Crackpot Theories: Godwin's Law = MOAR NAZIS!

Feb 25 | Posted by: Fighter #1 | Tags: Crackpot Theories to save the world

Godwin's Law is one of those universal rules of the Internet. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it states: "As the length of an argument on the Internet increases, the odds of someone being compared to Hitler or the Nazis approaches 1." There are all kinds of corollaries and variants, but those aren't particularly important to our purposes.

The thing is, this kind of name-calling isn't limited to online "discourse." People liken trivial political disagreements to some of the greatest crimes against humanity in recent memory all the time, regardless of proximity. Sometimes we even do it in person!

So here's my crackpot theory as to why this may be a bad thing: People don't like to be called mean things. When someone calls us something mean, like "Nazi." We have a couple defense mechanisms. We can agree with the person, apologize, and try to go along with their line of thinking. We can carefully consider the other person's opinion and analyze our own actions to see if they're right or not. Or we can dismiss them as inflammatory, ignorant, or just jerks.

Now if someone is powerful and/or important, some of those options are less viable than others. If you're running for a political office and you agree instantly with every horrible thing said about you, you probably won't get very far. "You're worse than Hitler! You should just leave." "Yeah, you're right." Campaign over.

The second option is presumably the best. If someone is right in telling you off, its a good idea to listen to them. But that option takes a lot more work than the other two.

The final option of ignoring the jerk will allow you to pursue your goals without being sidetracked by dissent. This seems like the strategy which will be most successful when it comes to advancing high-profile or controversial goals; thus, I would assume that it is the strategy adopted by most people with lofty goals and aspirations.

That's where things become problematic. A reasonable human, when presented with reasonable queries about their motives and the end results of their actions should pause and consider the opposition. However, the more often and the more arbitrarily  person is challenged, the less likely they are to give any credence to any given incidence of accusation. To put it simply, the more times you call someone a Nazi, the less likely they are to listen to you.

The less a person listens to criticism, the more likely they are to blunder into a terrible mistake.

So the moral of the story is this: be careful who you call a Nazi. Do it often enough, and the odds are good that you'll be right, and it will all be your fault!


Ya learn seomthing new everyday. It's true I guess!

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