Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The straw-man apocalypse, or: How not to convince me that I'm wrong

One difficulty that I have found in arguing with progressives is that when they want to attack my position, they often do not actually attack my position, but instead set up a straw man or even a whole army of them. By "straw man," I mean the following:
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.
For instance, the other evening, I was informed that libertarians agree with Republican flip-flopping on health care, the "get your government hands off of my Social Security and Medicare" viewpoint, crony capitalism, the religious right's social positions, and even drug prohibition (which, in case you didn't know, is entirely the fault of the private sector and of limited-government types). Setting up straw men does not make the other side look wrong; instead, it makes the side setting them up look either ignorant or dishonest.

See also The straw atheist and the straw Christian.

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