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Godwin’s Law

Definition

Godwin’s Law is an internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches inevitability. Coined by Mike Godwin in 1990, this observation highlights the tendency of people to use these extreme comparisons in debates, often to discredit or attack their opponent’s argument. The term is often used to point out the fallacious nature of such comparisons and to discourage their usage in discussions.

Phonetic

Godwin’s Law in phonetic alphabet is:/ˈɡɒdwɪnz lɔː/G – ɡ as in “g”oo – ɒ as in “c”o”t”d – d as in “d”ow – w as in “w”eti – ɪ as in “b”i”t”n – n as in “n”oz – z as in “z”oo(space)L – l as in “l”eta – ɔ as in “c”aw”w – w as in “w”et

Key Takeaways

  1. Godwin’s Law states that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches inevitable.
  2. It was formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990 as an observation of how discussions tended to devolve, particularly on the early internet Usenet forums.
  3. Although it was initially intended as a satirical observation, Godwin’s Law can be a reminder to engage in more thoughtful and civil discourse instead of resorting to inflammatory comparisons.

Importance

Godwin’s Law is important because it serves as both a cultural observation and guiding principle in the realm of online discussions and debates.

Named after its creator, Mike Godwin, it asserts that as an online conversation grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches certainty.

By highlighting the overuse and diminishing impact of such comparisons, Godwin’s Law encourages participants in online forums and social media platforms to engage in more thoughtful and productive discussions.

Moreover, it urges people to refrain from utilizing emotionally charged, historical references, like the Nazis or Hitler, simply to discredit opposing viewpoints or to evoke shock value, thus promoting healthier discourse and a more inclusive online environment.

Explanation

Godwin’s Law is a significant adage in digital communication, specifically within the realm of online discussions and debates. It was introduced by Mike Godwin, an American attorney and author, in 1990 and has since played a crucial role in the moderation of conversations on internet platforms.

Its primary purpose is to serve as a rhetorical tool that calls out the unwarranted use of comparisons to Nazis or Hitler when discussing topics in a non-historical context. The core idea of Godwin’s Law lies in its assertion that, as online discussions continue, the probability of someone drawing parallels to Nazis or Hitler approaches inevitability.

This assumption highlights how such comparisons are not only exaggerated but also detracts from productive conversations, often derailing the topic at hand. By underscoring the extent to which this type of hyperbolic comparison can hinder the quality and validity of a debate, Godwin’s Law encourages more respectful and relevant discourse on the internet.

It pushes individuals to consider more nuanced, objective, and well-grounded arguments rather than resorting to provocative exaggerations, which may create unnecessary tensions between participants. In summary, Godwin’s Law is more than just a humorous adage; it serves as an important guideline for users of the digital realm, fostering an environment that encourages logical, respectful, and thoughtful debates that contribute positively to the exchange of ideas online.

Examples of Godwin’s Law

Godwin’s Law is not a technology, but rather an adage or a principle of internet discussions and debates. It was formulated by Mike Godwin in 1990 and states that “as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches

” In other words, if a conversation on the internet goes on long enough, someone will eventually bring up Hitler or the Nazis as a comparison, whether it’s relevant or not.Here are three real-world examples of Godwin’s Law:

Online Political Debates: During political discussions on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, people often start comparing unpopular politicians or controversial policies to Hitler or the Nazis, regardless of how accurate or appropriate the comparison is. This frequently occurs in heated debates related to gun control, immigration, or race and ethnicity.

Internet Forums: In online forums or discussion boards on various topics, users can engage in lengthy debates. As the conversation progresses and opposing viewpoints become more intense, it’s not uncommon for someone to use an analogy related to Hitler or the Nazis to emphasize their point or discredit their opponent.

Blog Post Comment Sections: Blogs often cover a range of topics, including politics, social issues, and historical events. When readers engage in lengthy debates through the comment sections of these blog posts, Godwin’s Law often comes into play as a means to discredit opposing arguments by drawing comparisons to the extreme ideologies and actions of Hitler and the Nazis.

Godwin’s Law FAQ

1. What is Godwin’s Law?

Godwin’s Law is an internet adage asserting that as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches 1. In other words, it states that the longer an online conversation goes on, the more likely someone will bring up Hitler or the Nazis as a point of comparison.

2. Who coined Godwin’s Law?

Godwin’s Law was coined by Mike Godwin, an American attorney and author, in 1990. He created the law as a way to provoke people to think more critically about their comparisons and the potential consequences of invoking extreme examples like the Nazis or Hitler.

3. Why is Godwin’s Law significant in online discussions?

Godwin’s Law highlights the tendency of online conversations to devolve into personal attacks and extreme comparisons. By pointing out this tendency, people might become more aware of their own assumptions and restrain themselves from making hasty comparisons that can decrease the quality of the debate.

4. Can Godwin’s Law be applied to offline discussions?

While Godwin’s Law was initially created to address online discussions, it can also apply to offline conversations as well. The essence of the law, i.e., the tendency to employ extreme comparisons in arguments, is not exclusive to online interactions. Therefore, it can serve as a reminder to maintain a high standard in any form of debate or discussion.

5. Is Godwin’s Law an actual law?

No, Godwin’s Law is not a legal statute or regulation. It is an observation about human behavior during debates, particularly in the context of online discussions. It is an adage or saying that has become popular in the online world to describe this particular tendency.

Related Technology Terms

  • Internet Discussions
  • Online Debates
  • Ad Hitlerum
  • Argument Escalation
  • Reductio ad Hitlerum

Sources for More Information

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