Monday, December 17, 2018

Mattogno on Riga, Part Four: Polishing a Turd

Author: Andrew E. Mathis

I’m going to finish this series on Carlo Mattogno’s treatment of the murder on 30 November 1941 of thousands of Latvian Jews, plus a thousand Reich Jews who had just arrived in Riga, by making a few general observations.

Before that, however, a couple of confessions. First, I’m not an historian, although I do have an undergraduate history degree (summa cum laude) and 20 graduate credits in history (U.K. system). Also, I’ve never read a whole book by Mattogno. Readers of this blog will know that I am not a coauthor of the white paper published by most of the bloggers here several years ago, despite being one of the blog’s founders. Therefore, the extent to which I can claim any expertise on the topic at hand should be considered with those points in mind.

I spent the last week or so writing around 2,000 words on roughly ten pages of “history” written by Mattogno. While not an expert per se, I can state the following with confidence. Mattogno’s writing of history is terrible – just awful. If I submitted a paper for a grade with the kinds of errors he makes (or lies he tells), I’d get a failing grade. Were I a peer reviewer who received his work to be considered for publication in a scholarly journal (a job I have, in fact, done in a different field of the humanities), not only would I reject it outright, refusing to consider it further upon revision, but I would seriously doubt the field expertise and/or intellectual honesty of the writer.

In the ten pages on Riga alone, in a mere 2,000 words, I’ve managed to point out a number of serious methodological errors and instances of outright lying. This is not an historian – this is either an imbecile or an ideologue bent on falsifying the historical record. That Mattogno is routinely held up as the leading light of “revisionist scholarship” says a boatload about the quality of the scholarship we’re talking about. That he has managed to keep his hands relatively clean regarding overt anti-Semitism (a claim his coauthor Jurgen Graf cannot make) is a worthless distinction given the pitiful state of his “research."

“But look at all the footnotes!” Footnotes are worthless unless they’re deployed honestly. Yes, Mattogno cites a number of sources, but he doesn’t bother to present the material in those sources honestly or thoroughly.

“Thousands of pages can’t be wrong!” Yes, they can. Plus, did you ever notice how many of those pages are taken up by direct quotations? If he were a student, Mattogno would be cited for plagiarism despite acknowledging his sources because the sheer volume of quoted material is so great.

“He’s an expert in textual analysis!” Really? Who says? He doesn’t appear to have a degree in anything except (perhaps) classics and philosophy. I assume he learned some textual analysis as part of that process. That does not, however, make one an expert. Nor are the “readings” that he offers of many texts plausible or defensible.

Carlo Mattogno is a charlatan of the highest order. That he can reasonably present the veneer of respectability is beside the point. You can only polish that turd so much.


Hans Metzner said...

Well said, thanks!

Jonathan Harrison said...

Excellent post!

Nicholas Terry said...

Off-topic comment by Chick Fil A removed - the post above isn't about mass graves, nor was the section of Mattogno's book being critiqued by Andrew in this series about mass graves. There have been and will be plenty of other opportunities to talk about mass graves in on-topic posts.

Nicholas Terry said...

Mattogno's style of writing up his work genuinely hasn't evolved since 'The Myth of the Extermination of the Jews' in 1985. He has always simply wheeled out quotation-stacks with some minimal commentary in between. The dozens of books he's churned out always have ultra-short introductions and conclusions. So he hardly ever writes anything in his *own* words.

Something I posted (as a guest blogger for some reason I forget now) back in 2012 apropos MGK's then-forthcoming response to our 2011 white paper

"The first is presentational: we really hate to say it, but your books and articles simply look like the works of amateur cranks. In the critique, we chided you for the excessive use of verbatim quotations, something which is quite seriously frowned on in academia, not least because fair use limits the length of citations from secondary works, and because the full or excerpted reproduction of sources is traditionally done in appendices or document collections. This is because there are word limits out there in the real world imposed by journals and publishers. Stringing together verbatim quotes of excessive length is the kind of thing shocked out of first year undergraduates by any self-respecting university teacher through awarding a below-par mark."

Jonathan Harrison said...

We have known for a while that he doesn't care about inconsistencies, false interpretations and downright lies. What is interesting about this new episode is that he has been sent a list of queries by Rudolf and thrown it back in Rudolf's face, forcing Rudolf to write his bullshit foreword attacking HC rather than the real source of his embarrassment.