Re: Large Ballot Redux

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 12:58:16 CDT

Arthur,

> I beg to differ. See: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Straw_man
>
> Decision making
>
> A "straw-man proposal" is a simple draft proposal intended to
> generate discussion of its disadvantages and to provoke the
> generation of new, better, proposals. As the document is revised, it
> may be given other edition names such as "iron-man", etc.
>
The page you cite has some excellent discriptions of "straw man." The part
you cite is much narrower having to do with a "straw-man proposal."

>From the same page,

> One can set up a straw man in several different ways:
>
> 1. Present one of your opponent's weaker arguments,
> refute it, and pretend that you have refuted all of
> their arguments.
> 2. Present your opponent's argument in weakened form,
> refute it, and pretend that you have refuted the original.
> 3. Present a misrepresentation of your opponent's
> position, refute it, and pretend that you have refuted
> your opponent's actual position.
> 4. Present someone who defends a position poorly as the
> defender, refute their arguments, and pretend that
> you've refuted every argument for that position.
> 5. Invent a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that
> are criticised, and pretend that that person represents
> a group that the speaker is critical of.
>
This pretty well describes what I think when I use or hear the term "straw
man." The straw man techniques are *very* common--often used by highly
educated people that should know better. Just about every argument against
the voter-verified paper trail fits one of these descriptions of "straw
man." When Denise Lamb or Ted Selker wave around the 57 in. tape printout
to prove how unworkable the voter verified paper trail would be, they are
using straw man #3 above. Shamos likes to use #2.

--Alan D.
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:02 2004

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