Have you met Mr. Straw Man?


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Have you met Mr. Straw Man?

Quickie from Wiki: “A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.” Straw man - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The straw man fallacy is an often used fallacy in the United States because American citizens have a low level of intellectual sophistication.

One recent use of this fallacy is that Guantanamo detainees are terrorists and thus too dangerous for detention on American soil.

Obviously American prisons contain many bad guys from whom the public must be protected. Also most of these bad guys are released while still alive. Also records indicate that that many of these released become recidivists.

The FBI scares us by saying that these terrorists represent a different kind of detention problem.

The “Fallacy Files” web site {http://www.fallacyfiles.org/} provides an important introduction to both formal and informal fallacies. I think their work on informal fallacies being the most important for our needs today. It is the informal fallacies that we must learn to recognize.

The early settlers had to learn the sign and behavior of the wolf and bear but it is the informal fallacy that today’s citizen must learn. When not recognized the manipulative sophistication of those who wish to control our society will cause us similar damage.

Those members of our early American settlers were required to understand many things about their natural habitation in order to survive. These early frontier settlers had primarily natural conditions that threatened their existence. They worried about and learned to understand the signs of the wolf and the bear also the clouds and the weather in general. Their survival depended upon it.

Today our well being, if not our very survival, depends upon our ability to understand the society we live in and the fellow citizens that occupy our space with us. Our needs for understanding our environment especially that part of it that contains fellow citizens has become acute because our fellows have become expert at manipulating our environment. If we do not understand how these things are being manipulated we are the losers.

Many of us who were first introduced to the concept ‘fallacy’ when we took a college course on ‘Logic’ found the matter to be boring. It appears, from what I hear, that many students took away from those classes distaste for everything related to the concepts of ‘logic’ and the associated ‘fallacies’. That is unfortunate and is perhaps an indication of why it is so important for all individuals to become self-actualizing self-learners after their school daze is over.

This wonderful phrase “the ubiquity of ambiguity” I found on a web site that I think all individuals who understand the importance of CT (Critical Thinking) might wish to visit.

What I am trying to say is that the folks living in the early days had to know the habits of the wolf and the bear to survive. Today we have to know the habits of those who wish to manipulate us by using logical fallacies.