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Godwin's law

Godwin's law (or Godwin's rule of Hitler analogies)[1][2] is an Internet adage that asserts
that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler
approaches 1";[2][3] that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long
enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his
deeds. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990,[2] Godwin's
law originally referred specifically to Usenet newsgroup discussions.[4] It is now applied to
any threaded online discussion, such as Internet forums, chat rooms, and comment threads, as
well as to speeches, articles, and other rhetoric[5][6] where reductio ad Hitlerum occurs.

Generalization, corollaries, usage American attorney and


With respect to probability theory, Godwin's law becomes a special case of aBernoulli trial. author Mike Godwin coined
his eponymous law on
Indeed, there are many corollaries to Godwin's law, some considered more canonical (by Usenet in 1990
being adopted by Godwin himself)[3] than others.[1] For example, there is a tradition in many
newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the
thread is finished and whoever mentioned Adolf Hitler has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.[7] This principle is
.[8]
itself frequently referred to as Godwin's law

Godwin's law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent's argument as
hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.[9][10] Similar criticisms of the "law" (or "at least the
distorted version which purports to prohibit all comparisons to German crimes") have been made by the American lawyer, journalist,
and author Glenn Greenwald.[11]

History
memetics.[2]
Godwin has stated that he introduced Godwin's law in 1990 as an experiment in

Godwin's law does not claim to articulate a fallacy; it is instead framed as a memetic tool to reduce the incidence of inappropriate
hyperbolic comparisons. "Although deliberately framed as if it were a law of nature or of mathematics," Godwin wrote, "its purpose
has always been rhetorical and pedagogical: I wanted folks who glibly compared someone else to Hitler to think a bit harder about
the Holocaust."[12] In December 2015, Godwin commented on the Nazi and fascist comparisons being made by several articles on
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying: "If you're thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go
ahead and refer to Hitler when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician."[13] On August 13, 2017, Godwin made similar
remarks on social networking websites Facebook and Twitter with respect to the two previous days' Unite the Right rally in
Charlottesville, Virginia, endorsing and encouraging efforts to compare its alt-right organizers to Nazis.[14][15][16][17]

In 2012, "Godwin's law" became an entry in the third edition of theOxford English Dictionary.[18]

See also
Association fallacy
List of eponymous laws
Straw man
Think of the children
References
1. Tim Skirvin (September 15, 1999)."How to post about Hitler and get away with itthe Godwin's law AQ" F (https://we
b.archive.org/web/19991011095714/http://www .faqs.org/faqs/usenet/legends/godwin/). Skirv's Wiki. Archived from
the original (http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/legends/godwin/) on October 11, 1999.
2. Godwin, Mike (October 1994). "Meme, Counter-meme"
(https://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/godwin.if_pr.html). Wired. Retrieved March 24, 2006.
3. Godwin, Mike (January 12, 1995). "Godwin's law of Hitler Analogies (and Corollaries)"(http://w2.eff.org/Net_culture/
Folklore/Humor/godwins.law). EFF.org. Electronic Frontier Foundation. pp. "Net Culture Humor" archive section.
Retrieved June 19, 2012.
4. Godwin, Mike (August 18, 1991). "Re: Nazis (was Re: Card's Article on Homosexuality"(https://groups.google.com/g
roups?selm=1991Aug18.215029.19421%40ef f.org). Newsgroup: rec.arts.sf-lovers (news:rec.arts.sf-lovers).
Usenet: 1991Aug18.215029.19421@eff.org (news:1991Aug18.215029.19421@eff.org).
5. Goldacre, Ben (September 16, 2010)."Pope aligns atheists with Nazis. Bizarre. Transcript here" (https://web.archive.
org/web/20130325005933/http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/nazi-youth-pope-aligns-atheists-with-nazis-bi) .
bengoldacre secondary blog. Archived fromthe original (http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/nazi-youth-pope-aligns-
atheists-with-nazis-bi) on March 25, 2013.
6. Stanley, Timothy (March 6, 2014)."Hillary, Putin's no Hitler" (http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/05/opinion/stanley-hillary
-clinton-hitler/index.html?hpt=hp_c2). Opinion. CNN. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
7. "Internet rules and laws: the top 10, from Godwin to Poe"(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/6408927/Inte
rnet-rules-and-laws-the-top-10-from-Godwin-to-Poe.html) . The Daily Telegraph (London), October 23, 2009.
8. Oliver, John (host) (13 August 2017)."North Korea" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07tMQs-5SD8). Last Week
Tonight. "There honestly aren't that many instances in modern American politics where you can honestly think: that
guy really should have mentioned the nazis, but this is emphatically one of them. It's like the reversed Godwin's law -
if you fail to mention nazism, you loose the argument.". HBO. Retrieved 7 November 2017.
9. David Weigel, "Hands Off Hitler! It's time to repeal Godwin'sLaw" (http://www.reason.com/news/show/32944.html)
Reason magazine, July 14, 2005
10. Mitt Hitler and Double Standards: Godwin's Law Applies to Thee, But Not to Me
(http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/201
2/05/adolf-hitler-and-double-standards.html), No Pasarn, May 28, 2012
11. Greenwald, Glenn (July 1, 2010) The odiousness of the distorted Godwin's Law(http://www.salon.com/2010/07/01/g
odwin/), Salon.com
12. "I Seem To Be A Verb: 18 Years of Godwin's Law" (http://www.jewcy.com/post/i_seem_be_verb_18_years_godwins_l
aw). Jewcy.com. April 30, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
13. Godwin, Mike (14 December 2015)."Sure, call Trump a Nazi. Just make sure youknow what you're talking about"(h
ttps://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/12/14/sure-call-trump-a-nazi-just-make-sure-you-know-what
-youre-talking-about/). The Washington Post.
14. Gilbert, Alexandre (17 August 2017)."Godwin's law & the Nazi Cosplay Hobbiysts"(http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/go
dwins-law-the-nazi-cosplay-hobbiysts/). Times of Israel.
15. Godwin, Mike (14 August 2017)."Mike Godwin on Facebook: "By all means, compare these shitheads to the Nazis.
Again and again. I'm with you." " (https://web.archive.org/web/20170814022147/https://m.facebook.com/story
.php?st
ory_fbid=10154965671861483&id=1). Facebook. Archived from the original (https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story
_fbid=10154965671861483&id=1)on 14 August 2017.
16. Godwin, Mike (13 August 2017)."Mike Godwin on Twitter: "By all means, compare these shitheads to Nazis. Again
and again. I'm with you." " (https://web.archive.org/web/20170814002835/https://twitter
.com/sfmnemonic/status/8968
84949634232320). Twitter. Archived from the original (https://twitter.com/sfmnemonic/status/896884949634232320)
on 14 August 2017.
17. Mandelbaum, Ryan. "Godwin of Godwin's Law: 'By All Means, Compare These Shitheads to the Nazis
' " (https://gizm
odo.com/godwin-of-godwins-law-by-all-means-compare-these-shi-1797807646)
. Gizmodo. Retrieved 14 August
2017.
18. "Godwin's law" (http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/340583?redirectedFrom=Godwin%27s+law#eid). Oxford English
Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved February 27, 2013.

Further reading
Anderson, Nate (September 1, 2011)."No Nazi comparisons? Sounds like something Hitler would say!"
. Ars
Technica. Retrieved September 1, 2011.

External links
Tim Skirvin (September 15, 1999)."How to post about Nazis and get away with itthe Godwin's law AQ".
F Skirv's
Wiki. Archived from the original on October 11, 1999.
"I Seem to be a Verb"; Mike Godwin's commentary on the 18th anniversary of Godwin's law
"My Nazi Can Beat Up Your Nazi" by Michael Sietzman
"Is it ever OK to call someone a Nazi?". BBC News. July 14, 2010.
Fishman, Aleisa (September 1, 2011)."Voices on Antisemitism - Interview with Mike Godwin". U.S. Holocaust
Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on May 16, 2013.
Interview with "Mike Godwin on Godwin's Law"by Dan Amira, New York magazine, March 8, 2013
Wired 2.10; Meme, Counter-Meme by Mike Godwin

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