Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Skeptripe #3: "Straw Man"

Welcome back to "Skeptripe," where I expose words and phrases used by so-called "Skeptics" and Athiests that are overused, misused, or just plain stupid.

"Skeptics" like to accuse their opponents of using "Straw Man Arguments." They say that we're arguing against an easy target, but it really isn't our fault that they're such terrible debaters.

Seriously, though, what the "Skeptics" find so hard to understand is that we aren't arguing against a "Straw Man," we're simplifying their arguments. "Skeptics" like to pretend that they're smarter than everyone else, so they write long, rambling arguments where they over-explain everything in complicated language. By using these unfamiliar terms and long paragraphs, they hope to confuse their opponents. That way, when they're backed into a corner, they can always say "you're using a "Straw Man," this is what I was really saying!" It's a cheap stunt, but it might fool naive opponents who are arguing with "Skeptics" for the first time.

"Skeptics" like to pad out their arguments in a couple of major ways:
  1. Defining things: "Skeptics" like to give definitions for random words and terms in their arguments. This takes up lots of space, and is clearly an attempt to talk down to their opponents. As if we don't know what the words mean! But more than that, "Skeptics" like to redefine words to mean things that help them make their arguments, rather than using the definitions that God gave those words at the Tower of Babel. You can just ignore these passages, though you might want to tell the "Skeptics" that you aren't falling for their stupid re-definitions.
  2. Examples: "Skeptics" love to make up stories to help support their points--that should be obvious, why else would most of them believe in evolution? They spin out long "hypothetical" fables about fictional people or fantasy animals, or they explain long examples that supposedly support their points. More often than not, these stories are totally fictional. How can a fictional story help their point? The answer: it can't. These are just distractions, and you can skip right over them.
  3. Quotes and Links: If there's anything "Skeptics" love more than telling stories, it's talking about their "sources." They'll throw out link after link, long quotation after long quotation, all in an effort to pad out their argument and make them look smarter. The truth is, anyone can find anything to support them online; if I don't believe one "Skeptic's" story, why would I believe the story of some other "Skeptic" on some other site? If you were to click and read every link and quote in a "Skeptic's" post, you'd be gone for hours, reading more and more bloated arguments that go nowhere. Just ignore any links or quoted bits of text, and whatever you do, never listen to the "Skeptics" who try to get you to give links and quotes like them. Once again, they're just trying to distract you, so they don't risk being convinced by your arguments.
The best thing to remember when dealing with these "Skeptics" is to have faith in yourself. Your first impression of their arguments is usually the right one, and just ignore them when they try to tell you that you're "misrepresenting" or "misinterpreting" what they said. When you stick to your guns and never waver, they'll just get more and more angry that you aren't falling for their tricks. Eventually they'll snap, and you can just sit back and declare victory.

"Skeptics" like to think they're smart, but just like another "Straw Man," they're all in need of a brain.

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