Interesting Quotes By William Reilly, Former EPA Administrator Reported In The February 7 2012 issue Of EOS

UPDATE 3/5/2012: Randy Showstack e-mailed to correct the original weblog post as to which EPA administrator is refered to with respect to the quote.

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There is an interesting statement reported in the February 7 2012 issue of EOS in the article

New Clean Air Efforts Face Tough Challenges, Say Senators and Former EPA Administrators

by Randy Showstack, Staff Writer. A section from his news report reads [highlight added]

William Ruckelshaus, EPA administrator from 1970 to 1973 and from 1983 to 1985.William Reilly, EPA administrator from 1989 to 1992, said that] that if Congress can’t address “obvious and pervasive threats” such as mercury emissions, then “addressing what really strikes me as the most dangerous one lurking out there in the future—climate change—is going to be impossible. Congress should be leading the country in preparing the country for the inevitable consequences of climate change.” He said, “We’re sleepwalking through that. It strikes me it’s almost like the British quiescence as the Germans rearmed in the 1930s. It’s coming, and it’s inevitable that the longer we wait, the more serious it’s going to be, both in terms of adaptation and in terms of mitigation.”

This is an excellent example of the application of Godwin’s law.  Godwin’s law is summarized as

Godwin observed that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis…..Godwin has argued that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact….Godwin’s law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons of other situations (or one’s opponent) with Nazis.

While falling foul of Godwin’s law tends to cause the individual making the comparison to lose their argument or credibility, Godwin’s law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent’s argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.

My view is that when one has to invoke the Godwin Law, they are losing their argument.

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