The Straw Man Game

Prev Next

The Straw Man Game
Wikipedia defines a straw man as, "… a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man". That's a reasonably complicated sentence we could shorten to say, a straw man argument twists subjects to win. Here's an example.
"I'd rather have a dog than a cat." "Why do you hate cats?"
Straw men are everywhere and they are getting more difficult by the day to identify. Take for example the premise of some that sound quality is defined by the level of noise and/or distortion. That's a big straw man argument that suggests if you can hear a difference then that difference should—nay, must!—be reflected in a measurement. And its logical corollary that if you cannot measure a change in noise and/or distortion, ergo there cannot be a difference in what one hears. The problem here is the mixing of truths—twisting one truth to prop up a false argument. It is true we can hear some levels of noise and/or distortion and equally true when we hear differences of a specific type we can measure higher levels of noise and distortion. That does not mean noise and/or distortion are all-encompassing any more than all people who prefer dogs cannot be said to hate cats. When you hear someone proposing inviolate If/Then statements it's probably a good idea to remember the Straw Man Game.
Back to blog
Paul McGowan

Founder & CEO

Never miss a post


Related Posts

1 of 2