The straw man fallacy

I had this idea, when I first started engaging with the skeptic community, to put together a bunch of web-comics around logical fallacies – especially those frequently used by anti-science proselytisers. Like many things I have started, this lost momentum fairly quickly – I was quite depressed during this period of my life, doing anything outside of occasionally feeding myself seemed like an insurmountable burden. However, it is still a good idea I will run with as the mood strikes me.

The Straw man

This comic is a rather tongue-in-cheek illustration of the straw man fallacy – which is an argument strategy wherein one appears to refute an opponents argument, when they’re actually refuting an argument that was not presented by the opponent. I have not formally studied logic since I was an undergraduate, although this illustration does date from this period. If memory serves, I found this sort of argument strategy was often used by creationists to refute evolution. A really simple example is a claim you’ve likely heard – that since monkeys still exist today, the claim that humans evolved from monkeys is demonstrably untrue. Of course this argument is fallacious – no evolutionary scientist claimed that we descended from monkeys, the claim was actually that humans, monkeys, and apes, all descended from a common ancestor millions (please correct my dates here, this isn’t my field) of years ago.

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