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78% of Reddit Threads with 1,000+ Comments Mention Nazis (curiousgnu.com)
303 points by gk1 on May 4, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 201 comments



So, is that a lot? Let’s assume a very simple model, with Reddit writers picking words from a fixed distribution, 10 words per reply, and all ‘over 1,000 comments’ threads having exactly 1000 comments.

Then, if the probability of picking ‘fried rice’ is p, the probability of ‘fried rice’ not appearing in that 1,000 comment, 10,000 word thread is

  (1-p)^10000
That apparently, is around 0.22:

  (1-p)^10000 = 0.22
Solving for p gives us

  10000 log(1-p) = log(.22)

  log(1-p) = log(.22)/10000

  1-p = exp(log(.22)/10000)

  p = 1 - exp(log(.22)/10000)
That’s about 0.000066, or 1 in 15,000.

Let’s compare that with https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=nazi&year_star....

That gives us numbers close to 0.000066, but only for the mid 1940’s. Current level is around 0.000008 or 1 in 125,000. Let’s compute how many words such a long Reddit thread needs to get at that level:

  (1-0.000008)^w = 0.22

  w log(1-0.000008) = log(0.22)

  w = log(0.22)/log(1-0.000008)
That gives me around 190.000 words. That does not seem impossible for me. If long threads on average have 2,500 comments, it is only 36 words per comment. One would have to look at the distribution of thread length and #words/comment to say more about this.

Now, let’s hope there isn’t an embarrassing error in the above computations :-)


I think it would be a better comparison to simply pick 100 other words, perhaps proper nouns like "Communist", "Stalin", "Fascist", "Mussolini", "Khmer Rouge", "Pol Pot", and etc. Do the same analysis with these, and it will tell you if Godwin's Law is telling us something unique about this particular bugbear. (I suspect it is, but haven't run the comparison myself)


Well, all those are simple regimes or dictators etc, whereas Nazi has been relegated to stand in for the ultimate evil, or as a synonym for evil itself.


Especially organized, bureaucratic, systemic, and industrialized evil.


Lawful evil


Led by a core of Chaotic Evil people. "Invade Russia!" "Exterminate the Jews!" all starts to scream CE over LE at the leadership level.


Eh, that's like almost all leaders though.

"Give me liberty or death!"

"Invade Mexico!"

"Assassinate Castro!"

"Go to the moon!"

When you're the one (at least in part) making the laws, it's hard to distinguish your decisions been between chaos and lawful.


That's the entire point of Godwin's Law.


Bernoulli trials assume events are independent. That is likely not a good assumption in this case.


It seems like a terrible assumption for this case.

Godwin's Law is largely a specific case of conversational drift (unless you start out talking about Nazis). Everyone starts out on topic, then gets more hyperbolic and distracted until you end up at some other idea, in this case Nazis.

So not only are comments in threads not independent samples, we're specifically looking at a proposition about non-independence.


He's formulating a null hypothesis - a (perhaps rejectable) alternative to the unspoken assumption in most of this thread, which is that Reddit, or perhaps comment threads in general, are disproportionately likely to include a mention of Nazis as they grow.


People don't pick words from a fixed distribution in the manner which you wrote. I scanned over 500,000 words I wrote and I never mentioned the word mentioned on the headline of this article. I'm not sure if any kind of meaningful interpretation can be made from the headline, but I think it's an interesting observation nonetheless.


People do not do that, but at least it is a model that one can improve. For example, as other commenters indicate, one can argument that occurrences within threads will be correlated (that will happen in discussions about World War Two, for example) but others indicated that "Godwin's law" occurrences may follow the model better.

In contrast, the OP just presented a bare number, implying that it was high, but without any evidence for that claim.

And yes, there's lots of room for improvement. The model is very simple, the guesses at the Reddit thread sizes are 100% guesses (how long is the average comment? What's the distribution of thread lengths? Etc), I did some serious rounding here and there, trusted Google to do the math right (it is not that hard, but IEEE may be insufficient to get results that are somewhat correct, and I don't know what Google does), etc.

As to your "I never wrote nasi goreng in 500,000 words" argument: let's take my simple/flawed model. It predicts

  (1-1/125000)^500000 ~= 0.018
as the probability that 500,000 words do not contain "taboo". So, that simple/rough/flawed model predicts that, out of 1000 people writing 500,000 words, 18 wouldn't mention "Voldemort". You could easily be one of them. It's about as likely as somebody flipping 6 heads in a row. So, I don't think that single data point invalidates the model (no, I haven't done the proper statistics)


> I scanned over 500,000 words I wrote and I never mentioned the word mentioned on the headline of this article.

Funny how you're trying to avoid breaking your streak of not mentioning nazis.


Yep, a little joke.


He meant "reddit"


Where did you get that the probability of a thousand word comment not containing the fried rice is 0.22?


"Fried rice" is a standin for nazis/Hitler, so 1-0.78=0.22.


> 190.000 words

The average TV vocabulary is 2,000 words. High school graduates average a 10,000 word vocabulary, college graduates 30,000, and there are over a million words in the English language. Hence having 190,000 distinct words in a reddit thread seems implausible.


They needn't be distinct. Writing is random selection with replacement.


Nazi is an easy shorthand for evil. You don't need to show a Nazi kicking a puppy to say the Nazi is evil, because they're already a Nazi! We get it.

The downside of this shorthand is that it dumbs down conversation. The Nazi-accuser shunts the Nazi-accused into a digestible category that needn't be historically comparable at all to be rhetorically effective, and the accused has less incentive to cordially communicate when it is clear that they are not being taken seriously, so either reasonable people leave or inflammatory folks troll, and we're all worse off.


At the same time, not all Nazi analogies are equally wrong- it's fallacious to claim that moustaches are evil because Nazis had them; it isn't exactly fallacious to claim that persecuting and demonizing a minority combined with enthusiastic nationalism through slowly increasing propaganda campaigns under the leadership of a charismatic leader should seem at least slightly worrying because we have Nazis as a historical example. The Nazis and the 30s and 40s can present real historical lessons- another is that in the 30s, the German Communist party declared "After him, us!" in response to Hitler's rise and their refusal to cooperate with the socialists, with the reasoning being that his disastrous short term would hasten about a communist revolution. Unfortunately, we often see the exact same argument used by both socialists and some of the more extreme Bernie Sanders fans today with regards to Trump. There are historical lessons and analogies in the past which can be genuinely useful to understanding the present. At this rate, it feels like if 1930s Germany had Godwin's law, it would have been used to quash any dissent about the actual rise of Nazism.


You're right. Too right. The Nazis are a rightfully perfect metaphor for these times and many others.

But there are always exceptions. Nobody is wheelbarrowing carts of Deutschmarks to buy a loaf of bread. Race (and the idea of inherent superiority/inferiority) is viewed much differently, in fact until the 70s it was generally accepted that Neanderthals became whites, Homo Erectus became Asians, and so on. And if the post-Cold War era has taught us anything, there is no "End of History" where humanity converges along the One True Path.

No analogy is perfect. American slaves had little relation to Roman slaves aside from being owned people. Too much has changed since the 30s to be an exact repeat.


Nobody is wheelbarrowing carts of Deutschmarks to buy a loaf of bread. Race (and the idea of inherent superiority/inferiority) is viewed much differently

But that's almost never the specific argument of people who fall into the mistake of "Nazi" as analogy. In fact, many people use these overly-specific points as a fallacious straw-man rebuttal. Often, the specific, functional points are complaints of:

   - stereotyping of a group
   - quick and prejudicial characterization of a person as member of the group
   - certain moral/ethical positions irrationally ascribed to the group
   - said group being demonized with lurid, emotional language
   - actions by a number of persons against a perceived member of the group
   - use of exclusionary, inflammatory, and violent tactics against the same
MLK and Gandhi carefully and very specifically structured their movements to account for people falling into such patterns of behavior and besmirching their causes. We are all subject to such mental patterns, and they require specific mental effort to combat. In particular, they were aware that people engaged in activism are especially vulnerable to these phenomena. Society and rational thought would be greatly helped by a language and cognitive tools to calmly think and speak about such phenomena.


> MLK and Gandhi carefully and very specifically structured their movements to account for people falling into such patterns of behavior and besmirching their causes.

I don't know enough of that history to know specifically what you're referring to, could you elaborate further on this point?


Short version: MLK and Gandhi soufht to make peace and unite with their opponents, not attack and destroy them.


It's quite unfortunate that many forget the Nazis in their early days were effectively activists organizing themselves into a political party. Maybe someone needs to write an article outlining historical groups who are good functional analogues and who aren't the Nazis?


Well, it's not like they were organizing for a living wage and then decided, "Heck, let's burn the Reichstag and kill us some rootless cosmopolitans!" The rise of the Nazi party is basically intertwined with the right-wing militia politics of the mercenary freikorps that dominated the Weimar era. They started as a one of many bands of violent, murderous thugs and ended as the biggest, baddest band of violent, murderous thugs.


They started as a one of many bands of violent, murderous thugs and ended as the biggest, baddest band of violent, murderous thugs.

I guess it's progress in a way, now we only have "the biggest, baddest band of social media emotional abuse mobs." I'm not entirely sure the situation isn't merely physically safer but emotionally just as shitty. And I'm not so sure the mental states involved won't eventually cause a change in the physical safety part.


Kind of sort of, but at the same time they were also former soldiers, who thought they'd been forced to surrender when they still had a chance of winning, who organized themselves into a political party.


Kind of sort of

Any group that sets itself apart and has a burning collective desire to change things is waking the same psychological mechanisms. So is cheering for sports teams. We're a bit more savvy as a culture about harnessing and controlling that in the case of sports. Yet, look at some of the stupid stuff ports fans still can get up to. Just look at history, and it's quite apparent that politics awakens the exact same tendencies, but without the same cultural/societal checks. Hell, just listen to what people say and observe how they start to prejudge and target each other based on surface-level signals.


There are certainly collective behaviour instincts that can kick in with groups and which can be manipulated to cause people to run amok, but it's not any group by any means.

Take for example the English Society of Friends (Quakers), and their burning collective desire to stop the Slave Trade. (& for prison reform, but that was arguably self-interest because they kept ending up in them.)

So perhaps the more interesting question is still which groups and why.


Thanks, but I was hoping for the long version :)


The same could be said of terms like "racist", "liberal" and "conservative". There's no Godwins law for these.

Tribal-labelling is rife. Banning mention of the Nazis, as opposed to labelling (as "Nazis" or otherwise), has more effect that excluding the above list.

I'd also have doubts with regards to the terms: "many people", "Often" and "especially vulnerable". Is it possible that use of these weasel terms is in itself stereotyping?


It's possible. There's psychological research that suggests people behave in certain ways in groups. There's literally thousands of years of observations about human behavior that supports these notions as well.

> I'd also have doubts with regards to the terms: "many people", "Often" and "especially vulnerable". Is it possible that use of these weasel terms is in itself stereotyping?

Curious. Are you using "stereotyping" in the same category as "sin?" I'm referring to it as a particular cognitive pattern that has certain epistemological problems. People who organize themselves in groups, deliberately set apart in matters of thought and ideology are especially vulnerable to certain forms of group-think. Being emotionally invested in a particular group -- such that you think the inherent justice of its cause makes it exceptional -- is a key symptom.

The evidence against the exceptionalism of a particular group range all of history, and the structure is much the same as certain arguments against religion. Just as there have been so many different "one true" gods and so many different "one true" religions, there have been many, many exceptional "justified" causes. Often as not, they are arguably actually justified in some way as well. Often as not, these causes grow to become the next oppressors. History is full of examples.


> is viewed much differently, in fact until the 70s it was generally accepted that Neanderthals became whites, Homo Erectus became Asians, and so on

Nope.

Multi-regional descent was a theory first proposed in 1984, and of a relatively brief lifespan. Before that monogenism was the prevailing theory. Multi-regional ascent was never the pre-eminent theory.

Now we know we're all mostly descended from h.sapiens, with some minute neanderthal and denisovan admixture.

However, the split between different branches of mankind dates as back as 300 kya. (To put that in perspective, brown and polar bears diverged approximately 500 kya)


Unfortunately, we often see the exact same argument used by both socialists and some of the more extreme Bernie Sanders fans today with regards to Trump.

Why do you consider this unfortunate?

First of all it is not just those groups. Are you aware that the same comparison has been made by Holocaust survivors like Anne Frank's step-sister, national leaders such as the president of Mexico, and prominent conservatives like Glenn Beck? It isn't just a few socialists who are concerned.

That said, it would be unfortunate if the assertion had no basis in reality.

But does it? According to political scientists, the one trait that is most likely to predict you supporting Trump is how much you tend towards authoritarianism. This is why extremely authoritarian groups such as the KKK and neo-nazis have come out in support of Trump. Extreme authoritarianism certainly matches Hitler.

Next there is the question of truthfulness. According to Politifact, over 2/3 of Trump's public statements are lies. In fact he's more likely to issue "pants on fire" lies than to say something that is true or mostly true. (See http://www.politifact.com/personalities/donald-trump/ for a source.) Furthermore when he lies and is challenged on it, he shows no regard for the truth. Instead he repeats his lies over and over again, very forcefully. This "Big Lie" technique was a classic trademark of Hitler's.

What else is characteristic of Hitler? Extreme nationalism! Do I need to enumerate instances?

How about war mongering? Oh boy. So far Trump has promised to bomb North Korea, Syria and Isis. He has also suggested bombing Iraq and starting a trade war with Mexico to get them to pay for the wall he wants.

What about mass deportion? Hitler promised to deport the Jews, then killed them when nobody else wanted to take them. Trump promises to deport about 11 million people from the USA. How do you think that will work in practice?

You apparently think that Trump/Hitler comparisons are unfortunate. I consider it a quick way of identifying all of the characteristics that Trump has which make me afraid of the possibility of his being President.


Article refuting the authoritarian correlation: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/03/0...

Trump's foreign policy speech: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-... "I will not hesitate to deploy military force when there is no alternative. But if America fights, it must fight to win. I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary – and will only do so if we have a plan for victory ... Our friends and enemies must know that if I draw a line in the sand, I will enforce it. However, unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are signs of strength ... I was totally against the War in Iraq ... The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies, that we are always happy when old enemies become friends, and when old friends become allies." Trump and Sanders are the most isolationist, and least "war mongering" candidates.

    What about mass deportion? Hitler promised to deport the Jews, then killed them when nobody else wanted to take them.
    Trump promises to deport about 11 million people from the USA. How do you think that will work in practice?
Not even sure how to respond to this. No matter what, the illegal immigrants won't be deported, because they have the American right to due process, and 12 million court cases will take a while to get through. If you think Trump will systematically execute them, please explain how you envisage that happening. Illegal immigration currently costs American taxpayers between 88 and 100 billion dollars per year and many people are upset about that. Those people are not Nazis.

Finally, Hitler was a socialist who campaigned for universal health care and unemployment insurance, increased education spending, the plunder of a traditionally wealthy class of society, and economic protectionism.

If that reminds you of anyone, please consider that drawing parallels to Nazi Germany is not always meaningful or conclusive.


The original research had a list of traits for authoritarianism. Your article splits the same group into two, authoritarians and populists. OK, so Trump supporters are on the populist side of that split..and within the original research's definition of authoritarians.

More to the point, everything worrying about the tendency is worrying about BOTH authoritarians AND populists.

On Trump's foreign policy speech, note that his claim to have been publicly against the Iraq War is false. See http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/... for verification. Furthermore everyone that I said he said he would bomb he HAS in fact said he would bomb.

That he expressed the sentiment of being a peaceful sort who does not intend to start fights, well of course he would. You can find many similar statements from dictators like Hitler. Don't look at his statements about how he wants you to think he'll act. Instead look at how quickly he suggests violence whether it is against countries (I'd bomb North Korea) or individual people (I'd like to to punch him in the face).

On mass deportation, you're right that it will be a mess. However the attempt to deport them is going to get ugly.

On Hitler's domestic policies, you are of course drawing parallels to Bernie Sanders. However the parallels continue to Trump. Trump is publicly for universal health care, unemployment insurance, and economic protectionism.

You are right that drawing parallels to Nazi Germany is not always meaningful or conclusive. BUT it is not always meaningless or irrelevant either.


> Illegal immigration costs American taxpayers between 88 and 100 billion dollars

It seems to me they're the ones doing a lot of the manual labor in this country. Does that account for the rental income they pay to landlords that in turn pay property taxes? How about sales taxes? Or taxes paid using fake or shared social security numbers?

I know some people that may have been illegal or visa overstays at some point who eventually became citizens. Their economic activity didn't change much and their children are heading to UC colleges. That doesn't seem like a burden to me. Interesting too that the states with the most illegal immigrants are the largest in terms of GDP.

And by the way, the majority of immigrants from south of the border are Christians just looking for work and a better life; if that's worth anything to you. It's a shame that there are people that think building a wall is going to solve their problems. It won't.


> Does that account for the rental income they pay to landlords that in turn pay property taxes? How about sales taxes? Or taxes paid using fake or shared social security numbers?

Yes. Total federal receipts, including income, social security, and employer taxes total 9 billion. State and local taxes, including property and sales taxes total 4 billion.

http://www.fairus.org/publications/the-fiscal-burden-of-ille...

By the way, the implication that I am simply prejudiced against the immigrants is not well received. There is a measurable economic burden, on the order of $1,000 per American household. Please do not make such accusations.


You're wrong that illegal immigrants are a burden. You say that you don't like the implication of being prejudiced but you use a source designated as a hate group by SPLC[1]

Illegal immigrants do not qualify for the majority of social services.

"The amount that state and local governments spend on services for unauthorized immigrants represents a small percentage of the total amount spent by those governments to provide such services to residents in their jurisdictions"[2]

So, illegal immigrants do hard manual labor for little pay and zero or close to zero benefits and you come along and try to convince people of the opposite. What do you call that if not prejudiced? Were you just misinformed?

Also, here is a map of US ancestry and I think it's relevant because it makes it clear that almost all Americans have foreign ancestry, including you.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federation_for_American_Immigr...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_impact_of_illegal_imm...

[3] http://i.imgur.com/OMflDfl.jpg


The "hate group" label from the SPLC has been reduced to a label used for any right wing or socially conservative organization. Ben Carson and the Family Research Council have both been labeled as hate groups, when neither have promoted hatred in an organized manner.

Here is a paper published by the Congressional Budget Office: https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/110th-congress-2007-...

It is a meta-analysis of this type of study, and although they do not draw a conclusion, the numbers reported are in line with the FAIR article.

Finally, I am still frustrated by the implication of your final remark. I am proud of the American immigrant heritage, and am in full support of legal immigration. Not only that, but this is exactly the type of accusation that started the debate in the parent - you are convinced that I am racist against foreigners, that I will be ashamed if you bring up my foreign ancestry, when this could not be further from the truth, and only serves to simplify my position so that it can be dismissed more easily.

Good day, sir.


No where does it say illegal immigrants are a $1000+ per household burden. And none of the studies are even remotely in line with your original source. The CBO report shows that in most studies illegal immigrants pay more in taxes than what they receive in benefits. Other studies show that to be slightly less with some variance. However many of those studies make arbitrary assumptions on tax compliance and may not account for related economic activity.

Your wanton misrepresentation of facts makes for a very poor case against your prejudice and for your claim of benevolence towards immigrants.


The burden is on you to prove prejudice or benevolence. As it would require more than a little insight into motivation, I can't see how you could meet the burden.

I also think the (unwarranted) is targeted enough to break HN rules.


I never made either claim. I do, however, question the motivation of others when they make egregiously false claims. It's a natural response for those who think for themselves.


Openly questioning something slanderous you have no interest in backing up?

What does "for those who think for themselves" mean?


Slander is a legal definition and I'd advise you to use it carefully.


No it isn't, it's a word. It exists outside the law.


Find something better to do with your time.


Ironic statement. You aren't even contributing to this thread, and now, having run out of anything to say, resort to passive-aggression.


For the love of Christ, Chris2048. I've spoken to rjeli outside of HN where he admitted his post was 'BS.' We both decided we'd rather not waste our time on frivolous argument on largely arbitrary metrics. Why you decided to interject is completely beyond me. You weren't part of the original discussion and you've consistently failed to produce a relevant polemic. You're just sullying comment threads. Knock it off.


You misunderstood me, I agree with you- I meant it is unfortunate that some (very rare, very odd) Bernie Sanders supporters may vote for Trump over Hillary, with their rationale being that Trump will be a disaster, and strong liberals will dominate the next election, while this is similar to how many Germans thought before Hitler's own rise to power.


The person you replied to was talking about the unfortunate situation of some communists and socialists supporting Hitler over the respective competing party. It's analogous to Bernie supporters saying they'd vote Trump over Hillary or vice versa.


They didn't support him. They basically made the statement that Hitler would mess things up badly enough for voters to turn away, and that they would get their chance then.

As it happens, they might have been close to getting it right, but they underestimated just how ruthless and exploitative Hitler would be. If it wasn't for the way the Reichstagsfire was exploited and followed up with using lies and coercion to line up the other parties save the social democrats (the communists that had not been arrested following the Reichtagsfire were prevented from taking their seats) to vote for the Enabling Act, the NSDAP would very possibly have slid back into obscurity - they never got close to a majority on their own, and their support in polls were showing signs of decline by the time the Enabling Act gave Hitler dictatorial powers.


> the German Communist party declared "After him, us!"

They were kind of prophetic about that.


Do you happen to have a source for the "After him, us!" quote? I can't seem to find it, at least not literally. Googling for that phrase and 'german' gives me this thread.


Here's some of what I've been able to find.

"Social fascism"[0]

"After Hitler, Our Turn!"[1]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_fascism

[1]: https://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/world/ch12....


Good job sneaking in a comparison of Trump to the Nazis without a shred of supporting argument. I'm no Trump fan but the comparisons to Hitler are totally unwarranted.

Take his most controversial proposal. Deporting 11 million people--who don't have the right to be here in the first place--is bad policy and callous, but it's fair.

There's plenty of examples of populist nationalist leaders hurting their countries, like Berlusconi in Italy. No need to raise the false specter of concentration camps, mass murder, and totalitarianism.


He also proposed banning all Muslims from entering the US, and tagging and tracking all curent Muslim residents.


These political arguments never seem to go well, but anyways...

I'd love to see a source/quote on that. From the news that I saw (actually digging into the details), Trump said something like "Until we have the proper means to screen Muslims for security risk, I propose we put a (temporary) halt to letting them immigrate." This was in direct response to the attacks in France.

Now, for a lot of people, that's still an offensive proposal, but it's not the same as "lets ban all Muslims (forever)".

What I think is interesting about Trump's appeal is that he doesn't filter what he says. A seasoned politician would say "I'm committed to securing this country against terrorist threats", then they put a ton of Muslims on no-fly lists and you kind of get the same thing. But it doesn't look as bad.

I get the sense a lot of people, when they listen to Trump, think "At least he doesn't offer watered down drivel like most politicians".


First of all, the whole idea of some kind of special screening process for Muslims is already discriminatory, and quite possibly unconstitutional in itself.

Second, it's patently obvious that no brilliant new techniques for screening out terrorists are magically going to materialize all of a sudden, so that the "temporary" ban would become effectively permanent.


The US government has essentially zero legal obligation to admit non-residents into the country. The law can and does discriminate against travelers and prospective immigrants based on country of origin, for example. Entry into the United States for foreigners is a privilege, not a right.

That said, a blanket ban on Muslims entering is a brain-dead idea. But I see no good reason why the United States shouldn't consider all information when deciding how to allocate its limited resources for additional screening.


As to your first point, the US government is bound by the constition, and legal opinion is split as to the constitutionality of a ban on all Muslims. http://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-LB-52706

As to the second point, whether or not someone is a Muslim gives you essentially zero information as to whether or not they are a terrorist. (Trivially, it makes them more likely to be an Islamic terrorist, just as Hindus are more likely than non-Hindus to be Hindu terrorists. But since such a miniscule fraction of Muslims are terrorists, applying additional screening to Muslims would make no difference.)


No need to raise the false specter of concentration camps, mass murder, and totalitarianism.

For one thing, only item #1 is alarming enough. Anyone who advocates concentration camps does deserve at least a raised eyebrow. Second: logistically, how in the world do you deport 11 million people without ending up with concentration camps? If you do this at any speed faster than "glacial," you will effectively get concentration camps.


Well, Europe is choke-full with concentration camps for immigrants to be detained and then approved or deported -- while few would call its leaders Nazis:

http://en.closethecamps.org/

And Roosevelt and Truman had Japanese Americans thrown in concentration camps and nobody called them a "Nazi" (the latter also had 250,000 men, women and children obliterated in a combined unneeded weapon test/show of power, but I digress).


Well, Europe is choke-full with concentration camps for immigrants to be detained and then approved or deported -- while few would call its leaders Nazis

It's one thing to have such things forced upon you by circumstance. It's quite another thing to actively create the circumstance, especially when the majority of people who would wind up in them are basically ordinary people trying to get by.

And Roosevelt and Truman had Japanese Americans thrown in concentration camps and nobody called them a "Nazi"

Comparisons have been made, and I think those are useful exercises of awareness.

The fact that there's this knee-jerk reaction that effectively short circuits rational analysis of historical fact is detrimental to learning from history. Nazis, "The Greatest Generation," rank and file Japanese soldiery -- all of the above are human beings placed in particular situations. We need to learn from history to prevent such circumstances from happening again, and be able to think clearly about the same social, economic, and psychological mechanisms at play in today's world.

There are no demons in history. There are only human beings and natural circumstances. The only demons in history are those we imagine, as our minds still inhabit a "demon filled world." This is part of what we refer to as "waking up from history."


>It's one thing to have such things forced upon you by circumstance. It's quite another thing to actively create the circumstance, especially when the majority of people who would wind up in them are basically ordinary people trying to get by.

Well, the same European leaders helped create the circumstance too, by playing both sides, selling arms, and undermining the stable government that resulted in the refugee crisis in the first place (in their never ending interventionist plots for control of the area and/or cheap oil).

And, one could say refugees are just as "ordinary people trying to get by" as illegal Mexican immigrants (or even more so, since they also flee a war).


Well, the same European leaders helped create the circumstance too, by playing both sides, selling arms, and undermining the stable government that resulted in the refugee crisis in the first place (in their never ending interventionist plots for control of the area and/or cheap oil).

The US is guilty of much the same thing. Depending on how directly affected one is, this is taken as pretty egregious. Some are angry enough about analogous US activities, they will take lives over it.

And, one could say refugees are just as "ordinary people trying to get by" as illegal Mexican immigrants (or even more so, since they also flee a war).

On this, we're agreed.

To restate my point: It's one thing to have concentration camps as a necessity because of wars happening. It's another thing to bring them about in a nation at peace, when no one's life is at risk and just because the letter of the law isn't being obeyed. No sane person would displace 11 million people unless something as bad a war is happening.


"the false specter of concentration camps"

Because this is a civilized justice system reacting to people whose only crime is to be residing in a place or working without proper authorization: https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AW395_Arzimm_G...

Don't get me wrong, I know we are not at the 'trains full people taken to be burned at the ovens' stage. But you know what Trump calls the picture above? He calls it being too soft on immigration...

He is running in a xenophobic platform, in which he tells a largely uneducated frustrated majority that all their problems derive from a few already underpriviledged minority groups in their country, and that the correct response is electing a tough leader that will make those minorities pay and restore the country to imagined past glories. How on earth is a comparison to Nazi Germany or Mussolini's Italy not an appropriate analogy here?


> I know we are not at the 'trains full people taken to be burned at the ovens' stage

This implies that there is a natural progression from holding/detailing immigrants, to mass murder. Is that what you are saying? That it's a slippery slope?


>Because this is a civilized justice system reacting to people whose only crime is to be residing in a place or working without proper authorization https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/P1-AW395_Arzimm_G...

Are you arguing that it's morally wrong to deport people who are in a country illegally? How else do you enforce the law? Should I just be able to waltz into any country and have the right to stay forever? And of course deporting someone requires temporary detention.

Obama has deported over a million people during his presidency. Where's the indignation for that?

>Don't get me wrong, I know we are not at the 'trains full people taken to be burned at the ovens' stage. But you know what Trump calls the picture above? He calls it being too soft on immigration...

Now you're just making this stuff up.


The Nazis in the '30s weren't talking about concentration camps and mass murder either, and fascism was fairly new and didn't have the negative connotations to totalitarianism that it has today. The Nazis in the '30s were about demonising and driving out the Jews so that the money and jobs would go to 'proper Germans', and weren't exactly shouting their plans to mass-murder minorities halfway through an upcoming war.

> bad policy and callous, but it's fair.

A lot of people disagree that it's fair, from both moral and economic standpoints.


That's just not true. Hitler openly advocated for the extermination of the Jews for years before the Nazis' rise to power.


Nazi is an easy shorthand for evil.

It's often that, but it's often not only that. It's often a shorthand for extreme political ideology leading to authoritarianism. It's a shorthand for a particular affective/mental state groups of people can enter into. (1) The country that became Nazi Germany was highly educated, western, democratic, and industrialized. Germans are ordinary people, just like you and me. There is nothing peculiar or special or demonizing about them, or Russians or Chinese or Cambodians or Americans or any other group containing members who have enacted mass killings and genocide.

Our species' brain is wired to enable us gang-up together, feel solidarity, and take action against other groups. The way this happens fits certain functional objective patterns of behavior, and Nazis are a very prominent mental "attractor." Unfortunately, "Nazi" has such a strong emotional connotation, it renders rational thought about such group dynamics difficult in any public communications medium.

The Nazi-accuser shunts the Nazi-accused into a digestible category that needn't be historically comparable at all to be rhetorically effective

It's also often used to talk about attributes and events that are historically comparable to the activities of the Nazi party in its early, obscure days, before it had political power. The same group dynamics that applies to them, applies to other groups of people all throughout history. Unfortunately, the comparison it has such strong emotional connotations, the irrational feelings drown out useful rational discussion.

From what I've seen, invocations of "Godwin's Law" are often used by people who are subject to the beginnings of the same group-dynamic negative-affective death spiral -- precisely to shut down discussion of the phenomena they are subject to. This culture sorely needs a way to calmly and meaningfully discuss such group-dynamics. If society was 1/10th as savvy about group dynamics as it is savvy about the cognitive bias caused by love and sexual desire, we'd be vastly more advanced.

(1) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11630275


You make a great argument, but I fear that until we have no global population of have-nots, even an educated society can fall victim to manipulatiors who need not believe their own rhetoric.

I doubt Trump truly believes what he says about Mexicans and Muslims, but he sees clearly that they are effective scapegoats, and frustrated people are easy to placate with blame on someone else.


Trump is brash and crude (part of his appeal) but if you listen to him he's always talking about illegal vs. legal. He's said very supportive things about legal immigrants from wherever they come. He does avoid nuanced language when talking about illegals.

If you read his book you know that his mode of getting what he wants is to start from an almost preposterously extreme position, then negotiate. That way he can "give up" things he didn't really want to begin with.

He thinks in terms of deals. Whatever is said before the final deal is signed is just hot air. It's forgotten as soon as the ink dries.


You make a great argument, but I fear that until we have no global population of have-nots, even an educated society can fall victim to manipulatiors who need not believe their own rhetoric.

The key point to keep in mind, is that such mental phenomena underlie all widespread forms of social injustice. I think people who sincerely believe their own rhetoric aren't just as vulnerable. They are significantly more so.

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis


Lewis knew nothing of the power of global systems and automation, highly efficient at maintaining exploitation.


Here, Lewis is speaking directly to internal psychological shortcomings and self awareness. The efficiency of "the enemy" is irrelevant. Here's another lesson of history -- Any ideology that heavily relies on the awfulness of an enemy to justify its own actions -- These should be highly suspect.


It's also a humorous reference to anyone seen as rigidly authoritarian. Where I work we have the neighborhood parking nazis who ticket cars without parking permits. We have the expense nazis who review our expense reimbursement request. Etc.


"The Soup Nazi", for example,


Phrases like this could be inflating the original author's numbers from Reddit.

Kind of like how people used to grep the Linux kernel for cuss words. Many of the matches came from drivers for Matsushita CD-ROMs, etc.


>If society was 1/10th as savvy about group dynamics as it is savvy about the cognitive bias caused by love and sexual desire, we'd be vastly more advanced.

I believe that all the troubles with "harrasment" in online communities is about group dynamics. Its when one group encounters another and identifies them as other (and not similar).

Reddit also shows it too - but has a "No brigading" rule - they know that groups attack other groups and has a rule in place.

Twitter is a better example - the controls are more about the individual and not the group - about individual behaviour on the platform - but the groups are there and very strong. For example, people may identify with the pro-Smith presidential campaign and bump up against people who are pro-Baker. The intersections where groups meet occur all the time in twitter but actual explicit grouping is almost impossible.

I'm thinking of a kind of new service where people can assign themselves to groups both physical and virtual. And can assign others to groups too.

More visibility of groups should be a good thing, I think. I imagine for example that bystanders to pro presidential groups arguing would be able to label this as an inter-group interaction and be able to filter this out perhaps. Or I imagine that simply knowing that that attack from left field about some subject was due to the attackers belonging to a group and being able to understand that ideology. I'm being naive here, of course. What I want to happen is to increase the understanding of group dynamics in people to reduce undue suffering.

To see ones own groups as being flexible and to see what ideas come from ones own groups and then seeing other people in their groups and seeing the same for them.


I think you're right, but one could also argue that such "gang-up together, feel solidarity, and take action against" behavior is natural to humans. It is in war that the greatest technological advances take place, and it is in solidarity that societies flourish. Is that better or worse for the human species in the long term?


Everyone in this conversation should read William James' 1910 essay, "The Moral Equivalent of War" -- one copy's at http://www.constitution.org/wj/meow.htm . His candid description of the militarist position is appalling; but he makes a case that martial effort and self-sacrifice are good in themselves, but should be mobilized for purposes a bit nobler than killing one's neighbors and taking their stuff.

The Peace Corps, the old Civil Conservation Corps, and the like were and are a partial expression of what he hoped for; but it would be good to see this go further. War is more harmful than beneficial on balance (read up on WWI, especially, and the way in which Western civilization was coming apart at the seams by the end); collective self-defense is of course necessary, but we should seek better ways of gaining these benefits.

(Solidarity against entropy, perhaps? That would be doubly interesting since fighting entropy is both a good thing and a lost cause...)


It might be that the best option is perpetual war against an ineffectual enemy. If you have an enemy that you can absolutely keep in check, and periodically have to fight without much loss to yourself, then you can achieve solidarity and a militaristic spirit without causing too much harm to your own people.

I'm thinking the Israelis vs the Palestinians, for example. If Israel can keep Palestinians as a perpetual enemy, given the much smaller power of the Palestinians, a limited perpetual war will keep the Israeli people ever-united without bringing them much harm. All the benefits of war without downside.


You're forgetting one important downside: the Israel-Palestine stuff kills a lot of innocent people. The whole point of James' idea is getting cohesion and self-sacrifice _without_ taking innocent lives or leaving people to live in misery...


I think you mean the Jordanians vs Palestinians, propping up a remote group to fight a proxy war against an invented enemy to avoid taking damage at home.


That's what Edward Bernays did, after discovering the galvanizing effect of war on the human spirit. Except he strove to recreate that same effect in peacetime by turning active citizens into passive consumers who fight each other for superiority from the products they buy, instead of conquering lands.


I can't tell if you're praising his effort or condemning it; but I'd point out that that sort of conflict is a Hobbesian warre of all against all, in which cohesion and self-sacrifice are impossible -- which is what both James and the pre-WWI militarists were afraid of.


I'd point out that that sort of conflict is a Hobbesian warre of all against all

The current structure of social media seems to incentivize people separating into isolated walled camps while demonizing the other groups and figuratively throwing rocks.


That's certainly true, but I think that this reflects the extent to which the US is divided into warring tribes -- and so isn't in Bernays' consumption-only state of affairs.


The fact that Bernays couldn't imagine the particulars of social media makes his analysis suspect.


such "gang-up together, feel solidarity, and take action against" behavior is natural to humans

That is precisely what I am saying.

It is in war that the greatest technological advances take place, and it is in solidarity that societies flourish.

It is a bad idea to put people into "war mode" when they should be rationally debating and voting.


Better, if we work together by indefinitely sustaining a war against an artificial intelligence or extraterrestrial invader. Otherwise we will run out of enemies or die in the process.

That or 1984.


Isn't this the villain's idea in Watchmen?


Otherwise we will run out of enemies

I'm sure the capacity for people to imagine ill of our fellow human beings is inexhaustible.


Also shows how much of an echo chamber it is. You cannot accuse someone of being a Nazi and get upvoted if people aren't already on your side.


It's also a shorthand for "I'm going to nitpick your grammar but I don't want to be downvoted into oblivion so I will call myself a grammar nazi".

I'd be curious about a breakdown of usage in the instances of nazis being mentioned... I wonder if many of these usages are actually referencing the German National Socialist party of the 1930s/1940s.


The problem with that analysis is that you're expecting quality conversation from threads with 1000+ comments in which comment threads themselves are largely insulated from each other. There are very rarely reference to another comment thread within the same post, which leads to isolation and localized groupthink.

Generally speaking, threads of that size imply that they are posted on a very popular public subreddit, which requires no special qualifications to post in. Invariably this leads to at least _some_ comment threads being low quality.

I would not be surprised if the majority of such highly commented posts contained isolated comment threads with racist remarks.


It's not a recent thing either. Before nazis it was the pharaohs.


Interesting, but I'm a bit disappointed the author didn't at least try to filter out things like "grammar nazi" or, as might be found in r/seinfeld, "soup nazi".


Yeah, or "I did nazi that coming", the bigger the thread the more memes are in it.


Ctrl-F "nazi that"... yep.

I don't think we can draw any conclusions from this beyond the fact that the Reddit hive mind thinks Godwin's law is hilarious and mentions Hitler at every opportunity.


Right; I'd guess that at least half of the 'nazi' mentions are actually lame puns.


> In this post, I’ll only try to find out how many Reddit comments mention Nazis or Hitler and ignore the context in which they are made.


Did you think the person posting didn't see this text? He is commenting directly on this choice.


He may have skimmed the text and missed it. His comment does not imply that he read the sentence I quote.


I read the sentence you quoted.


How do I know that, sorry? Let's not spam the thread.


Sure but is there really a big difference between these sentences:

"And in the end anyone who feels like that reminds me of the Nazi's"

"The Nazis did that and you see what happened to them"

"The way he makes comments it's like he's a grammar nazi"


> Sure but is there really a big difference between these sentences:

Yes.


...and what about words which contain the string "...nazi...", such as "Ashkenazim"? They don't seem to give the exact query, that I could see.


I'd imagine Ashkenazim doesn't turn up often enough to be statistically significant.


It's interesting that the highest non-history subreddit is /r/european, which is a neo-nazi forum. Cool dataset at least.


it's also interesting that r/socialism , r/anarchism , r/gamerghazi which are respectively socialist , anarchist and anti-gamergate forums are on the top of the list.


Well, from my experience hanging around in leftist subreddits, I can say there's an awful lot of loud and repeated objection to the Reddit admins harboring neo-nazi fora such as the aforementioned /r/european. Whether the admins allowing that speech is virtuous or villainous is a different debate, but the leftist subs routinely criticize Reddit the company for harboring actual Nazis.


>/r/european, which is a neo-nazi forum

That's not an accurate characterization.

There is an element of that, but it is frequently pushed back against.

It's mostly people who are dismayed by this recent migrant madness and the resultant massive spike in horrible crimes.

It is ostensibly also just a place for discussion of european culture but attention to the migrant madness, and seeking political solutions for it dominates the conversation because the issue is so heavily censored elsewhere on reddit.

edit: And it's highly likely that the vast majority of occurences of the string 'nazi' in that sub are in the context of satirical postings like, Oh, you think borders should be secure and rapists should be prosecuted? You must be a nazi!


Alright, sure, to be more precise it is both neo-nazi and white supremacist.

I thought I'd have to look at least a little bit harder than literally the first link I clicked, but: https://www.reddit.com/r/european/comments/4htthg/til_muslim...

Some choice comments include "sieg heil, NSB (Dutch fascists) was not wrong," comments about "negroid France," calls to poison halal food, issues they find with the survival of the white race due to the "blacks" and Muslims.

It is not a place for discussion of European culture. It is a vile cesspool of racists and hate.


Also on the front page, 4chan in-jokes and donald trump's face. I somehow doubt most of the posters actually live in Europe, as opposed to the typical /pol crowd latching onto a convenient issue.


Yeah, it makes me wonder if cb18 isn't right there among them to be so willfully ignorant of its true nature. His posting history here suggests sympathy to the /r/european mindset (e.g. citing infowars about crime statistics specifically to paint black people en masse as inherently more criminal, citing a ridiculous blog that says most advances in modern history are only due to white people, etc.)

Also the whole 18 being a symbol of neo-nazis.


No, you're describing elements of /r/europe. /r/european is a straight up neo-nazi white supremacist forum that occasionally operates under the guise of being concerned about extremist immigrants.

There's literally a stickied post about Holocaust denial right now.


/r/ukpolitics is somewhat similar.

What does 18 signify?


>In neo-Nazi circles, a code word for Adolf Hitler. The number comes from the position of the letters in the alphabet: A = 1, H = 8. See also 88.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/18_(number)#In_other_fields


Quite. One of my flatmates in the mid 1990s was the brother of a member of Combat 18, a UK-based neo-Nazi group, which fuelled my subsequent suspicion of anybody with 18 in their pseudonym. But there are of course many possible reasons for choosing that number, so I was hoping to hear the truth from the horse's mouth so to speak.

This isn't the first time I've asked cb18 why 18. Should I see another comment from them along similar lines, I'll ask again.


That stat is hard to interpret in a vacuum.

What percent of such threads contain a comment that mentions potatoes, or bismuth, or juggling?


Did you guys run any sort of analysis like this, on comment content in aggregate, during your tenure? I would guess with all of that data it'd be fun for hackathons to come up with interesting conversation starters like this one, despite the flaw you point out.

Glad folks are putting together these datasets now, too, if informally.


No; we were usually too busy just keeping the site up and trying to generate revenue.... though actually, there were occasional times where we said "fuck that" and took a break to work on something fun, like an April Fools stunt.

If anyone did such an analysis, it would have been ketralnis.


Or cats.


Or nazi cats.


Allow me to make a more general conjecture: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving word_x or word_y approaches 1.


My thoughts exactly. I won't put any credence in this information until I see a graph comparing the relative frequency of "nazi" as discussions grow with "Justin Bieber", "anosmia", and "Kevin Bacon".


Why? The definition isn't relative to these in any way. It doesn't say that Nazi mentions are more frequent than Bieber mentions. Just that it's more likely to occur in longer threads relative to shorter threads.


That's an obvious and boring conclusion, though. It's barely beyond saying that if you roll dice, sequences with more rolls tend to have more sixes.


Yes; unfortunately, Godwin did not commit to any numbers, like "the thread length required for a 79% probability is 500 responses".


I suppose that reddit threads with 1000+ comments will mention a lot of things. Seeing how they have so many comments and so much text and all.


I'd like to propose Godwin's Number: the number of responses needed to produce a 50% chance of a reference to Nazis.


I like it! It can be thought of as an LD50.


I'm amazed that a full 22% of ultra-sustained Reddit threads are completely free of Nazi references. That's a beautiful display of self-restraint by a big crowd in an ugly world.

I would have pegged the odds of sustained Nazi-free discourse on Reddit as comparable to -- say -- the odds of finding 1,000 Medium posts without the word "f*ck" or its variants in any of the headlines.


It's important to remember that civilized intellectual Westerners relatively recently democratically elected leaders who shovelled intellectual, sexual, and racial minorities into mass graves based on magical theories.


True. But not important - or salient - 78% of the time on popular Reddit threads, right?


So? It's like mentioning good or evil.

"Nazi" is just a stand-in for "the worst evil" (or sometimes just for plain evil).

It's also a major historical and political even of the 20th century, with tons of analogies and lessons to draw from.

I always found Goodwin's law (and especially the corollary, since the law is just a funny observation) BS.


Well Nazis were arguably the biggest stain ever on human history.

Pretty much a reference point for any human being who has gotten some education.

Also a handy, lazy way to box-up anyone you disagree with or want to troll.

As generations move further and further away from WW2 people may stop relating to it though. Hard to imagine kids in 2100 using Nazi references. Might be climate destruction references instead.


I am not surprised and I don't find it alarming. More comments means more fights and words like "Nazi" are bound to appear because it is basically a slang for evil.

Forget reddit, a quick look at American politics itself shows very liberal use of phrases like Fascist and Nazi when in reality people probably mean just evil.


First rule of the Internet : all comment threads tend towards comparison to hitler. Multiply by 20 for YouTube.


That's called Godwin's Law


To validate Godwin's Law, you have to apply it properly.

What Godwin's Law refers to is this: either an ad hominem attack occurs in which some debating parties compares their opponent(s) to Nazi's, or else some other sort of non-constructive, inappropriate comparison is made between some subject and the Nazis. ("Those crazy GNU Nazis don't want anyone to get paid for programming." "I'm gonna ignore you topic Nazis and write about whatever I want.")

Simply mentioning Hitler or the Nazi party is not enough; there are valid, constructive ways to do that. For instance, a legitimate thread about WWII history will probably mention Hitler or the Nazis! Also, comparing any violently repressive regime to the Nazis is completely valid.


Did you read the article?

> Then I excluded history subreddits


How can you be sure that an ad hominem attack or other inappropriate invocation of the Nazis doesn't take place in a history subreddit that is also chock full of legitimate references?


Godwin's law doesn't talk about only ad hominem attacks though. It talks about comparing someone/something to nazis, most often it'll be related to the content the comments are on. Most of the content outside r/history is unlikely to be originally related to WWII. I would count a random mention of nazis under a trump article as Godwin's law.

Although, knowing reddit most of the comments are probably along the lines of "I did nazi that coming".

Source: I spend a lot of time on reddit


Hey, maybe it's just worthwhile talking about Nazis? World War II was one of the most catastrophic failures in the history of the world, and the rise of Nazism was an enormous subcategory of failure. These events defined the shape of the century; they demonstrated the horrific extremes to which humanity can descend, and they're absolutely worth appreciating so that we can forestall their reappearance again.

Moreover, it's not like the Nazis just went away; they continued to exist, and the ideologies that produced them not only still exist but are once again becoming a powerful political force.

So fuck yeah, everyone, talk about Nazis. It's one of the most important things you can talk about. (But read Hannah Arendt first.)


It's kind of the de facto escape hatch for some and a baseline analogy many can comprehend because of decade long conditioning. It does not surprise me one bit.

What's always rather surprised me though is that no one seems to have realized that the decades of collective shaming of Germans for having gone through the national socialist dictatorship and war, has led to a deeply lost and self-loathing society without pride, dignity, or healthy identity. The society is in rather advanced stages self-destruction and decomstruction. The question is really only whether German culture and society will at all survive it's suicidal tendencies.


I think that, in a way, the developing immigrant crisis (look at the problems at Cologne on New Year's) is going to be a good thing for Germany, forcing them to determine what parts of their heritage are worth standing up for after all. The Greek crisis was also an example of Germany standing up for themselves; I think that, if you ask the Germans, they've made as much restitution for the Nazi period as it's meaningful to make (look up the details, they're pretty formidable), and at this point improvident foreigners looking for handouts and talking about Hitler are just engaged in bullying.

In the long run, I expect Germany to survive, but I'm not making the same bet on the US. I'm planning on moving from the US to Ireland at some point; I don't really want to be here, or to make my children be here, for the chaos almost certain to ensue 40-50 years from now. (Or 10-20 years from now, if we end up with President The Donald and he keeps his campaign promises.)


>I'm not making the same bet on the US

As The Economist put it, America has "friends to the north and south and fish to the east and west." If anything truly threatens the US, it is ourselves. The idea that anyone could sustain supply lines to invade the States is out of their mind or has fallen asleep too many times to reruns of Red Dawn.


There were plans drawn up by the UK for conducting warfare in N. America, with the specific aim of countering a US invasion of Canada, the purpose of which would be to deny the port of Halifax to the Royal Navy. During this time, Canada drew up contingency plans for invading the US and fighting off an invasion. Britain hoped that the Canadians would be able to defend Halifax, but had no plans to bail out Canada in this circumstance. The US drafted a plan for the invasion of Canada, while the UK drafted a plan to defeat the US Navy at sea.

I think there's a Nova episode about all this.


I don't watch trash. It's precisely ourselves that any threat will come from; I expect that the current environment of political upheaval will only get worse.


What exactly is wrong with the current passel of immigrants to the States?


It's not the immigrants that I'm afraid of; it's the locals. The Scotch-Irish are being shunted aside by the march of history; their cultural values, especially their economic improvidence, keep them from getting into the mainstream (read _Albion's Seed_); and they're not going to go gently into that good night. As Christian belief declines in the Scotch-Irish parts of the US, Nazi belief grows. (I have personally seen an aspiring pastor with a tattoo on his arm incorporating both the cross and the swastika, who saw no contradiction between the two.) Things are going to come to a head -- either in fierce government repression, or in uprisings or civil war -- and I don't want to be collateral damage when they do.


Perhaps if there were some sort of party that could rise to prominence on a platform of making Germany great again?


Even more effective if the supposed reasons for non-greatness are one or more groups of faceless Others, within and without the country. Someone could go far in politics this way, with convenient scapegoats they could promise to drive out of the country, and perhaps even build a wall for keeping them out. Not that that would ever happen nowadays, what with millennia of history to learn from...


Sadly I think you're right. A reflexive anti-national shame is probably the cause of the myopic dream of multiculturalism, where culture and ethnicity and very old instincts about judging people who look different from you don't matter anymore, now and forever.

It's almost as if some Germans are so ashamed of their national past that they would rather see nationalism eliminated entirely than to accept the messy world as it is.

Ironically, I am now realizing how much of a burden that ideology is being forced on much of Europe, not necessarily the same way that the Nazis conquered Europe, but in the same insistence that they are ultimately right.


⌘-F "Godwin" shows me seven usages in this thread. I was looking for something like "see, Godwin was right". One commenter seems to have gotten it right. The rest think it's something one "invokes" (to quote one usage). Godwin's law is like the law of gravity: it always existed (in Godwin's case, post-WWII, obviously), whether you "used" it or not. You drop an apple, it'll hit the ground. An online discussion (or probably any discussion) grows longer, someone's going to make a Nazi comparison, which this article seems to confirm.


Novelty account names tend to have references, just saw one the other day where not only did a commenter have the username of "Hitlerly Litler" or something to that effect, but someone pointed it out with the /u/username syntax because they thought it was funny.

If they're doing naive string searches, does every thread that guy shows up in get counted? What about robot_hitler, MeinFurher, and all the others?

Did anyone control for the topic very well? Many of the current news stories deal with fascism, or things people might worry to be fascism or totalitarianism or genocide.


So I know that reddit has always been a bit more crass than your average community, and this could totally be me. But the last time I pulled up reddit to waste some time, I seemed to notice that more pseudo porn, wtf and generally nsfw stuff was on the front page. I personally don't care that is the case per se, but its utility as something to introduce me to something new/interesting seems to be vastly reduced. Maybe I should just yell get off of my lawn and move on.


Reddit has suffered from Eternal September for quite some time.

There's a really good article on this subject that I can't seem to locate. But, if you put Reddit into the Wayback Machine, you'll see the frontpage transform over time, from something like Slashdot in 2009, to a meme image board in 2012, to a cleaned-up, marketing-friendly, image board in 2014, to the Facebook-feed-like mess that you see today.

When I first joined, the default frontpage was fine. But after time, I had to edit out default subreddits from the main feed. The final straw, in around 2013, was not being able to escape trolls and punsters, anywhere on the site.

These days, if I browse Reddit, I restrict myself to heavily moderated subs, like /r/askhistorians and /r/askscience, and subs with less than a thousand subscribers. Anywhere else on the site is like visiting the Facebook page of a 14-year-old Nazi womanizer with a Trump infatuation.

AOL and Windows 95 ruined everything!


I think a thread being godwin'd on reddit, is like any programming thread on HN getting dragged down into "but, you should use Rust."

Annoying, very annoying, and a hard problem to solve.


It's solved by the OP of every programming thread using Rust of course!


This was how it was the first time I visited reddit, they have since changed the default sub-reddits to much less NSFW stuff.


Use of the term should just throw a flag and information the user that users able allowed to filter comments based on keyword and if there comment will not be viewable to XX% of the community. Second, mods should still be reviewing the community for inappropriate behavior.

While I'd never use the term, it's a good reminder that what words you choose often define you.


Yeah a thread will eventually have someone comparing someone else to Hitler or Nazis. It is Godwin's Law.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law


It would be more interesting to compare TTH (Time To Hitler) on different websites. Not sure reddit is a contender. Maybe look over to Fox news.



Thus Goodwin's Law has been proven to be true once again.


Is the code available for this in github? The dataset is 370 GB, i think. What did the author use - postgres/Spark/other?


BigQuery, it's mentioned in the linked article.

http://bigquery.cloud.google.com/table/fh-bigquery:reddit_co...

Probably this dataset which is updated periodically


Somewhere the people in a subreddit are kicking themselves for not doing their jobs well enough to bring that up to 98%.


... does this correct for non-Nazi Nazi usage? Like "Grammar nazi" or "Spelling nazi"?


I'm sure there are other common words in most/all of those threads that wouldn't surprise us.


I bet you could find other words than "Nazis" for which this is also true...


Maybe try it on HN threads, don't think Godwin's Law would be as effective


HN threads don't go above 1000 nearly as often as Reddit, without any regard to the differences in audience, or the size of the audience, or the scale of the content availavle to comment on.


Unlike Reddit, invoking Godwin's Law in Hacker News will get your comment killed.


Yes, the moderation is literally Hitler here.


181 comments and already 35 mentions of Trump. Beats Godwin.


Seems likely that most 1,000+ comment threads are political.


Incorrect. Most 1,000 comment threads are in the default subreddits.

Using BigQuery to group the number of threads by subreddit:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1_bL0dVn3z2R-pUkWuWNr...

   SELECT subreddit, SUM(num_comments >= 1000) as num_comments_gte1000
   FROM [fh-bigquery:reddit_posts.full_corpus_201512]
   GROUP BY subreddit
   ORDER BY num_comments_gte1000 DESC
   LIMIT 1000


40% of Reddit threads with 1000+ comments involve photos of kittens, including all 22% that don't mention Nazis. That means 18% of Reddit threads involve both kittens and Nazis.


Your snark with made-up numbers assumes that p(kitten) and p(nazi) are independent. Which they aren't.


per a random selection of 1000 comments, how how likely is it that a comment will contain mention of nazis?


Was anybody surprised by this?


I did Nazi see that coming!


anybody what is the exact query being used ?


and only 65% of hn threads


So .001 * .78 or, .00078 of comments mention nazis.


I think the thread is counted if there is at least 1 mention of nazis in the thread.

Therefore it is possible that there are multiple mentions per counted thread meaning that at least .00078 comments mention nazis, but in all likelihood far more comments mention nazis.

Edit: after reading the article, I don't think that this observation stands.


Technically not correct. The OP only looks at threads w/ 1000+ comments.

The vast majority of threads on Reddit have less than that. (see: http://jeroendelcour.nl/blog/Reddits-attention-inequality )


So is his extrapolation that at 4k+ it will reach towards 100%?


Right, the first line of the post.


Downvotes for summing up the whole article into a simple concept?


You are likely getting downvoted because your comment is redundant.




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