People make “hard to believe” and/or false statements all the time.
When an email was sent to UVM students suggesting an Auschwitz crematorium was a hoax, the response from the UVM vice provost for student affairs was a statement that any communication that falsely proclaims inaccurate historical events has no place at UVM.
A more purposeful response could have come from the president of UVM stating that there are many objectives of a university education, foremost of which is students must develop the ability to think for themselves, and to intelligently evaluate statements by anyone that appear incompatible with historical realities.
Lies and deception are an unfortunate reality of life in modern society, and it is essential for students to acquire the ability to separate truth from fiction.
In response to new developments in the classroom learning environment on campuses, the American Association of University Professors recently warned: “The presumption that students need to be protected rather than challenged in a classroom is at once infantilizing and anti-intellectual.”
The same perspective applies to unsolicited emails containing false revisionist theories of history.
Gerry Silverstein, PhD