MBATricks

Tips and Tricks about my MBA experience

Communication :: Godwin’s Law

 

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

 

Godwin’s Law is an internet adage / behavioral observation that was first coined by Mike Godwin in 1990. This so-called law refers to one of the earliest bits of Usenet customs, which goes “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.”

 

Godwin’s Law is often cited in online discussions as a deterrent against the use of arguments in the widespread reductio ad Hitlerum form. The rule does not make any statement about whether any particular reference or comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis might be appropriate, but only asserts that the likelihood of such a reference or comparison arising increases as the discussion progresses. It is precisely because such a comparison or reference may sometimes be appropriate, Godwin has argued, that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

 

Sources:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/godwins-law

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin’s_law

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/godwin.if.html

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