WOX: War on X (Mass) II: Hyperbole & Straw Man




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This essay continues my guide on how to start a War on X. In the previous essay, I looked at the advantages and disadvantages of lying and this essay will focus on using hyperbole and the Straw Man fallacy. Hyperbole is a rhetorical device involving exaggeration, typically to make something appear far worse or much better than it really is. While hyperbole is a form of lying, it is an exaggeration rather than a complete fabrication. For example, if a person does not catch any fish and say they “caught a whopper”, then they are just lying. If they caught a small fish and called it a whopper, they are using hyperbole.  While there can be debate about the boundary between hyperbole and other forms of lying, this distinction is not as important as the distinction between the truth and a lie.  Hyperbole can be used for benign purposes, such as in comedy. But it can also be weaponized to help start a war. Hyperbole is often used in creating a straw man fallacy.
The Straw Man fallacy is committed when one ignores a claim or argument and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of that claim or argument. This sort of “reasoning” has the following pattern:
Premise 1: Person A makes claim or argument X.
Premise 2: Person B presents Y (which is a distorted version of X).
Premise 3: Person B attacks Y.
Conclusion:  Therefore, X is false/incorrect/flawed.

This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a claim or argument does not constitute a criticism of the position itself. A Straw Man can be effective because people often do not know the real claim or argument being attacked. The fallacy is especially effective when the straw person matches the audience’s biases or stereotypes—they will feel that the distorted version is the real version and accept it.
While this fallacy is generally aimed at an audience, it can be self-inflicted: a person can unwittingly make a Straw Man out of a claim or argument. This can be. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: A Philosopher’s Blog