I often wonder why it is said that religion and politics are taboo topics and should not be discussed in the workplace (or anywhere "professional" or "polite"). One of the things I've noticed is the problem of the straw man argument. This is a logical fallacy where an argument is replaced by one which is more ridiculous so as to make it seem false. I have included here many such examples. This makes logical discussion impossible because the rebuttal given does not even address the argument proposed by the first person.
|I say...||Radical conservative thinks I'm saying...|
|Let's talk about gun control||Take away everyone's gun and don't let anyone own one.|
|Let's have a secular government||Kill Jesus and persecute all Christians.|
|Let gay people get married||All straight marriages are null and void. Force everyone to marry someone of the same sex. Teach all children that gay sex is the only way to go.|
|Let women decide what to do with their bodies||Murder all children under the age of 2|
|Obama actually accomplished quite a bit during his first term.||Worship Obama and make virgin sacrifices in his name. He is God Almighty.|
|Climate change is real||Every time you start your car, the whole world's temperature rises 50 degrees|
|Evolution is real||People mutate from monkeys during their lifetime.|
|I say...||Radical liberal thinks I'm saying...|
|Why is it the government's job to provide welfare?||Let the poor starve. Who cares if they have enough to eat?|
|Having low-wage jobs can be good for the economy.||Everyone should work for less than a dollar per hour.|
|People need to learn to accept responsibility for their own actions.||If you weren't born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you don't deserve a nice life.|
|Life is valuable and should be respected.||All contraceptive measures are evil and should be universally banned.|
|I don't think that bigger government is the answer to all of our problems.||Declare total anarchy and overthrow the government.|
I think that we'll have a much more respectable atmosphere in discussion these matters when we can at least agree on what is being discussed. This is why when I make an argument, I try to be as articulate as possible, saying precisely what I mean, and I assume that the other person is doing the same. I find that when people "read between the lines" and make assumptions about the other person's argument and attitude, there are higher rates of miscommunication and thus more contentious interaction.