The strawman comment

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The strawman comment

Postby Rick Wilson » Tue May 03, 2005 4:32 pm

I don't have a spell (shesh spelled "spell" wrong at first) check where I am now so forgive any errors please. :oops:

I thought I would start yet another thread on this subject.

Why another thread? :?

I think we would all agree that the rest have become an entanglement of many many issues.

Not that airing these issues is a bad thing. I think getting things out in the open is really the first step to resolving them. If they stay tucked away then they just fester and get worse.

So my hope for the other threads is that good things come from them in the end.

Okay this thread.

This thread is for the detached discussion of the strawman debating ploy without reference to the intentions or use of the term in any other thread or post.

Here people will post their opinions on what it means to them and why.

Perhaps this will explain the reactions on the other threads but I would hope we could do this without refering to the other threads or any other person.

The strawman comment is a debating ploy.

But what is the strategy behind this ploy.

Or rather, why do they use it in debates?

Stating someone has made a strawman comment in a debate is used to win the debate.

How does it do that?

The purpose is to undermine the credibility of the person making an argument.

If I can get the people to believe this person has made a strawman argument then they will give less credit to the other arguments.

But how does believing a person has made a strawman argument undermine a person's credibility?

As strawman argument is an unethical debating tactic in itself.

If a person uses a strawman argument then they have made an unethical argument.

If you acept that person is using the ploy of strawman arguments then you accept that person is unethical.

If you accept that person is unethical then you would hardly give credit to any other argument they may make -- why would you?

If they do not give credit to the other arguments then you win the debate.

Okay so that is my thinking on the statement someone has made a strawman argument.

Clearly this opinion is not shared by others.

I would encourage those who have a different opinion to post theirs.

If you share my take on it then their isn't any reason to post.

This is not intended to be a pole where the highest number believeing one thing wins.

This is an attempt to have a detached presentation on this term.

Hopefully this will share viewpoints.

Again I would hope no one would refer to the other posts or any living or dead individuals :lol: . This is simply a place to state what YOU think the strawman debating ploy entails.

I hope my ramblings have made the intent clear.
Rick Wilson

Postby JimHawkins » Tue May 03, 2005 4:48 pm

I thought it was clear that, according to Bill, he used this as a 'tactic' to win the discussion. I can post the quote if I have to.

Doesn't that make this clear?

According to Bill, he was simply using this as a 'tactic', meaning, as I understand the term, to label Van's arguments in such a way as to discredit them without actually having to directly address the points made.

This IMO happens with Bill quite often in one form or another and in the context of his ‘winning’ comment it makes perfect sense. And while I agree with Bill that it might help win an argument, in some peculiar sense of the word, I do not think that it even begins to aid in learning and finding the truth of any given subject of debate. In the future using this tactic should prove less helpful.

Van is not the main issue IMO it is how Bill debates. Bill is a moderator and expected to rise above such tactics. That, as I see it, is what is at issue here and is being glossed over with all kinds of 'noise'.
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Let me ask you one question Rick?

Postby gmattson » Tue May 03, 2005 5:59 pm

If Laird, Van, Stryke or Jim made the statement that Bill was using "strawman" argument techniques, would you have posting this thread with your current understanding of the term?

Be honest now. :)
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Calling BS here...

Postby RA Miller » Tue May 03, 2005 7:55 pm


Sorry if I sound harsh here, but you completely misunderstand the relationship of "strawman" to ethics.

Some people are very good at feinting in sparring. Feinting is an intent to decieve. Any intent to deceive is a lie. Anyone who feints, therefore is a liar. A liar is someone completely lacking in integrity.
So, QED (quod erat demonstratum) anyone who fents in a match is a lying scumbag.

You've gone one step farther. When Bill said, to paraphrase, 'good feint, but I'm not falling for it', someone looked up a single definition of strawman and said, another paraphrase, 'Bill called Van a liar.'

Didn't happen and it's started shitstorm of panty twisting. Too bad.

You know what? Van does use strawman arguments and paints with a broad brush and many, many other things to get his point across. It's a valid point, so I don't have an issue with how he gets it into other people's heads...

And you know what else? Van has a very fine sense of honor, shows with every post a commitment to his goals and the safety of his students. He is a gentleman in the old sense of the word and a noble man in every sense.

Could I hold that opinion if I thought he was unethical? I coudn't and he's not.

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Postby Rick Wilson » Wed May 04, 2005 4:19 am

On the "The Strawman Comment" thread I posted:


“You, Rick and I need to agree to disagree.”

Done. 8)

Promised Bill it was done, I will not comment on it further.

Thank you all for your input.
Rick Wilson

Postby Van Canna » Wed May 04, 2005 1:32 pm

You know what? Van does use strawman arguments and paints with a broad brush and many, many other things to get his point across. It's a valid point, so I don't have an issue with how he gets it into other people's heads...

Well said, my friend. And this is really the key.

We get passionate and step into the arena where you need a ‘broadsword’ at times.

In spite of the accusations by Gem and Bill [hopefully now resolved] It has never been my Intention, ever, to use ‘strawman’ arguments. If it comes out that way at the perception of others, for the many reasons that Rick enumerated, then so be it.

But, as you write, I believe the points I make are valid, and backed up by literature and practical instructors of the street encounter persuasion. And so I hammer home those concepts, over and over.

And as Rick points out, at times this can back someone into a corner, to the point where they must resort to resurrecting the strawman. So be it.

As we have seen, it makes for good entertainment and generation of lots of traffic for the forums, to benefit George and our group.

And these are my last words on the strawman, so please_ everyone ‘buzz off’ _

Rory, as to your kind words, you know that the feelings are mutual.

I recognized you as one of the finest, when first spotting you at camp, coming out of the limo, and opening your arms in a friendly hug, a very noble _ old world gentlemanly gesture. Hope to see you again this year. :D
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