Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man

Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man

Logical fallacies are techniques that people use to make an argument appear convincing even when it is wrong. Learning how to identify and refute logical fallacies is one of the best ways to win in a discussion. Catching an opponent committing a fallacy will force him to retract his error or he will appear foolish or manipulative to his audience. There is a dark side to this. Once you learn to identify logical fallacies you will also be able to use it. Do not deliberately use them against fellow Pirates; it is extreme bad manners and you will most probably be caught out.

The Logical Fallacy of the Straw Man

One form of the straw man argument is to take an opponent’s argument, that the audience does not fully understand, and misrepresent it. Then the argument can then be conceived as refuted by attacking the fictional elements. Another form is to pick out someone who had made a weak attempt to make an argument and to refute them claiming thereby to have destroyed the original argument.


Copyright: The standard Pirate position on copyright is to call for reform of copyright laws. Our opponents often claim we want to abolish copyright altogether and that would lead to content creators not being rewarded for their work.

UBI: Many Pirate Parties want to see Universal Basic Income introduced. In a recent reply to a Facebook link to Rick Falkvinge’s blog post on UBI a Pirate commented “Giving out free money unconditionally is very flawed” which raises the question – did he read the article? After conceding that it may be better than current welfare systems, he went on to claim that is was unworkable because steps, such as abolishing minimum wage laws and abolishing all other forms of welfare would need to be implemented before the introduction of UBI. Anyone who has researched the subject knows that this is simply wrong. However, those who are not familiar with the subject could well be persuaded by such logical fallacy.

You can read more about the strawman logical fallacy in a wikipedia post and logical fallacies in general in this wikipedia article.
Remember that just because someone commits a logical fallacy it does not mean their argument is necessarily incorrect. If you have the time and resources then use the principles of scepticism to test their reasoning objectively.


This article is a part of a series called Effective Pirating:

Winning Discussions: The Fallacy Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 09/01/15
Winning Discussions: The Gambler’s Fallacy (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: argumentum ad ignorantiam (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: Ad Hominem (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: Appeal to Fear (Effective Pirating) 21/10/14
Winning Discussions: Begging the Question (Effective Pirating) 17/8/14
Winning Discussions – The Bandwagon Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 11/8/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – Tu Quoque 24/7/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man 17/7/14
Effective Pirating: Choose your Opponents Carefully 7/7/14

Featured image: CC BY-SA Rick Warden