My husband and I are discussing renting our garage to someone to make some extra money every month.
Me: We should restrict the renter to storing a car or a boat. I don’t want someone to put a bunch of boxes that might have drugs or guns in them in our garage.
Husband: That’s not going to happen. You’re making the terms of the rental too restrictive. Find me one news article online about a person renting their garage out to someone who stores something illegal in it. That doesn’t happen.
**Me: **It’s a legitimate concern. I’m not going to find a news article to prove that to you.
Husband: You might as well be saying, “Aliens are going to land in our garage.”
It’s at this point the conversation falls apart, because I get pissed off that I’m not being taken seriously.
Later, he scales back from comparing my concern to aliens landing in our garage, to it being as likely as a plane crash. Then he says we should just go ahead and deadbolt the front door and never leave the house if I think the world is such a dangerous place.
[FWIW, my response is that a) aliens are not real; drugs and guns are real; b) you cannot prevent a plane crash from happening, but you can prevent someone from storing illegal items on your property by restricting the rental contract; c) I’m glad you brought up deadbolting the front door: it’s a preventative measure we take against intruders even though we don’t think intruders are likely to come into our house. Similar to the preventative measure I have suggested re: renting the garage.]
This is a common conversation pattern I’ve noticed. Anytime our disagreements disintegrate into me yelling or crying, it’s as a result of his using this rhetorical device: equating my position with something absurd.
Tonight he referred to it as a logical device called “reductio ad absurdum”. But I looked up the definition and that doesn’t seem to be what it is.
That’s not quite right as a descriptor, because he’s not talking about the result of my preventative measure of restricting the rental contract to a car or a boat. He’s saying my preventative measure is absurd and completely unnecessary.
I think the device is more like a straw man argument, but I’m not sure it exactly fits that definition either.
The reason I need to know what it’s called is so that I can look up how to respond logically to it, rather than getting upset it’s being used at all, and ending the conversation in frustrated tears.