|Cogito ergo sum|
Logic and rhetoric
Danth's Law states:
“”If you have to insist that you've won an Internet argument, you've probably lost badly.
It was formulated on the popular Roleplaying Game forum, RPG.net and named after the now-banned user who inspired it. A synopsis of the discussion which led to Danth's Law can be found on RPG.net:
“”The thread does not achieve true classic status, however, until post 234. Having been away from his computer for a while, Danth returns to see the mockery and states that "When this happens [people resorting to personal attacks], I usually assume that I have 'won.' Sorry if you couldn't handle my arguments. " Ten posts later, Balthazor puts into words what is now known as "Danth's Law", on those few occasions when it is relevant enough to quote it: If someone goes and announces that they've won an internet forum discussion, they probably very much haven't.
The original phrasing of Danth's Law, as can be seen in the discussion thread which spawned it, was:
“”I'm thinking, a good rule of thumb might be that if someone goes and announces that they've won an internet forum discussion, they probably very much haven't.
As an internet discussion grows and grows, it's often tempting to declare victory and move on, especially if you've rammed the point home too many times and your opponent just ignores everything you say. In this case, declaring victory and moving on may be legitimate and excusable.
Unfortunately, the majority of the time, declaring victory is just spin: a last desperate attempt to trick people into believing you came out on top (providing that they don't actually go and read the discussion, of course). Sometimes, the individuals declaring victory may well be convinced that they're right; often they'll have gone into the discussion knowing that they're right and with no possible option that they might be wrong. When combined with the ability to expel someone from the discussion, Danth's Law takes on a more sinister tone — indicating that a group or individual can only defend themselves on their own terms, through the medium of extreme deceit.
More specifically, the person declaring themselves victorious against strong opposition generally cites the quantity of opposition as why they won and no longer have to argue to prove their point — after all, if they weren't so right, why would people be so desperate in refuting them with post after post? This may consist of complaining about the opponent's 'way' of arguing, or just the amount of arguing, number of points brought up, or number of people arguing against them as evidence of their victory, as nonsensical and contradictory as that assertion logically is.
- The Lenski Affair — Despite the thorough and scathing reply that indicated beyond all doubt that the research was correct, Andrew Schlafly decreed that his untenable position was, in fact vindicated by the response and that Richard Lenski has a poor attitude.
- HowTheWorldWorks — Published a video entitled “My Annihilation of Thunderf00t“, which of course, contained no such “annihilation” outside the title.
- George Aiken — US senator. Suggested that the US should declare victory in the Vietnam War and leave, having “won” (well the actual quote was “the United States could well declare unilaterally … that we have ‘won’ in the sense that our armed forces are in control of most of the field and no potential enemy is in a position to establish its authority over South Vietnam”).
- Bill O'Reilly — Routinely declares that he’s won any debate/interview (if you can call them that) after the event, especially if he had their microphone turned off.
- Fox News — Declaring themselves “Fair and Balanced“ does not, in fact, make them ‘’fair and balanced’’. Indeed, it draws attention to the fact that they are no such thing. They finally got tired of being made fun of for this and changed it.
- The BNP — Although this is a slight perversion to “declaring victory”, following harsh criticisms and protests due to their increased exposure in recent years, the BNP have essentially “declared persecution“.
- J. P. Holding — Web-based fundamentalist Christian apologist. Famous for his juvenile proclamations of victory over opponents who have actually made him look bad by thoroughly exposing his numerous errors and dishonest tactics.
- Charles Carreon — After spending weeks trying to make himself look the biggest dick ever by suing Matthew Inman (who criticized him once), two charities, a fundraising platform and a hundred mystery people (“Does”), claimed victory despite the entire blogosphere’s opinion of him going down through several layers of the Earth and, more importantly, his dropping of the lawsuit.
- George W. Bush, United States President — Declared “mission accomplished“ after toppling Saddam Hussein‘s regime in Iraq but before the process of rebuilding Iraq had revealed itself as the long, arduous slog it would turn out to be.
- Some “ex-homosexuals“, such as Charlene Cothran, admit to being celibate and/or same-sex attracted only yet still annoyingly (or hilariously) claim that homosexuality is a choice and that they are the “evidence”.
In the process of the debate a person might make claims about themselves, to bolster their argument, but mostly their ego, that are unverifiable due to the anonymous nature of the internet. However, it is more than likely they are false. These exist as corollaries to Danth's Law and many examples that are easily found on the internet include:
- If someone claims to have a large penis on the internet, the converse is most likely true.
- If a person claims to be strong enough to kick your ass online, they are more likely to be a pathetic weakling.
- Anyone on a forum saying they sleep with models/strippers/"hotter chicks than that [picture of attractive woman]" most likely has not had a date in over a year, and may well still be a virgin.
- Anyone who lists their annual income on MySpace or Facebook at over $250,000 is unemployed and living with their mother.
- If someone claims that there is a great deal of evidence that supports their cause, there likely isn't nearly as much as they claim.
- If someone claims that they had used 'fair and balanced' arguments in a debate, they most likely did not.
- Websites that have "truth" or "true" in their name or put the term prominently in their description usually do not have any at all.
There are weaker forms of Danth's Law, for example:
“”Anyone claiming that their opponent’s argument is making the opponent look silly or stupid etc, or that they are just digging themselves into a deeper hole, is really concerned that they themselves are being made to look silly, or stupid etc, or have fallen into a deep hole.