Godwin's Law

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Fri Jul 4 17:36:54 EDT 2003


On Fri, 4 Jul 2003, Hallie O'Donovan wrote:
> Anna:

> >	I dunno, I agree with you that it's generally a cheap tactic in to
> >lower the tone of an argument by accusing your opponent of being a
> >bookburner or whatever, kind of like the old rule that the first person
> >who mentions Nazi Germany in a debate has lost,

> :-)  Hadn't come across that particular rule before, but will be
> careful to remember it!

	<grin> You might find this interesting!

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

	Which is a discussion of Godwin's Law Of Nazi Analogies which
states " 'As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a
comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one'. There is a tradition
in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever
mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in
progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an
upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a
widely- recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin's Law
in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful."

	It dates all the way back to 1991, so you can see this is a very
venerable bit of net lore :-)

	If you want more, there's an even longer discussion of Godwin's
Law and its application to everyday net life here:

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/legends/godwin/

	And an article by Godwin himself on the subject of why he
formulated the law in the first place here:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/godwin.if.html?pg=1&topic=

	Anna


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