The straw man, reduced

It is hard to say whether it is an example of building a straw man to gain research dollars, parlaying controversy for notoriety, or what. Nature? Nurture? Scientists say neither is about a report that claims to solve the debate about whether nature or nurture is responsible for people’s behavior.

“People have tried for centuries to shift the debate one way or the other, and it’s just been a pendulum swinging back and forth. We’re taking the radical position that the smarter thing is to just say ‘neither’ — to throw out the debate as it has been historically framed and embrace the alternative perspective provided by developmental systems theory.”

The straw man in this case is the proposition that responsible scientists have claimed it is an either-or situation. The big discovery in this research is that life isn’t so simple. The biggest deception is the pretense that someone with integrity thinks it is. The rationale for the straw man also smells.

“Language is so complex that people can’t imagine how kids could do it so well without it somehow being innate,” Samuelson said. “But if we steer clear of the nature-nurture debate and consider it from a developmental systems perspective, we can see how pieces of knowledge — which may not even seem related to language — build over time. It gets us closer to understanding the full complexity of language learning.”

This is reducing the nature versus nurture debate to the absurd and then using that to build a need for something else.

A good example of bad science: debating the arguments and not the issue.

Comments are closed.