Published On: Sat, Oct 24th, 2015

Why It’s Impossible To Go Back In Time And Kill Baby Hitler

doctor_who_hitler Hitler and the TARDIS. (Credit BBC


We asked @nytmag readers: If you could go back and kill Hitler as a baby, would you do it? (What’s your response?)

In the discussion of hypothetical time travel, someone almost always brings up Hitler. After all, if you’ve got access to a nuclear DeLorean or blue police box, who better to eliminate from the annals of time? In internet conversations, Godwin’s law is the observation that in any online argument someone will eventually bring up Hitler to make a point. “Yeah? You know who else liked vanilla ice cream? Hitler!” So when the New York Times decided to poll readers on whether they would kill baby Hitler, they enacted the Godwin’s law of time travel. It was only a matter of time…

 Read the full story at WSJ, by Brian Koberlein


42 percent said that they would kill baby Hitler, 28 percent were undecided.

30 percent said they wouldn’t not only because of their unwillingness to kill a baby, but also because they were afraid of triggering the “grandfather paradox.” This paradox says that an attempt to prevent a particular event in history by using time travel can lead to unexpected consequences.

The hashtag “#babyhitler” became popular on Twitter, drawing many responses.

“I would absolutely have gone back in time to kill Hitler, although unfortunately, killing baby Hitler would not stop the rise of fascism”

“at the very least i would definitely unfollow baby hitler”

“I’m assuming isn’t an early-trending Christmas toy.”

Another tweeter, expressing reservations about the entire discussion, said: “At the very least I would not follow a conversation about baby Hitler on twitter.” Indeed, many simply expressed surprise that such a topic was trending on Twitter at all.


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