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A public service post: the definition of Staw Man Fallacy

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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:11 PM
Original message
A public service post: the definition of Staw Man Fallacy
Description of Straw Man

The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of "reasoning" has the following pattern:

1. Person A has position X.
2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted version of X).
3. Person B attacks position Y.
4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person.
Examples of Straw Man

1. Prof. Jones: "The university just cut our yearly budget by $10,000."
Prof. Smith: "What are we going to do?"
Prof. Brown: "I think we should eliminate one of the teaching assistant positions. That would take care of it."
Prof. Jones: "We could reduce our scheduled raises instead."
Prof. Brown: " I can't understand why you want to bleed us dry like that, Jones."

2. "Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can't understand why he wants to leave us defenseless like that."

3. Bill and Jill are arguing about cleaning out their closets:
Jill: "We should clean out the closets. They are getting a bit messy."
Bill: "Why, we just went through those closets last year. Do we have to clean them out everyday?"
Jill: "I never said anything about cleaning them out every day. You just want too keep all your junk forever, which is just ridiculous."

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:13 PM
Response to Original message
1. So, you're saying Nizkor's site is the final word on logic
:evilgrin:
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TrogL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:15 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. bad slackmaster
Edited on Tue Oct-07-03 05:16 PM by TrogL
(not enough spanking)

bad :spank:
bad :spank:
bad :spank:
bad :spank:
bad :spank:
bad :spank:
bad :spank:
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. NO - I'm saying there is UNIVERSAL AGREEMENT
On the definition of the Straw Man logical fallacy.

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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:51 PM
Response to Reply #3
14. OK - you got me - You > me.
God I've been fighting all day long I was completely had by your subtle straw man humor.

*bows*

You are superior, I am inferior. :D
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wyldwolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:27 PM
Response to Original message
4. I see a lot of people throw "straw man" around incorrectly...
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:36 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. Indeed
A 'clue' for spotting one in a thread is to look for "that's not what I said" type posts, then look immediately above it.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:40 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. My favorite reply is "Go back and read what I actually wrote"
Or a plain old "I don't recall ever writing that. Cite, please."
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Padraig18 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Hehe
I seldom SAY IT, but I usually mutter to myself, "When you learn to read with comprehension, go back and read my post again and THEN comment." :evilgrin:
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. I prefer...
"bite me."

:D
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Iverson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:46 PM
Response to Original message
7. Here's what I tell my students.
The essence of straw man is unfair restatement.
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. I was going to make a straw man argument to your definition...
as a joke, but I'm too tired... :D
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. Perhaps an All Straw Man thread in the Lounge some time?
It might be as much fun as a Red Herring thread.
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never cry wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #11
18. So, Red Herring thread are the beat all end all??
:evilgrin:
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Personaly I vote for the Ad Hominem thread :)
I'm sure more than a few people would like to get on that thread with me after today. :)
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never cry wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 06:20 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. So, EVERYBODY would like to get on that thread??
Sorry, cudn't resist.

It's your idea, please do start a straw man thread in the lounge, I am sure it'll be a winner.

Thanks for the post, btw. I never knew the straw man definition. I was in a heated discussion this morning on mt fantasy football league message board on morality and politics and was facing many such attacks.
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:22 PM
Response to Reply #20
27. Lounge thread is up! :D
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. Well that's because your're a MORAN
:D
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HFishbine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:51 PM
Response to Original message
12. Well
If you don't like Clark, I hope you'll be happy with four more years of Bush.
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DrFunkenstein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:51 PM
Response to Original message
13. Stephen's Guide
Straw Man

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Definition:

The author attacks an argument which is different from, and
usually weaker than, the opposition's best argument.

Examples:

(i) People who opposed the Charlottown Accord probably just
wanted Quebec to separate. But we want Quebec to stay in
Canada.

(ii) We should have conscription. People don't want to enter
the military because they find it an inconvenience. But they
should realize that there are more important things than
convenience.

Proof:

Show that the opposition's argument has been
misrepresented by showing that the opposition has a stronger
argument. Describe the stronger argument.

http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/straw.htm

I prefer the Nizkor, but the Stephen's Guide makes a nice supplement.
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:57 PM
Response to Original message
15. Bush: straw man extraordinaire!
Edited on Tue Oct-07-03 05:58 PM by Selwynn
Me: You're plan to simulate the economy is faulty.
Bush: So your position is that a bad economy is good, because your "with the terrorists and hate america."

:D
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GiovanniC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:14 PM
Response to Reply #15
24. Yes, If He Only Had a Brain
The Ultimate Strawman
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. NO! Now I've got that song stuck in my head.
Just as easy as fishin'
I could be a computer technician
If I only had a brain!
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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
16. Here's a perfect example
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Selwynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. It may be wrong, right, or many things, but it is not a straw man...
Why?

Becuase I am the stater of the original premise. The original premise cannot be a "staw man" to itself.

You can disagree, think the position is ignorant, poorly argued or flawed by many other logical fallacies - staw man however, is not one of them.

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MGKrebs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 06:40 PM
Response to Original message
21. So what's it called when
someone presents an argument, and when it is refuted, they shift their premise to something else?

I'm not saying you did that, I didn't even read the linked thread
^^up there^^.

I call it annoying, but there is probably a more technical term. I have a friend who does this all the time. It is SO frustrating.

To wit;

"The UN is irrelevent."

"Just because it couldn't stop the Iraq war doesn't mean it's irrelevent."

They can't enforce their own resolutions."

"Maybe someday they will. (Although we should be careful what we wish for)"."

"I mean the UN as it exists today."

Oh, well in that case...."
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Forkboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:05 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. that just happened to me
someone made an arguement that the UN supported something.I showed that they clearly didn't support what was claimed,then the poster claimed,"too little too late" :shrug:
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:17 PM
Response to Reply #21
26. That's called Moving the Goalpost
Or a Goalpost Move.

HTH
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
28. Here's a nice fresh Straw Man from another thread
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MGKrebs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:37 PM
Response to Original message
29. More 'moving the goalposts', or just
changing the subject:

"Clinton lied."

"Bush lies practically everyday."

"Well, all politicians lie."


Grrr.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-07-03 07:41 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. Those are Tu Quoques or Appeal to Common Practice
Edited on Tue Oct-07-03 07:41 PM by slackmaster
Sort of the Peewee Herman fallacy. Everybody does it, or you do it too.
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