The steel man

While listening to Sam Harris’ Waking Up this morning, the debate technique of a “steel man” came up, which was new to me.

While the term of a “straw man” has now entered common vernacular, especially in the computing industry, its opposite idea is much less common. The straw man refers to building a position that mischaracterizes an opponent’s view or is otherwise easy to defeat, a steel man builds an argument that’s better constructed than an opponent can articulate themselves. Tearing it down is proportionally more difficult, and doing so further solidifies your own position.

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