Category Archives: Godwin’s Law

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. ]

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