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DON’T BE A STRAW MAN

 

“The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”  

                                                         F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

 


 

If you find yourself in an argument or debate do you become focused on “winning” rather than actually discovering the truth?

 

This is a very common problem. We often cling to our beliefs and are willing to defend them at all costs. Even when presented with facts that go against their view, people will cling to their beliefs more tightly.

 

Stubbornness is ego-driven. It doesn’t feelgood to admit we are wrong or mistaken, we’d rather find ways to convince ourselves that we are right, and prove that we are smarter and better than the other person.

 

Winning an argument can feel good for a while, but isn’t it more important to be honest with your self?

 

Some times people try to “win” an argument by misrepresenting the other person’s viewpoint to make it seem weaker. The one who misrepresents is known as a ‘straw man.’ They refute a point that seems similar to their belief, but is actually an exaggeration of what the other person is saying.

 

We concoct ‘straw man’ arguments to knock the other guy down, and then we act like we defeated their viewpoint. Such arguments are a fallacy and damage our ability to get to the truth––assuming that’s what we were looking for in the first place.   

 

Have you ever had a ‘straw man’ argument where you dismissed someone else’s belief even though you read or saw a factual report that justified their position? Did you regret it?

 

If so, stick to the truth and express opinions about things you truly believe in. Next week I’ll explain how to have an ‘Iron Man’ argument.

 

 

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