Reductio ad Hitlerum

Posted: 24 June 2009 in politics, religion

A little clarification of terms:

Godwin’s Law: As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

Reductio ad Hitlerum: The logical fallacy that posits “Hitler/the Nazis supported X, therefore X is objectionable.

Recently, I’ve been involved in a few barely civil discussions over at Markarios‘ screed-a-day blog where he decries all that is wrong and stupid about atheism and delivers mountains of logical fallacies to “prove” his viewpoint, and rarely, if ever, links to the conversations that he uses to demonize – no pun intended – the evil godless atheists he’s railing against.

In one of these particular excursions, “The atheist’s biggest myth,” one of the rare Makarios supporters Godwins all over himself with a Reductio ad Hitlerum mixed with an unhealthy dose of supporting Creationism by linking Darwinian theory to Nazism:

Oh, but you protest, we are a well advanced society in a technological age. We have evolved to the point where we are far beyond the natural selection processes of the animal kingdom, and we choose to live in a well ordered society. Well, perhaps the best example of a well ordered society is Nazi Germany. You gotta hand it to Adolf. He took the defeated economic basket case that was post-WWI Germany and turned it into a thriving society, revved up its economic engines, and turned it into a model of efficiency. The trains ran on time in Germany. And it was a perfect model of Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest, as it included in its program the elimination of elements of society that it considered undesirable obstacles to an efficient, well ordered and pure society.

My response was… succinct:

Argumentum ad Hitlerum


If the best you can muster is

if(!$yahweh){ $hitler = true; }

then please rationalize your omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent deity allowing the holocaust.

Of course, he’d have to at least go out swinging the Hitler-stick:

The Hitler argument is just one of countless illustrations…

Riiight.  I shut down this line of “reasoning.”

Yet, people on your side of the argument can be reliable counted upon
to go to it each and every time, as if you have no other fall back…

And they don’t.  Creationists can be relied upon to fall back to the ridiculous position “Darwin posited eugenics, the Nazis killed 6+ million people on that basis, therefore, DARWIN WAS WRONG!”  This is laughable on two counts:

a) it doesn’t prove or disprove anything.  Right or wrong, Darwin neither endorsed nor suggested anything akin to the Holocaust.  In fact, the Holocaust has nothing to do with Darwinian theory.  I shudder to contemplate the world view where “Survival of the Fittest” and “Natural Selection” cannot be differentiated from “One Louse Can Kill” and “Abreit Macht Frei.”  There was nothing natural whatsoever about the selection there, and no one is fit enough to survive a Zyklon-B shower and a trip to the oven.

b) it typically comes after all attempts to debunk the science have been thoroughly exhausted to no avail.  “If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” and so forth.  Yet another logical fallacy, starting from argumentum ad ignorantiam and devolving into appeal to ridicule.  I point you to the series on Gin and Tacos, “Ed vs. Logical Fallacies.”  It’s an impressive read, and helped me easily distinguish these things when I see them.

But anyway, back to Makarios.  He actually managed to Godwin the entire thread much earlier:

In Darwinist / Fascist terms, Hitler’s biggest mistake was stepping outside his own borders.

Makarios looooves to throw “fascist” around like a sixteen-year-old fliply gesturing with a lit cigarette that they never seem to toke from, as if it makes them look cool.  The problem here is describing Hitler as a fascist is a ridiculous simplification and blurring of lines.  Adolf Hitler was a fascist like Barack Obama is a socialist.  But this doesn’t stop Makarios from tossing the term out like beads at Mardi Gras.  “Atheist fascist,” “Darwinian / Fascist,” etc…, he continues to attempt to paint anyone he disagrees with as a Hitler-loving fascist.  I’m a vegetarian, non-Christian, Darwin-accepting white male of northern European stock.  According to Makarios, I practically am Hitler.  (Except for that pesky Jewish great-grandmother.  And Native American great-grandfather.  And liberal political stance.)

If you’re looking for a few hours and some brain cells to kill, I’d advise checking out his site.  There’s plenty of “I’m right, therefore I am right, furthermore, you are WRONG” for everyone.

  1. Leigh says:

    Umm, the liberal stance counts against you in their minds. Hitler was liberal in the wingnuts view of history.
    Christ, you ARE Hitler.

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