Your Guide to Laws of the Internet

The Internet has laws. I don't mean rules here, as in guidelines that you must follow or be banished by Al Gore from the World Wide Web. No, I mean laws like the first law of thermodynamics and things like that. Science.

And the science of the Internet is a discipline I will hereby dub anthroculusology, from the Latin "anthro" meaning "man," "culus," meaning "asshole," and "ology" meaning this. The laws of anthroculusology specifically refer to the behavior of assholes when afforded the opportunity to express themselves with relative anonymity and without fear of social repercussion. In short, the chance of receiving a swift elbow to the jaw is inversely proportionate to the desire to act in a way that in meat world would end with a swift elbow to the jaw.

Today we salute the pioneers who gave form to these online principles.

See also: 5 URLs You Can Safely Ignore When Your Friends Share Links on Facebook

Godwin's Law: First expressed by attorney and author Mike Godwin in Usenet groups in the '90s, the law that bears his name is probably the best known of the Internet laws, and was recently added to the Oxford dictionary. The law states, "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one," meaning that any comment section or forum on any subject, no matter how far removed it may be from the Nazis or Hitler will eventually bring up references to them if the discussion continues.

Godwin's original expression was a pointed rebuttal to flippant comparisons to the Holocaust that he saw online. Since first expressed, it has unfortunately been proven time and time again to be accurate, as any comment section on any news story about any president will reveal.

Anita's Irony: A variation of Godwin's Law is Moff's Law, which states, "As comments continue in a feminist [social justice] discussion of pop culture, the probability of someone saying 'why do you have to analyze it? It's just a movie/cartoon/book!' approaches one." This has given rise to a correlation known as Anita's Irony, named for Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian.

Anita's Irony states, "Online discussion of sexism or misogyny quickly results in disproportionate displays of sexism and misogyny," and if you ever wonder why Sarkeesian has the comment section disabled on her videos this is why. Threats of rape for deconstructing Duke Nukem is not really something you want to expose yourself to.

Poe's Law: Another well-known law that is extremely important to be aware of is Poe's Law. Nathan Poe was a poster on a creationist forum in 2005. The forum was understandably frequented by satirists, and forum users often reacted to the satire by not recognizing it and thus beginning flame wars. Poe stated, "Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won't mistake for the genuine article."

Since tone of voice is impossible to convey in an e-mail, post, or text, extrapolating Poe's Law teaches us that it is very important to question how obvious a joke is before using it. Unless you really just enjoy taking the piss out of people. In that case, carry on.

Danth's Law: or those of us who have been drawn into long and obnoxious online arguments with someone that just cannot stand to drop an issue long after it's been decided, this one is for you. Danth's Law says, "If you have to insist that you've won an Internet argument, you've probably lost badly." It was named after a user named Danth on RPG.net, who responded to attacks on his logic with the sentiment that if people were just going to start being mean he would assume he had won.

For more information on this law in live action, please watch the The O'Reilly Factor.

Occam's Duct Tape: Not so much a law as a method to explain the behavior of certain conspiracy-minded folks. It's the exact opposite of the popular, and often misunderstood, principal Occam's Razor. Though many interpret it to mean "the simplest solution is the most likely" the principle is better expressed as reducing your hypothesis to the fewest probabilities necessary to explore it. It is not, for example, an excuse to wave away important information to prove that the government developed HIV as a racist weapon.

Occam's Duct Tape is a tongue-in-cheek expression of this misplaced simplicity. See, as a hypothesis becomes a conspiracy theory, important information that was junked is replaced with an increasing number of logical faults that must be increasingly shorn up with ever more jerry-rigged arguments to keep the structure from falling apart. Eventually, the original point is lost under a mass of amateur engineering.

See also: 10 Best Artwork of Hitler on Etsy (NSFW)

Scopie's Law: Finally, and most importantly, is a legal expression by Rich Scopie in 2008. It states, "In any discussion involving science or medicine, citing Whale.to as a credible source loses you the argument immediately ...and gets you laughed out of the room." Whale.to, run by John Scudamore is, to put it as mildly as possible, a place where science goes to be waterboarded until it gives up false names in order to make the hurting stop.

Scopie's Law can be altered and applied to any number of other homes for the mentally challenged on the internet. For your reference, the following websites and people automatically, should you cite of evidence, forfeit you any argument; Educate-yourself.org, Before It's News, anything linking back to Alex Jones, Leonard Horowitz, a member of the Schlafly family, Answers in Genesis, Joseph Mercola, Natural News, the Family Research Council, Glorablresearc.ca, and WND. If you find yourself copying and pasting from these sources, it is time to admit that you are a walking example Pommer's law.

BONUS LAW - Pommer's Law: "A person's mind can be changed by reading information on the internet. The nature of this change will be: From having no opinion to having a wrong opinion."

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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