Monday, 15 December 2008

Strawman Arguments

When arguing their point of view dumb people rely heavily on what's known as Strawman Arguments. When attempting to refute another's point of view they often misrepresent that person's position and take it out of context. This "strawman" then becomes the point of refutation.

For example,

John says: We need curfews for our children.

Dumb person says: So you think our kids should be locked up!

This then becomes the point of debate, or at the very least a distraction from what was really being discussed.

The general strategy of the dumb person is to score points with extreme rhetoric. Since that appeals to the lesser instincts, it is part and parcel with how dumb people engage in critical discourse.

Most of the time dumb people end up rehashing the same strawman argument in different words when repeated attempts are made to correct their misinterpretation.

But attempts at clarification usually fail miserably and instead add the fodder necessary for additional strawman arguments.

For example,

John says: We need curfews for our children.

Dumb person says: So you think our kids should be locked up!

John says: No. I simply meant that kids need to be home by a certain time.

Dumb person says: And what time would that be?

John says: I don't know... it depends.

Dumb person says: So you aren't sure of the times unless they happen to fit your schedule. Sounds controlling to me!

This is clearly a losing battle.

Now, if John starts to get frustrated with the dumb person he'll probably be accused of being overly defensive because he's not getting his own way. The frustrated anger then becomes another point of contention to be used against John.

Another very common strawman argument is related to sexuality itself, and how soon to have sex. For example,

Rebecca says: Do you think it's okay to have sex on the first date?

Dumb person says: No. I want to be respected and not have a guy use me for sex!

This is a very common fallacy in dating circles, actually. Fortunately, many eventually grow out of such nonsense thinking, but unfortunately many do not.

For a politician, dealing with strawman arguments can be especially exasperating. Barack Obama was forced to repeatedly refute ridiculous claims made against him. So much so that it detracted a lot from what he was campaigning for. But it was necessary because if he chose to ignore it his opponents would have used that against him as well. The Republican lie-machine would have been shouting: If he's not refuting it it must be true!

Although the Republican lie-machine isn't stupid, many voters are - which is what they were targeting.

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