Misused: Strawman Has A Point

Total posts: [115]
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1 Rebochan28th Mar 2013 04:01:07 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
This trope has gone wayyyy off the rails. I've noticed a good majority of the trope examples popping up on this page are not actually examples of straw arguments that have a point, but simply tropers coming up with what they think are valid counter arguments to storylines they don't like. This usually leads to massive entries where the troper tries to justify the alternate argument. Sometimes there's not even a Strawman listed - it's a troper complaining about a plot point they don't like.

I've been trying to zap these when they pop up, but the sheer magnitude of the page is making this nearly impossible.
http://www.f-d-r.com/blog/ - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
2 Rebochan28th Mar 2013 04:02:21 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
Crap, screwed up the link to the trope. Should be in the Main namespace, not YMMV (though the trope itself is YMMV)
http://www.f-d-r.com/blog/ - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
Fixed it.
4 SeptimusHeap28th Mar 2013 04:12:03 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
This "trope" requires a) a straw argument, an argument that is merely aimed at being knocked down and b) an audience member agreeing with that straw argument.

I am not sure what can be done here except for thorough cleanup.
[up] I think that's what OP is suggesting.

Looking over the trope and its examples, a clean up wouldn't hurt.
6 SeptimusHeap28th Mar 2013 04:17:18 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
They seem to see a bigger issue there. Anyhow, pure cleanup topics have their own forum.
White Hindu
I would arge, at least, that the Harry Potter example with Cho Chang constitutes a straw argument. Cho says, "You know, that was really cruel!" Harry argues against what she just says. Reading it, the book seems to agree wholeheartedly with Harry and against Cho. So does the author, if her comment is any indication. If that's not Strawman Has a Point, maybe I'm misunderstanding what it means.
"What's out there? What's waiting for me?"
8 EditorPallMall28th Mar 2013 04:41:31 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
You know, this is just complaining about the Strawman trope.

When is a presented argument be it straw or otherwise "point-worthy"? Check out the X-men example. Which are the Strawmen "with points" and who is plain old ignorant of the greater picture? We have no less than three views you can shuffle about depending on your social-political viewpoint.

This kindof works as an audience reaction trope but given its nature exactly when it happens is a matter of individual viewpoint. Perhaps the sectionectomy option should be put on the table here.

edited 28th Mar '13 4:41:49 PM by EditorPallMall

Keep it breezy!
9 SeptimusHeap28th Mar 2013 04:45:51 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
A Strawman for our purposes is when a person is there to be proven wrong.
10 EditorPallMall28th Mar 2013 04:53:16 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
[up]Not arguing that. Strawman is definitely a trope in my book. Strawman has a Point - not so much; it is an audience reaction.
Keep it breezy!
11 Ghilz28th Mar 2013 04:55:12 PM from The Moon, Or Canada , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Fight it Out!
[up] Thats why it's marked YMMV AND on the Audience Reaction index. So what is your point?

edited 28th Mar '13 4:55:43 PM by Ghilz

12 nrjxll28th Mar 2013 04:59:43 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
The War on Straw pages in general are just an utterly FUBAR mess. The definition Septimus Heap gave is probably the only one for "strawman" that we could actually use, but it still has a degree of subjectivity/reading the author's intent to do deal with, and not all the pages actually use it anyway.
13 EditorPallMall28th Mar 2013 05:28:00 PM from United States, East Coast
Don't Fear the Spiders
[up][up]The problem is almost any Strawman can be considered Strawman has a Point.

Example 1: A writer could bring up a moral about abortion from a pro-life or a pro-choice standpoint. The Strawman method is to reinforce the position of his preferred side ("A woman's body is her privacy." vs "A fetus is still a human being.") without considering the other. If you stand on the other side of the fence you will reasonably point out how your sides argument is overlooked in the resolution, thus the Strawman has a Point.

Example 2: Same as the above for gun control. Reinforce that effective gun control is a means to end gun crime or reinforce that gun control infringes on the rights of the people.

Example 3: Belief. Reinforce Occam's Razor or reinforce the benefits of faith.

So on and so forth.
Keep it breezy!
14 Rebochan28th Mar 2013 06:31:31 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
A Strawman is a simplistic argument intended to be false on its face and completely mischaracterizes an actual position in a debate in order to make the other argument morally superior. A lot of the examples simply suggest that a troper came up with a counter argument in a storyline that they feel is valid, but many, many of these examples aren't even strawmen.

In the Harry Potter examples I took off, two people were merely arguing. The whole point of the argument between Harry and Cho wasn't whether Harry and Cho were even right, but intended to show that they had very different moral values and they were beginning to realize that. Also, Harry was being cruel to her - he was being rude to a lot of people in the story. I never got the impression the story was 100% "Harry is right and stupid Cho and her stupid argument is false". The entire situation was far more complex than that.

And whether or not the SNEAK spell was a valid tactic to prevent snitching isn't a straw argument or not and shouldn't have been listed on the page at all. Just because Harry remarks that he thought it was a good idea does not mean the reader is supposed to agree with his or Hermione's logic without criticism.

I think the trope itself needs some kind of tightening because it's gotten so wildly out of hand.

edited 28th Mar '13 6:32:43 PM by Rebochan

http://www.f-d-r.com/blog/ - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
White Hindu
I did get the impression reading that we're supposed to see Harry as completely in the right during that argument. The thought that it could be otherwise never occurred to me. Since it's impossible to objectively tell which is which, I think at least the base of the example should stay.
"What's out there? What's waiting for me?"
I think the ultimate problem with the page is that people are bringing up stories that address moral dilemmas without actually using a strawman. Iron Man 2 for instance addresses both sides of the problem while having Tony come out on top, no one (besides Justin Hammer) does anything to undermine the points they are trying to make. That is the foundation of the strawman, that the person with the opinion and arguments ends up Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. They have to do something that makes their opinions strawman. Then if there is something of value to their opinion it becomes Strawman Has a Point.
17 Rebochan28th Mar 2013 07:17:41 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
So, similar to how Cho never jumps off the slippery slope, she just argues with Harry about something.

Or how Argus Filch being a cranky old caretaker has nothing to do with whether or not Harry is morally right to track mud on the floors of the school (why yes, that was one of the Harry Potter entries I nuked.)
http://www.f-d-r.com/blog/ - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
The main reason the Harry/Cho argument might have seemed uncertain is that the series is often about changing perceptions where Harry himself is often wrong, and can even be wrong over the course of several books. Since the series still had two books to go after this argument, it was open to debate whether we were supposed to be siding with Harry or Cho or see that they both had a point.

In Book 6, Marietta makes one brief appearance at the start of the next school year. Harry sees she still has the jinx on her face, smirks at the sight of it, and walks away. Clearly, he's had no change of heart about her or his argument with Cho. He still resents what she did and he's glad and amused to see that the jinx is still on her several months later.

In Book 7, Marietta makes no appearance and no mention is made of her current condition. The only time she's mentioned at all is when Hermione, the very person who scarred her, refers to her in passing as, "that stupid Marietta". Cho makes one final appearance where she's all smiles and good cheer towards Harry, with, as noted, no mention of her friend's current condition.

Shortly after the release of Book 7, Rowling gave a fan interview where the fans could submit their own questions to her. What happened with Marietta's jinx was one of the first questions asked. Rowling answered that most of it faded with time, but it still left a few scars. Rowling then added, "I do so loathe a traitor!"

With that comment, Rowling's intentions became 100% clear. To her mind, Marietta was nothing but a loathesome traitor who richly deserved what she got and Cho was being foolish for sticking up for her. We were all supposed to fully agree with Harry's arguments and dismiss Cho's arguments out of hand, hence a straw argument. We were supposed to be just as amused as Harry was to see the jinx was still on her face the next year. We weren't supposed to care or feel sorry for Marietta being permanently scarred for this one bad thing she did. Rowling didn't think Cho would resent her friend still having scars from the incident two years later.

Even before the interview made Rowling's intentions clear, there were hints in the book that this was a straw argument. Harry got the last word on both the points that were discussed on this page. Right after Harry defends Hermione's jinx as brilliant, Cho sarcastically refers to her as, "darling Hermione", expressing the jealousy for her and Harry she'd expressed earlier, something Cho's demonstrably wrong about since Harry had never shown any concious romantic feelings for her (and by the end of the series, he never does). Having her be wrong on this, implies she's wrong about everything.

It's debatable how much of a strawman Cho's supposed to be in general. But for this argument, her statements were clearly meant to be straw statements we weren't supposed to agree with. The fact that many of us did think Cho had a point, even the fact Rebochan didn't realize this was a straw argument, is an indication at how much Rowling failed in making this a straw argument.
19 Rebochan28th Mar 2013 09:40:19 PM from Soaking up Rays
I've got Sunshine!
What failed "straw argument?" Cho still didn't present a strawman and the moral justification of it is irrelevant to the scene Cho and Harry's blows come to.

Being friends with Harry later is also irrelevant - Cho never admits she's wrong about Marietta OR Harry, thus missing another key component of the "strawman".

The point is, this trope example is exactly the problem with the page - you're simply presenting a criticism of the characters in the story. Whether that criticism is valid or not doesn't mean there's a man of straw that has been constructed and knocked down for the sake of making a weak argument valid.

The entire page is full of these.

edited 28th Mar '13 9:40:29 PM by Rebochan

http://www.f-d-r.com/blog/ - Filthy Digital Ramblings, musings on media.
I'll admit I'm not familiar with the fine details of Harry Potter but all I saw in that long post was evidence that J.K. Rowling might have done a little Author Tract there. I saw nothing that Cho was being unreasonable about her opinion other than the fact that Harry might have been proven right in the end. Now if Cho went to great lengths to discredit Harry and his opinions just to show how "crazy" her logic was to the audience, then that would be strawman.
21 AnotherDuck29th Mar 2013 02:57:30 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
I'm not really familiar with the books either, but this isn't about any argument that can be proven wrong. If Cho is supposed to have any point with her argument, it's not a straw argument.
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22 nrjxll29th Mar 2013 02:59:26 AM , Relationship Status: Not war
Honestly, the more I look at this page, the more it seems like a bad idea. Even the correct definition is open ended to the point of meaninglessness.
Even if the author agrees with one person, or one person is objectively right, that doesn't make the other a strawman.

It's a strawman if the arguments are deliberately flawed, in contrast with the position's actual arguments.
24 AnotherDuck29th Mar 2013 05:58:45 AM from Stockholm , Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
For the record, I removed the Top Gun example. Iceman was even proven to be right in the film.
Check out my fanfiction!
Cho tries to make two arguments: that Marietta isn't all bad, and Hermione shouldn't have made the jinx. Harry shoots her down both times. Both times, he gets the last word, and the discussion is never again seriously brought up in the series. Rowling's interview confirms that the author fully sided with Harry and against Cho on this argument. Cho's arguments were meant to be the weaker arguments, Harry's retorts were meant to effectively refute Cho's arguments. This was a strawman argument.

Strawman Has A Point is not about how wrong an author is for presenting a simplistic argument intended to be false on its face and completely mischaracterizes an actual position in a debate in order to make the other argument morally superior. It's about how even when an author tries to do this, they still manage to fail at it, that even as the author is setting fire to the strawman argument, the strawman still manages to say, within the context of the story, something that causes at least part of the audience to say, "Hey, wait a minute! That's actually a good, valid point!"

The Cho entries are not just some generic "criticism of the characters". They address the specific topic of this page, how Cho's points actually were stronger and more valid than Harry/Rowling seemed to realize.

Total posts: 115
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