I remember when I was a kid the kind of arguments that would arise. I hear other kids doing the same thing all the time. One child makes a claim and the other child responds, “soooo!” Stumped! I mean, how do you respond to such a cleverly crafted response. There is so much depth that even if you do think of something else to add you will most likely here it again, “soooo!”
We would like to think that we grow out of that but the truth is many don’t. Sure it would be silly for two adults in a conversation to say “soooo” to one another but has that ever stopped us. We just change the phrasing but the result is the same. This is all I can think of when I hear the term “straw man”.
Recently, Rook Hawkins of the Rational Responders, posted a comment to one of Kevin’s posts concerning some of his historical claims. In his comment Rook uses the term “straw man” seven times. Now this is isn’t meant to be a slam against Rook since I personally have nothing against the kid but it was his use of the term that got me thinking about how it has become the new “sooo!”
The way Rook, myself and many others have come to use the term “straw man” is as a tool to simply disregard any argument we don’t want to, or can’t handle. Here is how you do it. Some one poses a question or argument and instead of responding to it you claim that they are simply setting up a straw man to be knocked down. You don’t owe a straw man a response and therefore automatically win the argument, Pretty neat, huh?
I know that you might be thinking, “but James, isn’t this post just a straw man to distract people from the fact that your claims are sometimes just as weak?”
And all I have to say to that is…sooooooooooo!