Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

27 March, 2006

Critical Thinking For the Masses?

I was shocked to see this article. It's called "Bush Using Straw-Man Arguments in Speeches" and points to Bush's use of the logical fallacy, the Straw-Man Argument.

"There are some really decent people," the president said earlier this year, "who believe that the federal government ought to be the decider of health care ... for all people."

Of course, hardly anyone in mainstream political debate has made such assertions.

When the president starts a sentence with "some say" or offers up what "some in Washington" believe, as he is doing more often these days, a rhetorical retort almost assuredly follows.

The device usually is code for Democrats or other White House opponents. In describing what they advocate, Bush often omits an important nuance or substitutes an extreme stance that bears little resemblance to their actual position.

He typically then says he "strongly disagrees" — conveniently knocking down a straw man of his own making.

In other words, Bush builds up some bullshit proposition that heargues against all the while avoiding the real issue. But this and other fallacies are not exclusive to Bush. Rather it's common currency amongst politicians generally. Still, it's nice to see something so uncommon yet so important as critical thinking in our media.
|| Palmer, 6:30 PM


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