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An interesting and insightful read which examines a fallacious technique of propaganda known as the straw man. Psychologically, the straw man concept breaks things down to a simplistic level in which context is lost and decisions are relegated to “yes/no” choices, or extremes, which are more difficult to defend. This technique can be refuted by clarifying one’s original position.

The Propaganda Professor

straw man

Once upon a time when I was a teenager and didn’t know any better, I got into a discussion (i.e. argument) with a relative on a topic that he had strong beliefs about. That topic was the hazards posed by certain chemicals used in growing and processing food — a hazard which, he was convinced, was nonexistent, but was merely a fraud concocted by devious scientists, or the government, or some other “them” who couldn’t be trusted. At one point, he said to me, ” if it wasn’t for chemicals, you couldn’t live.” Although I wasn’t even familiar with the term at the time, this was my first real awareness of the straw man tactic, which is the sixth in our series of propaganda techniques.

A straw man is an oversimplified substitute for an actual issue or another person’s actual position on an issue.  Although the term’s origins are unclear…

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