Monday, February 9, 2009

Internet Debate 101: Straw Men / Ad Hominem Combo Move

This is the first in what will be a totally random feature on how to win at that most noble sport of kings, internet arguing.

Today's lesson involves creating a strawman argument. This is the practice of attributing a statement or argument to an opponent that they didn't actually make, then attacking it. This is more effective when the "opponent" is either not around to defend himself or is a collection of people rather than an individual. When called on this chicanery, simply aver that the caller simply doesn't get it, preferably while disparaging his intelligence.


Commenter #1: Capitalists have been claiming for years that getting rid of all regulation over private industry would ensure economic growth. Clearly this has not happened, and they look like fools for ever having said it.

Commenter #2: When has anyone anywhere ever claimed that? And you do realize that Freddy Mac and Fannie Mae were some of the most heavily regulated entities in history. And that they were overseen directly by Congress. And that they still failed?

Commenter #1: If you're too stupid to do your own research don't expect me to do it for you. The evidence is everywhere and anyone with half a brain knows it.

Congratulations Commenter #1! You have mastered the art of the Strawman/Ad Hominem attack combo move! You are a winner!

(*) The conversation that follows was definitely not inspired by an actual exchange I once had. Nope, not at all.

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