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Thread: I think Godwin's law is stupid

  1. #1
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    Default I think Godwin's law is stupid

    To be more precise, I think that the Godwin's law, as used on the Internet, is stupid.

    For those of you who lived in a cave or don't like debating (but the fact that you are among the 20 active users of this message board indicates that you actually like talking for hours with strangers on subjects for which your opinion doesn't really matter), the Godwin's law was developped... long ago.
    To sum it up, it's a theory saying that the longer a conversation is lasting, the higher is the probability that someone is going to make a Nazi analogy.

    For example, you are discussing abortion. And well... the conversation is reaching 10 pages, someone already said "more salt", and someone says, half jokingly, "I think that some people should be sterilized".

    And then someone else answers "HA ! Like Hitler was doing with mentally handicapped people !"

    The Godwin point has been reached.

    Now, on today's internet, people are using Godwin all the time. At first, it was to dismiss stupid analogies but now, it's used everytime someone mentions Hitler or nazism.

    And that's my problem. It's basically an easy way to dismiss someone's opinion eventhough their agument might be relevant and involves nazi analogy. Without any further discussion.

    And you see, that's scary because now, when you have a discussion on the Internet and some people might actually be antisemite, racist or assholes in general, and you basically call their bullshit, they invoke the Godwin point.

    That's why I hate the Godwin's law, and I think it should be forbidden to use it in a discussion.

    But then again, I'm a fascist and I want to control what everyone is saying. Obviously, my Internet should look like WWII Germany.
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    Godwin's Law is practically a fact. A hilarious fact. It doesn't necessarily invalidate any Hitler/Nazi comparisons made in any argument, it only predicts that they will eventually emerge.

    It is reminiscent of the just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean I'm wrong argument.
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    The longer a converstion lasts the more likely it is that you get a reference to ANYTHING. Cars, sports, men, women, celebrities, technology, history just choose anything. Why do you need a reference to Nazi Germany and a name for it? I haven't heard of that term btw.
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    Have you been in a discussion that have mentioned Nazi analogises, that have been closed due to that? The rule does not say anything about closing threads. It has just become a practice amongst moderators of chat rooms and forums to remove threads that have reached that point when someone uses argumentum ad Hitlerum. Of course obvious jokes should be fine, as long as it is tasteful and maybe not too far off the subject.
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  5. #5
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    Harley, you'd be right that the way it's used online is stupid. That's because originally Godwin's law was a suggested rule that required a few elements -
    • 1) a discussion or threaded argument becoming longer (developing towards infinite length)
    • 2) more statements and discussions being produced by anyone willing to access and write, the internet being generally more free of barriers and overt quality control
    • 3) the discussion itself mutating more or less productively into new developments or tangents,
    • 4) analogies used as rhetorical tools
    All of these elements being present, as the conversation wore on, the more likely it was that someone (due to lack of quality control, possibility of lowered content with increased length or participants, tangents, etc.) would make an absurd comparison with something like Hitler or the Nazis.

    I've always been under the impression that the law was meant to function as a sort of memetic quality control, embedding itself as a self-check into uses of gigantic, overblown, totalizing statements. Instead, the content of the the law has been mercilessly stripped of its context and used by itself, rendering only analogies or arguments involving Hitler and the Nazis supposedly invalid, instead of rendering analogies or arguments involving Hitler, the Nazis, or similar ludicrously pointless and hyperbolic comparisons rhetorically indefensible.

    So yeah, it appears that rather hilariously (a hilarity tinged with mild chagrin, mind you), Godwin's Law has itself sparked a discussion that:
    • 1) is developing towards infinite length
    • 2) is producing more statements and discussions by anyone willing to access and write about it, the internet being generally more free of barriers and overt quality control
    • 3) in a discussion mutating more or less (usually less) productively into new developments or tangents,
    • 4) technically allows analogies because of (2).
    So yeah, I'm about to beat you to this. Godwin's law is itself literally Hitler, creative infinite meta-Nazi loops back on itself and serving to blank out an entire subset of analogies by content rather than quality. It is the genocide of Hitler analogies.

    So there you go. My point is immediately invalid.

    Also, I just lost the game. Damn it.
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    PIB> Yes, I know that's what it's for originally.

    But it's not how it's used. It has become a meme and now, people are distributing "Godwin's points" (at least on french internet) everytime someone mentions Hitler or Nazis without even checking the validity of the argument.

    I don't like it but it's not exactly what really bothers me. What really bothers me is that it is now used by real antisemite or fascists or assholes. Caricatural example but basically what it is :
    " - Jews are leading the world nowadays. They are everywhere, on the important and strategic positions"
    " - Ah yeah, that same argument was used by nazis.
    " - GODWIN POINT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN !"

    Of course, it's usually more subtle than that.

    Jojan> I don't mean to say that it's used as a moderating rule. It's not. (at least, not where I post). It's just that it's an easy way to say to someone "what you say as no value because you used Hitler to demonstrate".

    And again that's not the law as it was theorized that bothers me. It's how it's used on the Internet.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harleyquiiinn View Post
    PIB> Yes, I know that's what it's for originally.

    But it's not how it's used. It has become a meme and now, people are distributing "Godwin's points" (at least on french internet) everytime someone mentions Hitler or Nazis without even checking the validity of the argument.

    I don't like it but it's not exactly what really bothers me. What really bothers me is that it is now used by real antisemite or fascists or assholes. Caricatural example but basically what it is :
    " - Jews are leading the world nowadays. They are everywhere, on the important and strategic positions"
    " - Ah yeah, that same argument was used by nazis.
    " - GODWIN POINT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN !"

    Of course, it's usually more subtle than that.

    Jojan> I don't mean to say that it's used as a moderating rule. It's not. (at least, not where I post). It's just that it's an easy way to say to someone "what you say as no value because you used Hitler to demonstrate".

    And again that's not the law as it was theorized that bothers me. It's how it's used on the Internet.
    I've noticed this happening more and more lately, and it bothers me, as well. I've compared what's happening in Russia regarding gays to the very early stages of Germany and Jews, and gotten "Godwin's law"ed by people who support what's happening in Russia. Just for example.
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  8. #8
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    Ah, I see.

    Well, it is quite common for people to throw out Hitler/Nazi comparisons in arguments when it is either wholly inappropriate or at best a vast exaggeration. This has probably led to people dismissing all Hitler/Nazi comparisons. I'd place the blame more on the people who will compare anyone who disagrees with them to Hitler/Nazis.

    But yeah, it is a shame, because sometimes things really do need to be compared to Hitler/Nazis. It's the easiest way to call out a potentially genocidal regime.
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