Monday, January 9, 2012

Straw man Debate tactics: A rant.

It's easy to not be charitable in addressing the argument in which you want to attack. Personal barbs, cheap shots, and one liners can be irresistible when presented with the opportunity to land a quick but perhaps ineffective blow. I'm guilty of taking cheap shots when I'm annoyed/pissed off with a an opponent who will not stick to the subject matter or constantly shifts from position to position, drags in irrelevant facts, and expects you to have answers to the most ridiculous of scenarios/questions. The most egregious offense to me is to purposely restate the initial position articulated into something so pathetically weak and malnourished or just plain wrong,  move to attack the newly formed thing, then claim some sort of victory after knocking down the watered down version of the original position. The move is not an act of charity. It's an act of cowardice. It screams of intellectual vacuousness and is often peddled by loud and obnoxious time wasters. Persons that adopt the style of straw man apologetics whinge about the mood of the person they are talking to, drag in race/gender when it's not needed, or complain incessantly about meaningless irrelevant bull shit. If they had better arguments, they would provide them, rather offer crying and tons of distractions. The critiques of your position are often riddled with inerrant, poorly constructed fits which contain zero intellectual content. In short, they develop their debating skills by misappropriating the other position, argue against their own bull shit and behave as though they are superior.  

Respectful debate requires charitable re-telling of the other position(s). Failure to meet the task to me is grounds for terminating the debate, no matter the subject or the person speaking about it. Another thing which works my nerves is after you state your position multiple times, the other person continues on with the watered down version of your position, ignores substantive objections, facts, corrections and so forth. They continue trolling down the path of straw man tactics. Every single straw man is expected to be burned and to be honest, the work can be tiring and infuriating. If I determine based on evidence and solid reason(s) that's where the debate will go, I reserve the right to end it. It's not a position of weakness but it's the realization of understanding how valuable my time is to me. I cannot get it back so I need not waste it dealing with straw men debaters unless I become a pyromaniac. I need to keep my blood pressure down anyway.  

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