Logical fallacies in election season #1 – The rhetorical strawman

Folks, during this election season, you are unlikely to find me using outmoded and not very useful terms like “liberal”, “conservative”, “left wing” or “right wing”. They have been so debased and distorted over decades as to be meaningless. Quite often they are used as fallacious strawmen, sloganeering abuse that forms part of a disconnected word salad of vituperation aimed by partisans at real and perceived opponents. Just this week I was hit with word salad here on FB by an authoritarian nitwit trying the political equivalent of the Gish Gallop on me. Google “Gish Gallop” for details on that rhetorical or debating technique, more commonly used by crackpot Christian creationists. (It’s not that I am lazy, but it’s not a concise explanation).
The only distinction I find particularly useful is between authoritarian and libertarian modes of thinking. I find some use in the distinction between progressive and regressive modes of thinking, but that, too, has been hijacked to some extent by the strawman fallacy manufacturers.
So, if the response to discussions about politics doesn’t go much further than “I hate liberals” or “I hate conservatives”, that is going to get one of two reactions from me. Most likely, especially if I am busy, I will ignore it. Some of the time I may ask for a detailed explanation to support this viewpoint. And if i find that people are engaging in strawman fallacies or other defective rhetorical techniques, I am going to say so. For example. proposing a tax increase on some segment of the population does not automatically make somebody a Marxist, no matter what some internet web sites may claim. People making that claim need to read and understand a lot more about world political history.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Healthprose pharmacy reviews