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Michael Todd

Who Is Familiar with Godwin's Law?

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Variation 3.8: Comic Law, As a discussion of comic books lengthens, it will have a propensity to decline into a discussion of Batman v Superman.

This guy Godwin is pretty good.!

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Yeah, as a person who participated for three years in a local philosophy discussion group, this one is so true if sophistry is replaced with word semantics: "In any given philosophical argument, the probability of a dismissal of an argument as sophistry approaches 1."

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Then there is the opening bit from this article on climate change:

Among users of Internet chat rooms, Godwin's Law states that as any discussion grows longer, the probability of someone making a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis approaches 100%.

Meteorologists seem to have a similar law: that in discussions about mankind's effect on the weather, it is only a matter of time before someone makes a crack about believing the Earth is flat.

Ptolemy's Law, as a scientist might call it, was at work on the grounds of the London Zoo recently, where some of the world's most eminent climate experts gathered for lectures of the Royal Meteorological Society.

The victim of the inevitable quip, a television weatherman, had said that public debate on the Kyoto accord is polarized between alarmism and industry-funded skepticism, neither of which satisfy him as a professional communicator. He asked whether there might be a "middle way."

Everyone turned to get a look at this heretic. They knew what was coming.

"Sorry to be provocative," Henry Derwent, Britain's climate-change representative to the G8, replied to the weatherman. "But round Earth, flat Earth. Where's the middle way in that?"

The room came alive with chortles of agreement.

Mr. Derwent -- a politician and former investment banker, not a scientist -- meant that there is no middle way, that the "anthropogenic" or man-made nature of climate change is now established beyond all but the most frivolous skepticism, wilful blindness or complete ignorance. "The last few years have seen the elimination of hiding spaces for skeptics," he said later in an interview.

Few of the experts in his audience would have contradicted him. To them, doubting whether humans are responsible for the warming air and rising oceans, or whether we can now do anything to reverse these trends, or whether we should, or even whether Kyoto is the best of various possible approaches, is as stupid as worrying about falling off the edge of the Earth. The situation is much the same in Canada. On climate change, skepticism has become Nazism. . . .

FWIW.

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Um, the focus was supposed to be on the Godwin's Law / Flat Earth thing; I quoted as much of the article as I did to show an example of the parallel. Perhaps I should have also posted a link to our global warming thread.

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: It's just that I think that line of critique is bogus.

Criticizing non-scientists for relying on tactical, demonizing rhetoric rather than science is hardly bogus. And this is not the only time that those who espouse a minority scientific view have been lumped in with Flat-Earthers (hence my remarks in the global warming thread proper about the Intelligent Design debate -- and I say that as one who has been more of a critic than a supporter of ID).

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I'm in agreement with Mr. Derwent. It is that fundamental and clear an issue. Surely more kindness and patience could be shown, but it's time to drive a stake in the ground and move on to what's going to be done about the issue rather than continuing to play into the hands of GW deniers by doing nothing.

You are, pardon me, flat out wrong. Much of the evidence is based on faith. Faith that needs to be adjusted every time a deadline passes and the numbers are off. Reminds me of those predicting the Rapture. I'm expecting Global Cooling to come around again in five years or so, if the Schumpeter waves are symetrical.

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It so happens that a member of the Flat Earth Society is best friends with an astronaut. The Astronaut has been trying for years to convince the FES guy that the earth is round, and finally he says "look, I'll prove it to you. I'm going into orbit next week and there's room for one more. I'll take you with me." The FES guy agrees and it's all arranged, because a joke doesn't require any kind of appreciation of the reality of logistics during the setup.

Next week the FES guy and the astronaut go up into space, and once they're in orbit the astronaut points to the earth and says "see?"

The FES guy looks down and shrugs.

"I said it was flat," he said. "I never said it wasn't a circle."

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