Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bob and The Straw Man

So there I was on Friday, sitting down for lunch at my desk. It was noon, so I turned on the Bob Dutko "News Hour." As I was taking a bite of my sandwich, Bob announced that he was upset about "liberals" using the straw man fallacy. I nearly choked on my sandwich, since, as a long time listener, I know that the straw man fallacy is one of Dutko's very favorite rhetorical techniques. I quickly turned up the radio, so I can learn about the straw man from the Master.

But before I get into what Bob said, let's review a little about the straw man fallacy. The Wikipedia presents several techniques for setting up a straw man argument. One technique is to "[p]resent a misrepresentation of the opponent's position, refute it, and pretend that the opponent's actual position has been refuted." Another is to "[i]nvent a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, and pretend that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical."

This prior technique is essentially what Bob explained to his audience. Bob then complained that a USA Today editorial (which I have been unable to find) mischaracterized the conservative position on immigration. According to Bob, the editorial stated that conservatives were against immigration. Bob says that conservatives, such as him, are only against illegal immigration. Okay.

But then Bob went on one of his patented rants and, in the process, invoked the latter straw man technique described above. Bob claimed that the straw man fallacy was used "by many of the political left"; by "the liberals"; by "the pro-evolutionists"; and by the "pro-abortionites". Of course, Bob named no names and gave no concrete examples. Bob said it, so it must be true.

But Bob is no stranger to the prior technique of misrepresenting an opponents position. In fact, he did it at least twice on the prior Friday (5/18). First, Bob misrepresented scientist's study of abiogenesis, or the origin of life. Bob claimed, and I paraphrase, "that that the evolutionist's position is take a rock, stare at it for a few million years, and it turns into a human being." Of course, this isn't the position of any serious scientist and Bob knows it. Second, Bob misrepresenting the position of climatologists, claiming that they're predicting "the end of the world." While climatologists are definitely alarmed by the consequences of global warming, I have yet to hear anyone say it will cause the end of humanity or of life on Earth.

So, Bob, please do us all a favor. Try practicing what you preach once in a while.

2 comments:

djtyg said...

Wish I was listening on Friday. I would've liked to have called him on Free For All and asked him to explain that.

Irl Hudnutt said...

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

If it wasn't for the straw man, Bobbo wouldn't have a show. His entire show is one big straw man argument!

There really isn't an end to this man's stupidity, is there?