Slaying the Strawman

insanitybytes22 oftens write light-hearted posts that have an unexpected bite. Here below she makes fun of a couple of words.

Why should we want ad hominem and the strawman slain? When people start talking about somebody instead of an issue or something else besides the issue at hand, the discussion is almost over anyway. When we have to use those words to correct our opponent, we are not discussing anything of value. We are just trying to correct someone who almost always will refuse to be corrected.

Put yourself in the position of the offender (a position which most likely you have been in at least once). Unless we need to get somebody fired or arrested, what is the point of leveling accusations, ad hominem, against someone personally? If we need to use a strawman to attack someone’s argument, have we not implicitly conceded their argument is unassailable? Hence we have resorted to deceit.

Consider how much talk we have about Donald Trump. Instead of discussing the issues, his opponents have made him the issue. What Trump has done is or is trying to do does not seem to matter. All we hear about is what is wrong with Donald Trump. Trump is a bigot. Trump is vile. Trump is mean. Trump is arrogant. Trump is incompetent. What has Trump done? That doesn’t seem to matter.

So what can we do if we want to slay ad hominem and the strawman. Is it enough to refuse to use the words? No. We each must refuse to engage in ad hominem and the strawman arguments. When our opponent engages in ad hominem and the strawman, we must refuse to take the bait. We must strive to stick to the issues.

What are the issues? That depends upon what we stand for. Each of us must decide we what stand for — who and what we care about. If we don’t want to find ourselves engaged in ad hominem and strawman arguments, then we must argue for someone or something, not against someone or something. If don’t like our opponent’s position, then we must propose something we think is better and compare and contrast the merits of our proposals.

See, there's this thing called biology...

stawman2All in good fun here, but having been pretty active on the internet for some  20 years now, there is still this elusive beast I have been unable to slay. It is absolutely maddening when the things that need to die, refuse to die.

I speak of the ad hominem and the strawman, not the existence of such things, those are real enough, but the propensity some people have to launch such heady accusations, words one can toss about that allow people to say nothing at all. Even better, such nothingness sounds very smart, as if you are following the rules of logic when no one else is.

As a matter of fact, that right there is the very definition of an ad hominem. What irony. What a strawman.

Does anyone actually fire off  such accusations understanding the definitions? I suggest not. I suggest that in the entire history of…

View original post 207 more words

16 thoughts on “Slaying the Strawman

Add yours

  1. “Why should we want ad hominem and the strawman slain? When people start talking about somebody instead of an issue or something else besides the issue at hand, the discussion is almost over anyway. ”

    If you are interested in who is responsible for the Va. tragedy, I am publishing an ad hominem post tomorrow…

    When you listen to the news, it appears that President Trump is the culprit or strawman slain, instead of the activists.

    Ad hominem folly or truthful wisdom, you decide.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s early and I should probably noodle on this a little more before posting…but what the heck…

    I think it depends. For example, if a person makes a series of claims and those claims are proven false, that should go into the assessment when determining the veracity of their future claims. So they make another claim and you go, “Well, why should I believe that? You have a history pattern..” which is really just another way to say they are a liar (ad Hominem!). But it’s also a fair point.

    On the other hand, if STRICTLY facts are being presented, the history for veracity of the speaker doesn’t matter as much since each fact can be individually assessed. But that too depends. For example, a lot of conspiracy theories take on the approach of a hydra. Disprove one point and ten other posters join in with other links to “facts” which are either erroneous or eliminate context (and are therefore false). It becomes exhausting in the extreme to disprove….impossible in fact.

    The Truther movement was a good example of this, and “Trump collaborated with the Russians to win the election” is another (though much smaller one…don’t think anyone has gotten rich off the Trump’s-a-Russian-shill meme yet, but there were a lot of folks who capitalized on the Truther hysteria to include a former janitor who “smelled cordite” and low level water waste inspector with a degree in Chemistry who somehow knew more about metallurgy than metallurgical engineers…exception the ones misquoted and taken out of context. They were right…at least until they explained themselves later to calm the hysteria and then they were “covering up”. The victims in the Pentagon crash were identified by their fingerprints! How is that possible? Well…if you look at the actual article it says, “DNA fingerprints”. “Oh, now that you’ve spent an hour trying to find the original article look at these 500 other pieces…Clearly Professor Plum did it with the candlestick in the basement of the boiler room..”
    At any rate, the truth movement taught me a lot about the anatomy of a conspiracy theory and how it can spread).

    Also depends on the venue.
    There are places on the internet where you just aren’t going to get a word in if you swim against the tide. In some places, the objective IS to be an echo chamber where one side of the aisle congregates to agree wih one another and throw brickbats at the other side should they ever have the temerity to post.
    That can be quite fun if you’re in the in-crowd for that particular site. Of course, it doesn’t lead to much in the way of quality argument but that isn’t the objective so if you’re in one of those places you have to understand that, and should either change your tactic (unless your objective is cohesion for the people throwing brickbats at you) or post elsewhere.

    Guess that’s a long stream of consciousness ramble.
    Ah well, have to drive my youngest to school now. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Some people don’t have enough grace or of the truth to make them worth talking to.

      Matthew 7:6New American Standard Bible (NASB)

      6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

      When we listen to someone and engage them in conversation, we are giving them our attention and our time. That is valuable.

      Like

  3. “We each must refuse to engage in ad hominem and the strawman arguments. When our opponent engages in ad hominem and the strawman, we must refuse to take the bait. We must strive to stick to the issues.”

    You are right, Tom. I have learned this the hard way by taking the bait when atheists want to continually engage in red herrings (“avoiding the issue” fallacy)., then after answering them and finally want to stop the conversation because it’s so far off topic, I get accused of being evasive, deceitful, and dishonest!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing we never get use to because it is so difficult to accept is that God changes hearts, not us. We can debate an atheist all we want, but to be reborn they must seek the help of Jesus.

      Just keep doing what you are doing. Your logic is good; it is to Him they refuse to open the door. I am sure you pique the interest of seekers and reassure many Christians in their faith. That is what is important, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Not sure I fully understand how atheism enters into the theme of this post.. but, ok.
    Pertaining to the post, it’s a bit ironic (or paradoxical?) that a prime abuser of ad hoc strawman-ism and ad hominem-ism currently occupies the White House.

    See, here’s the quandary… his political base that voted for him holds his apparent maverick demeanor, tell-it-like-it-is, arbitrary persona, and bellicose bravado proclaiming that only he alone can make America great again (when anyone with a measure of common sense knows NO one can do that in real life… assuming you buy into the idea that America is not great already), as being his most attractive traits to be President. He will drain the swamp of Washington elites, who have done nothing but isolate the rural middle class and make them have unemployed pity parties and take opioids (which they apparently have money for that) because the market is not favoring coal anymore. In fact, it’s all these elements that have made his base ignore all the morality, racist, and misogynist questions as being minor or in consequential.

    Now… if the other side of those… perceptions… about Trump-the-man, assigns all those same elements as reasons to NOT like Trump-the-man… what’s wrong with that? You voted for the guy because of Trump-the-man, we dislike the Trump-the-man. The so-called issues are not the issue… because Trump-the-man is weighed more than anything for both his supporters and detractors.

    Like

    1. “See, here’s the quandary… his political base that voted for him holds his apparent maverick demeanor, tell-it-like-it-is, arbitrary persona, and bellicose bravado proclaiming that only he alone can make America great again (when anyone with a measure of common sense knows NO one can do that in real life… assuming you buy into the idea that America is not great already”

      Actual statement:

      We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And we will make America great again.”

      “Make America great again” is a vision. Whether you believe Trump to be a good leader or not, it is a characteristic of good leaders to have a vision because vision is what inspires people to action. Furthermore, it’s a unifying vision that everyone should be able to get behind. The fact you’ve taken his words, turned them around to be “he alone can make America great” says a lot about what industrial strength cog dissonance can do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Anon..,. in using that “vision” of making America great again presumes that America is not already great and for me that in itself is a major insult. So right at the get-go Trump has pissed off a segment of voters just for the campaign slogan alone. What he is actually wanting to say are two things… 1. He wants to make the rural middle class that has been economically “forgotten” as a result of changing market conditions not favoring traditional industries in those areas… great again. and… 2. He really wants to make Russia great again for his buddy Putin.

        Convince me otherwise.

        Like

        1. 1) Just writing this again to make sure I’m reading it right….
          “He wants to make the rural middle class that has been economically “forgotten” as a result of changing market conditions not favoring traditional industries in those areas… great again.”
          Why would I disagree or dispute that?
          Is that supposed to be a bad thing?

          2) I can neither prove nor disprove a non-existence.
          There’s no reason whatsoever to believe Putin is “Trump’s buddy”.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yep. That and the former first lady was “proud to be an American for the first time in her adult life” when her husband was elected. And then, somehow, this same country was then “hopeless” after Hillary lost.
          Yeah, it’s weird.

          -Comey on Russian intrusion into Hillary’s illegal server: We don’t need to look at the server because Russians hackers would perfectly cover their tracks.
          -Comey on Russian intrusion into the DNC’s server: We don’t need to look at the server because a third party assures us Russian hackers left their footprints all over it.

          It’s all weird.

          On statues, thought you might enjoy this:
          http://www.thediplomad.com/2017/08/statute-of-limitations-on-statue.html

          Like

    2. How does atheism enter into this post? Well, if you had ever debated some of the people Mel Wild has been debating I doubt you would have to ask. Basically, what it comes down to is this. From the perspective of most militant atheists, either you agree with them or you are an idiot.

      What about Donald Trump? Note you attacked him, and you have not said anything about what he has done. What don’t you like about him? Let’s take a sample. Maverick demeanor. Bellicose bravado. Drain the swamp. Ignore all the morality, racist, and misogynist questions. Which you summarized thus.

      You voted for the guy because of Trump-the-man, we dislike the Trump-the-man. The so-called issues are not the issue… because Trump-the-man is weighed more than anything for both his supporters and detractors.

      Effectively, you conceded you are making an ad hominem argument. You proposition is that Trump is so bad he should be removed from office. So you have lined up a bunch of strawmen you claim are real. Are your strawmen real men? Are your attacks on Trump’s character based in reality? To a small extent, they are.

      Consider the Apostle Peter. Even though Peter denied him three times, here is the guy that Jesus Christ picked to lead his apostles and His church. Why? For all his faults, Peter was willing. Sometimes, like a fool, he was willing to go where angels fear to tread, but more than most he had what it took to follow Christ. In fact, Jesus in part probably picked Peter because of his faults. He want us to see the work of the Holy Spirit through Peter.

      Consider why Peter denied Christ three times. He was confused and afraid. When he had taken up the sword and cut off a man’s ear in defense of His Lord, His Lord told Him to put away the sword. Jesus then allowed Himself to be arrested. Only then did Peter run. He did what we woud have done because he did not know what else to do.

      Nevertheless, Peter followed Jesus. Only because Peter followed Jesus was it possible that he could be questioned three times. Ashamed of his answers, he went away and wept.

      Of all the apostles, only John was standing at the cross when Jesus died. Nevertheless, when Jesus was arrested, John too was among the running. Because we are made of flesh, we find it difficult to do what is right.

      As men, none of us are perfect. Only the most foolish voted for Trump thinking he is perfect. As men we don’t have the power to instill the Holy Spirit into Donald Trump; we can only hope God will do that for us. We just had choice between H. Clinton and Donald Trump. Based upon their records, I chose Trump.

      Why did others vote as they did? That is pure speculation. Useless, for the most part.

      What has Trump done? Mostly, he has exercised executive power. Personally, I have enjoyed watching him dismantle Obama executive orders.

      What is the main criticism of Trump? Trump has been unable to get Congress to do very much. In spite of all Trump’s bravado, we should have expected this. The president can cajole Congress to pass certain bills, but as a whole, Congress has more power. If Congress does not want to be persuaded, the president cannot move it. The best the president can do is jawbone certain issues and persuade the People to pressure Congress. Since Congress is notorious for paying more attention to donors, that probably won’t work either. So I hope we will vote some those guys out of office.

      Anyway, what your ad hominem argument comes down to is you don like Trump’s bluster and bravado. He promises too much, he insults his opponents, and he is sometimes quite crude. So? Given a choice between H. Clinton and Donald Trump, I would still vote for Trump again. Jesus was not on the ballot. When He comes again, we won’t have a vote in the matter, and I am looking forward to that. We have created an awful government; it is only good because all the other types of government we can create are even worse.

      Like

      1. “Consider why Peter denied Christ three times. He was confused and afraid.”

        Well, I’ve denied Trump far more than three times and I will continue to deny him for that exact same reason. Unfortunately there is no one human to appeal to.

        It’s one thing discussing politics and even debating same when it’s worth doing so, but I cannot and will not compete with religious ideology. If you are referencing it to make an illustrative point I can understand that, as you have here with Paul. But quite honestly, every time you bring up your religious support mechanism there’s always some shadow of doom & gloom about the futility of man.

        Consider….

        “Jesus was not on the ballot. When He comes again, we won’t have a vote in the matter, and I am looking forward to that. We have created an awful government; it is only good because all the other types of government we can create are even worse.”

        I’m sorry. I can’t share in your pessimism and fatalism toward man. What I recall is that there’s suppose to be joyous celebration in the existence of the Almighty in one’s life; that having Him in our daily lives will make us cope, contain our fears of the unknown, and encourage us to relate better with each other.. thus fomenting a positive use of Christ and the Almighty to give us and those we touch a slightly better quality of life existence. I don’t follow this “the sooner the better in Christ’s return” idea… and I refuse to accept the requirement that man must wallow in guilt for being man. But.. that’s just me. We all have different spiritual interpretations.

        You know your theology well and I most certainly do not wish to assault that even if I wanted to and was capable of doing so, which I am not. There are times I feel your spiritual struggle as it relates to real life.

        Like

        1. @Doug

          You just compared Trump to Jesus Christ, God. Perhaps your expectations are out of whack.

          But quite honestly, every time you bring up your religious support mechanism there’s always some shadow of doom & gloom about the futility of man.

          We exist for a purpose, to glorify God. When we don’t do that, we don’t fulfill our purpose. What is our purpose? To love God and each other. Imagine a society where everyone hates and fears everyone else. There are times and places that have approached such complete misery.

          When we hate each other, we get far more than a shadow of doom & gloom about the futility of man.

          I’m sorry. I can’t share in your pessimism and fatalism toward man.

          What you quoted from my previous comment was specifically about government. When people have unrealistic expectations about what government can do, they promote more government in the hope they can disengage from their personal responsibilities to love their neighbors. They expect government to do that for them.

          Big government never produces the results we want. When we recklessly grow government, we risk empowering our leaders too much, so much that corrupt men strive to use the power of government to recreate society. Power tempts too many to transform society into their own personal Utopia. All those so tempted ever succeed in doing, however, is making a huge mess or producing stagnation.

          What I said about our awful government was an allusion to a quote often attributed to Winston Churchill. You may find this interesting. https://richardlangworth.com/worst-form-of-government

          What we have is a constitutional republic. The point of a republic is to limit the power of the majority to interfere in our lives. We are finite creatures; our wisdom is limited. We cannot elect anyone to love other people for us. Our leaders are just people like ourselves; they cannot love our neighbors for us. We have to love and help each other ourselves. That has nothing to do with pessimism, fatalism, or guilt. It just is. Fortunately, God is not so limited. He can love all of us, and we can all love Him.

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

The Way Online

Christian Insight Through God's Word

Conservative Government

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Night Wind

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

DeHavelle.com

Level-headed politics and science

Reclaim Our Republic

Knowledge Is Power

John Branyan

something funny is occurring

In Saner Thought

"It is the duty of every man, as far as his ability extends, to detect and expose delusion and error"..Thomas Paine

SGM

Faithful servants never retire. You can retire from your career, but you will never retire from serving God. – Rick Warren

The Latin Community

"You will be my witnesses." Acts 1:8

All Along the Watchtower

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you ... John 13:34

The Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince William County

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Derecho

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Bull Elephant

Conservative and libertarian news, analysis, and entertainment

Always On Watch: Semper Vigilans

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

The Family Foundation Blog - The Family Foundation

Welcome to Conservative commentary and Christian prayers from Gainesville, Virginia. That's OUTSIDE the Beltway.

Cry and Howl

Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off. I Kings 20:11

Twenty First Summer

Thoughtful. Positive. Relevant.

Dr. Luis C. Almeida

Christian College Professor

praythroughhistory

Heal the past. Free the present. Bless the future.

Dr. Lloyd Stebbins

Deliberate Joy

I Refuse To Follow Your Blog

Stop being a follower!!!

Lillie-Put

The place where you can find out what Lillie thinks

He Hath Said

is the source of all wisdom, and the fountain of all comfort; let it dwell in you richly, as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life

partneringwitheagles

WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THESE ENDS (LIFE,LIBERTY,AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT, AND TO INSTITUTE A NEW GOVERNMENT...

PUMABydesign001's Blog

“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.” Ronald Reagan.

nebraskaenergyobserver

The view from the Anglosphere

Freedom Through Empowerment

Taking ownership of your life brings power to make needed changes. True freedom begins with reliance on God to guide this process and provide what you need.

bluebird of bitterness

The opinions expressed are those of the author. You go get your own opinions.

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

Life: the time God gives you to determine how you spend eternity

altruistico

People Healing People

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

Silence of Mind

Where God Speaks and Creation Listens

My Daily Musing

With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample our enemies. Psalms 109:13

atimetoshare.me

My Walk, His Way - daily inspiration

Nickel Boy Graphics

Comic Strips (Some Funny, Some Serious)

Rudy u Martinka

What the world needs now in addition to love is wisdom

Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Kingdom Pastor

Living Freely In God's Kingdom

The Life Project

Finding Clear and Simple Faith

In My Father's House

"...that where I am you may be also." Jn.14:3

cookiecrumbstoliveby

Life through the eyes of "cookie"

The Lions Den

"Blending the colorful issues of life with the unapologetic truth of scripture." ColorStorm

%d bloggers like this: