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Author Topic: The Straw Man Arguer  (Read 12248 times)

Anthony Allen Roach

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The Straw Man Arguer
« on: July 12, 2012, 07:26:24 PM »

I'm not sure where to put this.  It seems this is the best place.

One type of argument to watch out for is the "straw man" argument.  The straw man argument is another type of logical fallacy. 
In the "straw man" the arguer misstates, either intentionally or inadvertently, the opponent's argument.  The straw man arguer then challenges claims in the misstated hypothesis or argument, rather than the actual position.  Of course, the original argument hasn't been refuted, just the misstated argument, although the audience is misled.

One internet blog did this recently.  For example, TIGHAR's hypothesis is that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan failed to find Howland Island and continued on a course along the navigational line in their last received transmission to Gardner Island.  That line led them to uninhabited Gardner Island where Amelia landed the Electra safely on the island’s fringing reef.  Instead, the straw man arguer misstates TIGHAR's hypothesis, arguing that TIGHAR claims that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan flew directly from Lae, New Guinea to Gardner Island.  The straw man arguer then refutes this misstated hypothesis, by pointing out that Fred Noonan would have realized during the night that he was so far off course.

The straw man argument is not just limited to TIGHAR's hypothesis.  Currently, the wikipedia article for Amelia Earhart contains the following misstated gem:  "In 1966, CBS Correspondent Fred Goerner published a book claiming Earhart and Noonan were captured and executed when their aircraft crashed on the island of Saipan, part of the Mariana Islands archipelago, while it was under Japanese occupation."  But a complete read of Mr. Goerner's book shows that this is a misstatement of his hypothesis.  Although in the beginning Mr. Goerner believed that the Electra crashed at Saipan, he revised his belief by the end of the book.  By the end of this book, Fred Goerner's hypothesis was that Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan went down at Mili Atoll, and then were taken by the Japanese to Saipan.

Beware of the straw man argument!  The more complex the theory, hypothesis or the argument is, the easier it is to misstate it.
"Six the Hard Way."

Dave Potratz

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Re: The Straw Man Arguer
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2012, 12:30:40 PM »

Agree BIG-time, Anthony.  Sometimes it would seem that TIGHAR is pursued by a veritable army of "Straw Men".     :'(

Sometimes makes you wanna say,  "How 'about a little FIRE, Scarecrow?"

Marty, would this be appropriate on our defacto "Fallacies of Logic" thread?


Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: The Straw Man Arguer
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2012, 06:37:16 PM »

Marty, would this be appropriate on our defacto "Fallacies of Logic" thread?

Let's let it stand here for now. 

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