Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Straw Man Fallacy

"Some people say that ..."

Thus begins my first in a (probably sporadic) series of musings about the way people, and the media, and even we ourselves mislead us. If you're a seasoned skeptic, then you probably don't need to be reminded of this, but the newly skeptical, and anyone wanting a refresher on critical thinking can always use a reminder - so I'm reminding myself, and you can tag along too!

As far as I can tell - this is a form of "Straw Man Fallacy". The "some people" is the straw man, in that they don't necessarily exist. Who are these people? Can the speaker be more explicit? Do the actual people behind the "some people" moniker represent a significant segment that is worthy of respect due to expertise or sheer size?

When discussing an issue, always follow up on the straw man argument - find out who "some people" are - ask why what "some people say" is relevant to the discussion at hand - determine whether what "some people say" is compelling ... or discard it. The rational argument of meaningful things deserve better than what "some people" say about them.

For more - see Top 20 Logical Fallacies at The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe

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