Sean Spicer's Hitler Flub Proves Godwin's Law Is True Even Offline

A classic law of Internet debate explains why bringing up Hitler is a terrible idea as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer found out in a disastrous press conference.

Sean Spicer
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pauses while speaking during a briefing at the White House April 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)


White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer ignited a firestorm of controversy by seemingly questioning whether Hitler used chemical weapons during World War 2. As Spicer was giving a press conference on April 11th and talking about the situation in Syria, he attempted to put the actions of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in perspective. Even Hitler, according to Spicer, was not as bad as Assad because he didn't gas his own people.

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. Someone who is despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons,” said Spicer.

The remarks caused disbelief and condemnation because it's a well-documented fact that Nazis used gas chambers filled with hydrogen cyanide gas in concentration camps to kill millions of people (mostly Jews), including those who were previously German citizens. They also conducted inhuman research, testing mustard gas on prisoners. And in an ironic detail, Nazis were the ones who actually created the sarin gas that was used by Assad in his recent attack on a village. In fact, Hitler is truly one of the worst ever at using gas, even if he didn't use it on a battlefield like Saddam Hussein or Assad. 

Ashley Parker, the White House reporter for the Washington Post, exemplified the reaction of many in the press room to Spicer’s comments: 

.@AshleyRParker responding live to the Spicer stuff today pic.twitter.com/RCOG4Z2Crp

— Justin Green (@JGreenDC) April 11, 2017

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Designer uses AI to bring 54 Roman emperors to life

It's hard to stop looking back and forth between these faces and the busts they came from.

Meet Emperors Augustus, left, and Maximinus Thrax, right

Credit: Daniel Voshart
Technology & Innovation
  • A quarantine project gone wild produces the possibly realistic faces of ancient Roman rulers.
  • A designer worked with a machine learning app to produce the images.
  • It's impossible to know if they're accurate, but they sure look plausible.
Keep reading Show less

Ten “keys to reality” from a Nobel-winning physicist

To understand ourselves and our place in the universe, "we should have humility but also self-respect," Frank Wilczek writes in a new book.

Photo by Andy HYD on Unsplash
Surprising Science
In the spring of 1970, colleges across the country erupted with student protests in response to the Vietnam War and the National Guard's shooting of student demonstrators at Kent State University.
Keep reading Show less

This is your brain on political arguments

Debating is cognitively taxing but also important for the health of a democracy—provided it's face-to-face.

Antifa and counter protestors to a far-right rally argue during the Unite the Right 2 Rally in Washington, DC, on August 12, 2018.

Credit: Zach Gibson/AFP via Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • New research at Yale identifies the brain regions that are affected when you're in disagreeable conversations.
  • Talking with someone you agree with harmonizes brain regions and is less energetically taxing.
  • The research involves face-to-face dialogues, not conversations on social media.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

2020 ties for hottest year on record, says NASA and NOAA

In a joint briefing at the 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, NASA and NOAA revealed 2020's scorching climate data.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast