Reductio Ad Conspiratorium

Godwin’s Law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies) is a humorous observation coined by Mike Godwin in 1990, and which has become an Internet adage. It states: ‘As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.’

Reductio ad Hitlerum, also argumentum ad Hitlerum, or reductio (or argumentum) ad Nazium – dog Latin for “reduction (or argument) to Adolf Hitler (or the Nazis)” – is an ad hominem argument, or modern formal fallacy in logic. The name is a pun on reductio ad absurdum, or especially its related argumentum ad misericordiam. It is a variety of both questionable cause and association fallacy and has the effect of an appeal to emotion. The phrase reductio ad Hitlerum was coined by an academic ethicist, Leo Strauss, in 1953. Engaging in this fallacy is sometimes known as playing the Nazi card.

Taking inspiration from the above items, I have now coined the following:

Reductio Ad Conspiratorium is a rhetorical device used to abruptly end a discussion that relies on facts that are measurable and reproducible (in the scientific sense) and that does not relie on emotion or anecdotal data. Thus, the probability of the discussion being characterized as a conspiracy led by [insert name of your favorite enemy here] increases as the probability of the truthfulness of the argument increases. Using this rhetorical device to end any rational discussion is sometimes known as “playing the conspiracy card.”

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I assumed I was original when I created the phrase “reductio ad conspiratorium.” It turns out that phrase appeared in 2006 in The American Prospect.

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  • Anon E. Mous

    Ah, clearly a case of great minds running on the same track.

    Most elucidating.


  • Scott Hutson

    Very good article Jeff!

    Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger in respect to your finding the 2006 American Journal phrase. Happens to me allot when I think up something. I agree w/Anon>Great Minds runnung on the same track(not my mind being great,>Jeffsaddming).

    What jumps out at me is “Effect on the appeal to emotion” on this subject. I’m learning.


  • Jeff

    Scott and Anon,

    Thank you both for your comments. While it is disappointing to know that I was not completely original with the concept…but…it means that others see the same trend that I see.

  • Scott Hutson


    Oh yes! The trend. This article got me thinking(uh oh)….While listening to some lyrics of songs I burn to cd’s,by various artists from the 60′s-70′s. History,in fact,does repeat itself. Bob Dylan “The times they are a changn’…Guess what Bob,Your a Prophet! “Imagine”if you were still alive John Lennon!

    It’s almost scary….Scott.

  • Jeff


    Really wanna blow your mind? Try listening to the old Country Joe and the Fish from the original Woodstock album. Substitute the “Iraq” for “Vietnam” and it will be painfully obvious that, in a bizarre sense, we haven’t changed as much as we think.

    Here’s a link to the lyrics:

  • Scott Hutson


    Your in my head bro. I’ve been singing that song since 1973or4,when I saw the movie at the Center Theater in downtown Okla.City. Was the midnight movie. I love that movie. Particualy “10 Years After” band performance. I was just a kid,who thought he was pretty cool to be there w/my older brother.

    We are on the same page on this subject.

    Thank You Jeff!…..Scott.

  • Scott Hutson

    Another memory is ..When I was a young boy in grade school, I had the fear of the reality of being drafted and surely dying at a young age. This memory still haunts me from time to time.

    It’s strange how my memory is so good about my childhood,and I can’t tell you now what I did or thought yesterday exactly. Thats another subject though. I’m still learning.


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