a weighted political viewpoint.
(Incidentally, with regard to 'censorship' - that complaint doesn't apply on Facebook any more than it applies on Wikipedia. Both sites are publicly accessible, but they are not publicly owned and therefore the owning organisations may impose whatever terms and restrictions they wish on the activity of their users.)