P.Mean: Godwin's Law (created 2008-10-05).

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There is a tendency in some discussions (mostly with a political focus, but also in some with a medical focus), to invoke the name of Adolph Hitler in criticizing one's opponents or to compare one's opponents to Nazis. This is sometimes called the Reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy or the Argumentum ad Nazium fallacy.

There is also a link between this argument and Godwin's Law. Godwin's Law, according to Wikipedia, was an observation by Mike Godwin about Internet discussion groups.

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law

There is an extension of this law to an informal rule

For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.

This is not to state that such comparisons are always bad. There is a general understanding, however, that invoking Hitler and/or Naziism is usually just a cheap rhetorical device.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2010-04-01. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Category: Critical appraisal.