Hollow man arguments

This is a weak case (similar to the Straw man arguments) attributed to a non-existent group: Someone will fabricate a viewpoint that is easy to contradict, then claim it was made by a group they disagree with. Arguing against an opponent which doesn’t exist is a pretty easy way to win any debate.

People who use hollow man arguments will often use vague, non-specific language without explicitly giving any sources or stating who their opponent is.

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Communication

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A straw man argument is a misrepresentation of an opinion or viewpoint, designed to be as easy as possible to contradict.

The only purpose is for it to be easy to expose. It’s not an argument you happen to find inconvenient or challenging. It’s one that is logically flawed.

It is designed to be resistant to attacks by a defier.There arguments are difficult to avoid because they have a lot of overlap with legitimate debate techniques.

A person using an iron man argument will most likely make their own viewpoint so vague that nothing anyone says about it can weaken it. They’ll use jargon and imprecise terms. This means they can claim anyone who disagrees didn’t understand them, or they’ll rephrase their argument multiple times.

Bad arguments are harmful
  • They are harmful to everyone involved in a debate: they don’t get us anywhere because we’re not tackling an opponent’s actual viewpoint. This means we have no hope of convincing them.
  • It’s not easy to admit we’re wrong about anything or to have to change our minds. But this is crucial if we want to get smarter and see the world as it is, not as we want it to be.
  • We have to accept it’s something we’re all vulnerable to: it’s easy to look at other people we know that use logical fallacies. It’s much harder to recognize them in ourselves.
  • Bad arguments are almost unavoidable if we haven’t taken the time to research both sides of the debate. We have to research the opposite side and understand that our perception of an opinion is not that opinion.
  • Re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”
  • List any points of agreement.
  • Mention anything you have learned from your target.
  • Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

The first thing you can do you is to point it out. Explain why that isn’t helpful.

If this is not working, repeat your original point and make no attempt to defend the bad argument. The debate should probably not continue when your opponent proves unwilling to recognize their use of a bad argument.

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RELATED IDEAS

  • People think emotionally, so forget facts. 
  • When people are asked to explain their beliefs about how a given thing works, they’ll actually become less confident in those beliefs.
  • When people have their self-worth validated in some way, they tend to be more receptive to information that challenges their beliefs.
  • During a debate, you’re more likely to make progress if you can appeal to the moral concerns of the people that you’re talking with.

1

IDEA

Hope allows you to come up with creative solutions to the disputes at the core of the conflict. 

You may see a way out of what seems to be a locked battle of wills. This is what happens in ordinary problem-solving, when thinking outside of the box can help all sides come up with a solution. 

Name-calling, attacking a person’s character and using someone’s beliefs or traits to call their argument into question.

For example, you can’t say that someone’s argument about dogs being better than cats is weak because they are also a Republican. It offers no real support to your argument for cats being better and it makes it look like you can’t think of anything better than poking at their personal beliefs.

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