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Godwin’s Law

June 17, 2011

I use to participate in a lot of Internet discussions (still do when I find time) and read a lot of debates on a multitude of subjects.  It is a great way to equip yourself with skills of  debating, fallacy avoidance and get your points across in a more succinct form. I encountered a particular trend in some discussions, especially when the topic has been ongoing and exhaustive. This is seen especially when a person is running out of counter-points and has little else to add of value.  I observered this before I knew its name. I am referring to Godwin’s law. The ‘law’ states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1 (100%).”

Its a humorous observation that does have truth to it, even if you can’t strictly say it a law in the same sense as the laws of physics are defined. The law is usually applied in a hyperbolic sense to equate the opponents views to the atrocities of Nazis/Hitler.

A couple of examples.

“Dude, please stop making offensive comments. You are not making sense.”
“Oh, so now you’re trying to censor me? You are such a Nazi!”

“I believe that art and personal expression have an important place in our society and the government should support it”

“Hitler use to paint, look how he expressed himself with death-camps!”

You get the idea.  It’s a Grand Canyon leap in logic and a gratuitous exaggeration of the other persons views. So what can you take away from this? Well avoid the mention of Hitler or the Nazlis like the plague of National Socialists when making your arguments:D .

If you hear someone else using the argument then consider game-over and pat yourself on the back because you have officially won the argument.

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