Posted in Life & Happiness

Godwin’s Law

In 1990 when the internet was still in its infancy, Mike Godwin observed something while browsing through internet forums. From his observations, he humorously coined the following adage: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1”. This essentially means that no matter what the topic of the online discussion may be, given enough time, someone will eventually make a comparison to Adolf Hitler or the Nazis.

For example, during a discussion about animal rights, someone may decide to post: “You know who else loved animals? Hitler.” No matter how unrelated the topic may be, someone will inevitably make a hyperbolic comparison to Hitler. It is also widely accepted that the moment this happens to a discussion, it is considered dead and the one who made the comparison loses the discussion. It should be noted that this law only applies to discussions not originally related to Hitler, the Nazis or totalitarian regimes and ideologies where the comparison to Hitler may be appropriate.

This law is closely related to a logical fallacy known as reductio ad Hitlerum, where someone tries to refute an opponent’s argument by comparing it to something Hitler would think or say. It is a crude, classless form of the ad hominem fallacy, where someone attacks the opponent personally rather than the argument itself. The reductio ad Hitlerum is extremely ineffective as in an intelligent discussion, such an effort would simply be considered childish and moronic.

Posted in History & Literature


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Who will guard the guards?

One of the most basic instincts of a human being is to doubt. We do not easily extend our trust to strangers. This is a natural response that is very beneficial for your survival from an evolutionary perspective (consider the overfriendly dodos that were wiped out by humans). As civilisation has progressed and the size of societies grew, people devised legal systems to lower their vigilance against each other. This was because instead of wasting time being suspicious of others, we devised specialist roles who would do that for us, allowing us to live in peace with each other. These specialists who stay alert and guard us enforce the law and stabilise our society. However, what would happen if the people that protect us from evil become evil? Is it not a scary thought to think that there is no one that watches the watchmen?

Emperor Qin Shi Huang who united China to form the Qin dynasty divided up his people, setting up a mutual guard system to enforce his rule. Informing became a civil obligation. To not report illegal activities was illegal in itself. The system of informing was as follows: five families form a group with each group being watched by an official warden who reports on them. This official warden is carefully observed by an unofficial surveillant. Five groups come together to form a tribe. If it is found that at any level something was not reported, the blame was turned on every member of the group. Thus, a circle of surveillance is formed.

This method was extremely effective and Emperor Qin’s rule of terror was unstoppable. Crime rates plummeted while productivity rose. The problem was that the people’s quality of life was pathetic. Emperor Qin’s system of watching was later adopted by Nazi Germany. The people under the rule of the Nazis had to live in fear of being reported by their neighbours. This method is also seen being used by Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Is this truly the best system to keep peace? Laws are put in place for the happiness and safety of the people, yet over-surveillance is an ironic concept that exists for those who hold power rather than the people.

How much should we trust another person? And who will watch the watchmen?

Posted in Psychology & Medicine


Twins are categorised into either maternal or paternal twins.
Maternal twins are formed when an embryo splits into two (or more sometimes) in the early stages, and grow separately. In these cases, the two genetically identical babies sometimes even share a placenta. This fact makes them very useful in a research context (Nazi Germany used them extensively in unethical biomedical experiments).
As paternal twins come from separate egg and sperm, they are born as normal brothers and sisters. Because of this, it is also possible to have a boy and a girl (maternal twins have the same gender).


In a standard population, less than 5% are twins. However, according to some researches, it is posited that almost 25% of all pregnancies are twins. They hypothesise that out of all these twins, many cases involve one of the twins dying prenatally. If this happens, the corpse is absorbed by the mother and the other baby to recycle the nutrients. Sometimes a half-absorbed foetus is found embedded in the placenta (vanishing twin), or found in the body of the other twin years after birth (fetus in fetu).

A more interesting hypothesis from this research is that in these cases, one twin is left-handed while the other is right-handed.
Therefore, left-handed people may have absorbed their right-handed twin in the womb and survived.
This theory is validated by cases from nature. Many animals tend to birth two offsprings, then help the stronger one to survive. It is essentially nature’s insurance system.

Another interesting fact related twins is about a place called Candido Godoi, Brazil. This place is famous for being “the twin capital of the world”, due to having 18 times the rate of identical twin births compare to anywhere in the world. This means that one in five pregnant couples can expect double the bundle of joy.
The strange fact about this place is that there is a theory that the unnatural twin-birth phenomenon may be linked to a Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele (a.k.a. the Angel of Death) who fled to this town around 1963. It was around then when the phenomenon started occurring. However, it is still uncertain whether he was involved in any way.