The Law of Denial and Prime Godwins; in the climate debate, the probability of conspiracy theories being invoked is one

Between work and study, I’ve taken the time to jump into a recent debate on The Conversation. The article itself is worth reading, as it discusses science education and climate change in the classroom.

Of course the moment climate change is discussed in any context sceptics begin peppering the discussion with misinformation. Like a swarm of irritating and persistent gnats, they arrive to disrupt the conversation and seed disinformation.

However it was fascinating to see one troll jump into the conversation and instantly invoke Godwin’s Law:

A good argument for home schooling! And opposing any federal ideological rubbish on climate change. The science is still undecided, fast fading from view due to a number of factors, and highly controversial. Climate change is possibly the most compromised perversion of science ever perpetrated. A parallel is the indoctrination under Nazi Germany. Almost a form of child abuse!

For those who don’t know Godwin’s Law:

Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies) is an assertion made by Mike Godwin in 1990 that has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” In other words, Godwin said that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.

Very shortly this same troll invoked not only Godwin’s Law for a second time but explicitly linked the Nazi’s with the “Green Agenda”, the IPCC and Agenda 21:

There is a lot of ignorance of the history of philosophy here. Heidegger (prominent Nazi philosopher) was one of the forerunners of the deep ecology movement and the desire to return to a romantic past. It was essentially a philosophy that longed for a return to a mythical pre-technological past, very much like that desired by the IPCC and their Agenda 21. So I’m not that far off the mark!

I think we’ve seen a variation of Godwin’s Law emerge.

And with more than a hint of self-indulgence I’m going to call it WTD’s Law (or The Deniers Law; or The Law of Denial):

In any online conversation related to climate change the probability of conspiracy theories, political/religious orthodoxy and totalitarian regimes being invoked is 1.

Sceptics will jump in and make conspiracy claims at the beginning, middle and end of the conversation. Whereas under Godwin’s Law online conversations inevitably produce a comparison to Hitler, in the climate debate one expects such claims to be made immediately and throughout the conversation.

Go have a look at any conversation on the internet regarding climate change.

I think I’m correct in this assertion.

A Prime Godwin

In discussions with some others in the same thread we decided we’d witnessed a variation of Godwin’s Law. The troll/poster instantly jumped to Hitler and the Nazi’s.

“Instant Godwin” was suggested, however I think a better term is Prime Godwin:

When your first and last argument is HITLER you are engaged in invoking a Prime Godwin.

Let me know your thoughts.

[Hat tip Felix MacNiell for helping me refine The Law of Denial. ]

32 thoughts on “The Law of Denial and Prime Godwins; in the climate debate, the probability of conspiracy theories being invoked is one

  1. john byatt says:

    They very confused about what model hindcasting actually is,

    starting the model run in 1900 and trying to forecast the future temperature rise over the 20th century, The effin model does not know that it is not forecasting, it is just doing what it is programmed to do, Forecast or projecting the future from it’s own perspective.

  2. There’s almost always one person in the comment sections of my videos who either says it’s a hoax, suggests some sort of conspiracy, equates environmentalism with nazi’s/communism/fascist regime or who says a fascist/totalitarian regime is needed to deal with our CO2 emissions. I’ve got every single one of those in this comment section…:

    Often this is accompanied with not even being able to entertain that I do not agree with those types of politics, and if I point out that some of what they say suggests a conspiracy they often get angry at me…

  3. Zibethicus says:

    In my experience, this rule doesn’t apply quite so well to a particular sub-class of Deniosaur: the ‘Engineer-who-has-disproven-AGW’ and/or the ‘Expert-Scientist-In-Another-Field-Which-They-Won’t-Specify-Or-Detail’. These specimens tend to enter the fray with tinny blasts on their own trumpets, succeeded by a heavy barrage of The Collected Works Of Lindzen, Spencer Et Al.(and usually a go at It-Hasn’t-Warmed-Since-1998). It is only if and when these are dissected and debunked that the ‘Sciosophic Deniosaur’ will resort to revealing their essential lunacy via resorting to Godwin’s Law. A special case, but worth pointing out…something like this: with the Sciosophic Deniosaur, the probability of conspiracy theories being invoked is in direct and inverse proportion to their confidence in their own ‘scientific’ arguments…

  4. john byatt says:

    Or as jo nova says, I do not believe that it is a conspiracy it is just about money for the scientists and power for the politicians,

    how reliable are models?

  5. Steve Bloom says:

    Link to the nice kitty pic? TIA.

  6. Debunker says:

    That first Skeptic Troll comment wouldn’t have been from Eric would it? I seem to recall him making a similar comment a while back. By the way, where is he? I have been travelling for a while and note that Mark has been banned, but not Eric too?

    • BBD says:

      Yes, Eric too. And for *yet again* doing that word placement thing of his with “eugenics” and “climate science”…

    • Steve says:

      How long was Eric suspended for?

      • Debunker says:

        Not sure if I agree with suspension personally, except for gross, insulting Trollery. I think it just plays into Skeptic hands so they can go back to WUWT and wear the suspension as a badge of honour.

        Besides, I find that coming up with answers to their inane trollery sharpens my arguments when discussing Climate change with general acquaintances. Sometimes I even learn something new from them and in any case, it contributes to a spirited discussion.

        • john byatt says:

          No, it was due to posting nazi and eugenic references in nearly every comment that he made, told to forget it but still persisted, never actually debates the science just incessant nazi and eugenics, derails every thread with that crap, ,

        • BBD says:

          @ Debunker

          Broadly I agree with you, but there are limits and Eric crossed the line. He continued reiterating one of the most loathsome denialist memes and all-but taunting Mike despite repeated, formal warnings. FWIW, if it had been me, he’d have gone a damn sight sooner and it would have been permanent. Hats off to Mike for patience and fairness.

      • john byatt says:

        three months by the balls

  7. Richard Smiley says:

    There IS a conspiracy involving climate change: Nobody in mainstream Canadian media will print, broadcast, or cover any articles or letters saying that the recent Alberta floods are part of changing weather patterns brought on by Global warming and it is only going to get worse. We can’t even post comments saying that on the CBC. Unless it is restricted to the insurance industry not being willing to pony up for the damage or the need to have better infrastructure. On the other side, Minister Jason Kenney, among others, also had their comments saying it had nothing to do with climate change scotched.

  8. louploup2 says:

    Ha! Here’s an article in The Economist with a 187 comment thread and not one reference to Hitler, Goebbels, Nazis, etc. Lots of other Sciosophic Deniosaur garbage, but not that.

  9. Debunker says:

    Yes, well, I have to agree; he was getting really boring with that stuff. It’s obvious he had no room for any new ideas in his head. He had already used all available neurons on junk science.

  10. Debunker says:

    Funnily enough, this is the one discussion thread I would have been interested to see his comments on, given it is about precisely that sort of trollery!

  11. The deniarsaurs are growing fonder of Freeman Dyson every day. It’s worth noting other great minds, out of their field, are often out of their depth.

  12. john byatt says:

    cloud has finally cleared in the Arctic after five weeks and the picture is not pretty,
    years are being knocked off one after the other and now heading into the realm of 2013

    • louploup2 says:

      That graph would be better (i.e., more honest) if it bottomed at 0, not at 20 million square km (assuming I’m reading left axis label correctly).

      • john byatt says:

        WTF… The Arctic ocean only covers 15 million km2 to start with so you are looking at a graph with a 2 million km2 bottom value

        We only required a graph with a 5 million Km2 bottom at the beginning of the 21st century

        wait a few years and the graph will require a zero bottom as the volume graph now has.

        • louploup2 says:

          That’s my weak math–added a zero due to misreading of “10 to the 6th power.” I think all these Arctic graphs should bottom as zero. I also think ice volume is more telling of the long term trend than surface area.

  13. […] 2013/07/05: WtD: WTD’s Law and Prime Godwins; in the climate debate, the probability of conspi… […]

  14. […] Spencer has down a Godwin and invoked the Nazis. He has also engaged in The Law of Denial: […]

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