You should know Godwin's Law in order not to fall into the trap

Identifying manipulations: Godwin's Law and similar tricks. Unfair comparisons with Nazi and ....
This will improve your assertiveness

Godwin’s Law


When attackers lack arguments, things often get dirty. Unfair comparisons, like with the Nazis, are then meant to distract. Rhetoric can also be fair, but unfortunately, it frequently is not. What does Godwin’s Law mean? And how does it relate to everyday communication, speeches and presentations?

Godwin’s Law


As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Mike Godwin



Godwin considers this desperate recourse the obvious very last attempt to win the discussion at least in sympathy by the audience. In substance, the discussion has thus already been lost.

Godwin’s Law is named after the author and lawyer Mike Godwin. He argues that the longer a discussion goes on, the more likely it is that someone will try to make a reference to the Nazi era or a comparison with Adolf Hitler. With this, he wanted to promote more objective discussions on Usenet. Usenet? The search engine you trust will help. As with Murphy’s Law, Godwin’s Law is also laced with a hint of irony. But practice often confirms the thesis in many situations.

Godwin considers this desperate recourse the obvious very last attempt to win the discussion at least in sympathy by the audience. In substance, the discussion has thus already been lost.






While Godwin’s Law was originally developed for discussions in Usenet newsgroups, the humorous rule still applies to all threaded online discussions, such as those in message boards, chat rooms, comment threads, and wikis. Since the early days of online discussions, Godwin’s Law has been used as an indicator of whether a thread is going on too long, who is playing fair and who is just throwing mud, and who is ultimately “winning” the discussion.






Mike Godwin has indicated that he does not reject comparisons to Hitler in principle, especially if they can help prevent the next Holocaust. However, he said, it is important to him that such comparisons be historically tenable. On closer examination, that is probably not the case most of the time. Comparisons are often drawn by the hair. Corresponding audiences then generate unpleasant pressure, which is just fine with the manipulators. The instrumentalized audience only pays attention to its topic and overlooks connections and consequences. A fair consideration and discussion, which actually serves the formation of opinion, has so no chance. In addition, the inflationary comparisons desensitize people, and their vigilance for actual dangers decreases.

Whether the hostility is in one’s own interest or not, insults do damage.






There are always attempts to replace viable arguments with untenable comparisons and hypocritical outrage. These attempts at manipulation are frequently not recognizable as such to uninitiated observers. Those who look closely can see how blatantly this is sometimes done. No one can seriously see it that way, can they? As if!

The risk of negative momentum is considerable nowadays due to the Internet – one way or another. Whether justified or not, when interest groups are riled up in this way, the angry mob builds up half-knowledge and a readiness to lynch, which can become tricky. Not every storm of controversy is based on facts, or at least the overall view.

Echo chambers and filter bubbles have consequences. It’s one thing with swarm intelligence, the angry mob first tar and feathers and then possibly does the fact check later.




What to do?


When it comes to speeches, presentations, important conversations and written contributions, it is important to consider the risks. Those who care about personal impact and message will be as meticulous as possible about ambiguities and potential points of irritation. Bruises can be avoided by analyzing and avoiding words and phrases that could lead to misuse.

Risks can be reduced, but unfortunately there is no such thing as absolute security. Too often, someone can be found who will sell their soul to assert their interests.

Preparation of important conversations and negotiations


Communication can be very easy. But often it is not. Sometimes we say things and then later notice from the reaction of our conversation partners that they seem to have spoken to someone completely different. I didn't say that with the best will in the world. - Or did I say that after all?

More or less consciously, conversations are about convincing other people of something - be it a special offer, your personality, a perspective, or a necessity. If this doesn't happen fast enough and above all not exactly to the point and descriptively, the person we are talking to quickly loses interest, and we lose the hoped-for opportunity. — Conversation failed.

You can let me support you in the preparation of your conversations and negotiations (to be on the safe side: no legal advice!). Find out how you and your message are perceived (arguments, body language, language, voice, and much more). I will familiarize you with effective tools and communication strategies. Develop your psychological skills, learn to stay calm, act confidently, remain authentic, and finally convince.

Just ask me personally


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: April 30, 2020
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: April 30, 2020
Translation: ./.
German version:

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