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英语语法:233 What Is a Straw Man Argument?

时间:2010-11-19 03:09来源:互联网 提供网友:jk6218   字体: [ ]
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by Mignon Fogarty

Political ads and analysis are reaching a fever pitch, so it seems like a good time to talk about the phrase “straw man.” What does it mean when two people are debating and one accuses the other of putting forth1 a straw man argument?
The podcast edition of this article was sponsored by StyleEase Software. Get 15% off StyleEase for APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian Style Software at (or, with the coupon2 code: ggpodcast)

What Is a Straw Man Argument?
I always think of the Straw Man from the Wizard of Oz, but that's not where the term comes from. In its simplest definition, it's the name of a logical fallacy, which means that if you carefully dissect3 the argument or statement, it doesn't make sense. Debaters invoke4 a straw man when they put forth an argument--usually something extreme or easy to argue against--that they know their opponent doesn't support. You put forth a straw man because you know it will be easy for you to knock down or discredit5. It's a way of misrepresenting your opponent's position.
It's as if you took a flaming scarecrow, threw it onto the debate floor, yelled “Look, it's my opponent's dangerous straw man,” and then you appeared to save the day by dousing6 the flames with water. All while your opponent mutters, “That's not my straw man. What just happened?”
It can be annoyingly effective because in response you may be lured7 into clarifying what your position is not instead of talking about what your position is, and studies have shown that when you repeat a lie, even if you are repeating it to refute it, the repetition can reinforce the misinformation in the minds of some people (1).
How Does the Straw Man Argument Work?
Here's an example. Let's say you believe genetically8 engineered crops should be more regulated, and your opponent believes genetically engineered crops should be less regulated. Your opponent could use the straw man technique by saying something like “If we take away farmers' ability to grow genetically engineered crops, if we eliminate that option, people will go hungry, nay9, people will starve. Unlike my opponent, I choose to use the technology available to us and save lives.”
In that statement, your opponent has argued against eliminating genetically engineered crops instead of against simply increasing regulation. He's put up a straw man--no crops at all, people will starve--so he can knock it down.
Another Straw Man Argument Example
Here's another example. Maybe you're arguing with a friend about global warming. You think the government should raise fuel efficiency standards to cut down the amount of C02 we release over the next 20 years. Your friend thinks cars have nothing to do with it, and as you argue, he says something like “Our cities are built so that we have to drive cars. Your solution will kill the economy. How would people get to work without cars? It'll never work.”
At that point you probably start twitching10 and can hardly wait to shout “When did I say we had to get rid of cars? That's not what I said at all!”
You're twitching because your friend has thrown out a straw man argument. He's responding to an extreme version of your proposal that's easier to shoot down than your real proposal. He's arguing against the extreme idea that we need to get rid of all cars because it's easier than arguing against the moderate idea that we need to raise fuel efficiency.
Watch for the Straw Man Argument in Political Debates
Now you know what a straw man is. Watch out for them in the debates and political ads.
 


点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 forth Hzdz2     
adv.向前;向外,往外
参考例句:
  • The wind moved the trees gently back and forth.风吹得树轻轻地来回摇晃。
  • He gave forth a series of works in rapid succession.他很快连续发表了一系列的作品。
2 coupon nogz3     
n.息票,配给票,附单
参考例句:
  • The coupon can be used once only.此优惠券只限使用一次。
  • I have a coupon for ten pence off a packet of soap.我有一张优惠券买一盒肥皂可以便宜十便士。
3 dissect 3tNxQ     
v.分割;解剖
参考例句:
  • In biology class we had to dissect a frog.上生物课时我们得解剖青蛙。
  • Not everyone can dissect and digest the public information they receive.不是每个人都可以解析和消化他们得到的公共信息的。
4 invoke G4sxB     
v.求助于(神、法律);恳求,乞求
参考例句:
  • Let us invoke the blessings of peace.让我们祈求和平之福。
  • I hope I'll never have to invoke this clause and lodge a claim with you.我希望我永远不会使用这个条款向你们索赔。
5 discredit fu3xX     
vt.使不可置信;n.丧失信义;不信,怀疑
参考例句:
  • Their behaviour has bought discredit on English football.他们的行为败坏了英国足球运动的声誉。
  • They no longer try to discredit the technology itself.他们不再试图怀疑这种技术本身。
6 dousing 89a4b1d7bbc52f6e78862dd850399bd2     
v.浇水在…上( douse的现在分词 );熄灯[火]
参考例句:
  • The other spider took a second dousing before it emerged, still alive. 另外一个蜘蛛在冲刷第二遍时才被发现,是个活蜘蛛。 来自互联网
  • At this point, the specimen can be shattered by dousing it with sterilized warm saline. 此时,可以用浸入温暖的消毒盐水的方法粉碎标本。 来自互联网
7 lured 77df5632bf83c9c64fb09403ae21e649     
吸引,引诱(lure的过去式与过去分词形式)
参考例句:
  • The child was lured into a car but managed to escape. 那小孩被诱骗上了车,但又设法逃掉了。
  • Lured by the lust of gold,the pioneers pushed onward. 开拓者在黄金的诱惑下,继续奋力向前。
8 genetically Lgixo     
adv.遗传上
参考例句:
  • All the bees in the colony are genetically related. 同一群体的蜜蜂都有亲缘关系。
  • Genetically modified foods have already arrived on American dinner tables. 经基因改造加工过的食物已端上了美国人的餐桌。 来自英汉非文学 - 生命科学 - 基因与食物
9 nay unjzAQ     
adv.不;n.反对票,投反对票者
参考例句:
  • He was grateful for and proud of his son's remarkable,nay,unique performance.他为儿子出色的,不,应该是独一无二的表演心怀感激和骄傲。
  • Long essays,nay,whole books have been written on this.许多长篇大论的文章,不,应该说是整部整部的书都是关于这件事的。
10 twitching 97f99ba519862a2bc691c280cee4d4cf     
n.颤搐
参考例句:
  • The child in a spasm kept twitching his arms and legs. 那个害痉挛的孩子四肢不断地抽搐。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • My eyelids keep twitching all the time. 我眼皮老是跳。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
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