Saturday, January 10, 2004

The Straw Man

Persuing the Internet this evening, musing and googling on the Straw Man fallacy, I discovered this handy rhetorical fallacy reference.
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.

Along with the Straw Man, the tutorial details about 40 other common fallacies, with examples. If you're not already a rhetorical pro, it may we worth your perusal and bookmark, especially as election season kicks in, and the arguments begin in earnest (as if they're not already ongoing).