Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Merciless Straw Man

Don't you mean The Wicker Man? No, I have no compulsion to view that film let alone write about it. Though, alas, I have done so just there. No, the straw man is an often used rhetorical device which distracts away from an argument. An example could be:

Person 1: I think abortion is acceptable
Person 2: Think of all the dying children in Africa and how they don't deserve to die.

Okay, perhaps the least subtle example imaginable, but that is a straw man argument. I was reading a Times Article on Gordon Ramsay's misogynist outburst, and there was a rather ludicrous example of a straw man argument. The basic line of the article was that Ramsay was wrong for saying someone was a porcine lesbian but it was also symptomatic of a common misogynistic trend in all males. However, Patrick from Blackpool helpfully added:

When I left school in 1982 boys were hugely outperforming girls and it was deemed a problem. We then had 25 years of trying to raise their results - but tampering with the system. It was recognised that girls were conscientious with coursework. So coursework now takes priority. Any help for the boys

Thank you, Patrick from Blackpool. You want the TES, I'm afraid, and a question mark. If you were an example of the boys that 'were hugely outperforming girls', well, those girls had problems. I think I now understand why misogyny is still rife.

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