Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Suppose you wanted to win an argument without actually refuting the opponent’s position – what would you do? Well, you could try to set up a "straw man".
To "set up a straw man" is to create a position that is easy to refute, and then attribute that position to the opponent to make him look bad. In other words, you could depict your opponent (or his ideas) in such a caricatured way that it trivializes them and they become easier to attack/refute.
Examples: "Scientists suppose that living things simply fell together by chance" - this formulation willfully ignores the central Darwinian insight, that Nature accumulates changes over time up by saving what works and discarding what doesn't. or you could try: "Anti-war protestors walk around with their scruffy hair, slovenly dress, and sloppy thinking saying "Peace" like that was somehow a solution to world political problems".
Subtitle of an interesting book named “Talking Right” by Geoffrey Nunberg: "How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating, Volvo-Driving, New York Times-Reading, Body-Piercing, Hollywood-Loving, Left-Wing Freak Show" http://www.amazon.com/Talking-Right-Conservatives-Latte-Drinking-Hollywood-Loving/dp/1586483862
Is it a coincidence that I am finding straw man examples coming only from the Conservative camp?
Sir Dayvd ( out there, being Human ) of Oxfordshire
Posted by dkWells