Betteridge's law

From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



Named after British technology journalist Ian Betteridge who wrote about the phenomenon in a February 2009 online article,[1] although the general concept is older.


Proper noun[edit]

Betteridge's law

  1. (journalism) An adage stating that any headline ending in a question mark can be correctly answered by the word "no".
    Synonym: Davis's law
    • 2012 March 3, Jon Evans, “Pair Programming Considered Harmful?”, in TechCrunch[2], archived from the original on 15 July 2017:
      No, no, hell no. The true answer is that there is no one answer; that what works best is a dynamic combination of solitary, pair, and group work, depending on the context, using your best judgement. Paired programming definitely has its place. (Betteridge’s Law strikes again!) In some cases that place may even be “much of most days.” But insisting on 100 percent pairing is mindless dogma, and like all mindless dogma, ultimately counterproductive.
    • 2014 February 6, James Temple, “Will Google Translate Let Us Talk to Aliens and Dolphins?: Google’s Peter Norvig Says, Umm, No”, in Recode[3], archived from the original on 12 November 2018:
      Conforming to Betteridge’s law of headlines, the answer is no – or at least, not yet.
    • 2014 March 25, Jonathan Zittrain, “No, Barack Obama isn’t Handing Control of the Internet over to China: The Misguided Freakout over ICANN”, in The New Republic[4], archived from the original on 30 March 2014:
      And from the National Journal: “When U.S. Steps Back, Will Russia and China Control the Internet?” As Betteridge’s Law of Headlines suggests, the answer is no.
    • 2015, Philip Gooden, “Arts”, in Skyscrapers, Hemlines and the Eddie Murphy Rule: Life’s Hidden Laws, Rules and Theories, London, New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury Academic, →ISBN, page 86:
      An earlier and slightly mysterious version of Betteridge's law applies to the rarefied world of particle physics. Hinchliffe's Rule – the mystery lies in who Hinchliffe is or was – states that any scientific paper or website posting whose title ends with a question mark is to be answered with a 'no' or, at best, 'probably not'.
    • 2016, Tim Holmes, “How to Create Great News Headlines”, in Subediting and Production for Journalists: Print, Digitial, Social (Media Skills), 2nd edition, Abingdon, Oxon., New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, page 88:
      Andrew Marr believes that a headline with a question mark at the end is 'often a scare story, or an attempt to elevate some run-of-the-mill piece of reporting into a national controversy and, preferably, a national panic.' (Marr 2005: 253). His advice to readers is – 'If the headline asks a question, try answering "no"' (loc. cit.). This motto has since been parlayed into a 'law' – Betteridge's Law, named for Ian Betteridge after he wrote a piece for Technovia questioning the validity of a news item published under a headline that ended in a question mark [].
    • 2018 February 5, Ally Fogg, “This is the real reason more men are dying of prostate cancer”, in The Guardian[5], London, archived from the original on 12 June 2018:
      For the avoidance of doubt, and with a nod to Betteridge’s law, it is not true that the reason prostate cancer research receives half as much funding as breast cancer, despite a higher mortality rate, is because of bias against men.

Alternative forms[edit]

Coordinate terms[edit]



  1. ^ Ian Betteridge (23 February 2009), “TechCrunch: Irresponsible Journalism”, in Technovia[1], archived from the original on 2009-02-26.

Further reading[edit]