Straw man

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A straw man is a logical fallacy in which one side of an issue or debate deliberately misrepresents the position of the other. This misrepresentation is then undermined as if it were the other side's actual position. Someone not paying close attention might then think that the original argument has been successfully countered when in reality nothing of the sort has happened. The name straw man suggests setting up a scarecrow that looks like an opponent's argument, but is easy to knock down and, figuratively speaking, will not put up a fight.


  • "Atheists say that the Bible isn't true. But archeologists have found many of the cities mentioned in the Bible, so clearly the atheists are wrong."
    No reasonably informed atheist believes that nothing in the Bible is true. Also, even if a book contains some historically true elements, that does not prove that every single thing in the book is also true. For example, many works of historical fiction contain viable facts.
  • "Abortion advocates want to kill babies. This is monstrous and must be stopped."
    The debate over abortion is largely centered on the distinction between a "baby" and a "fetus," and claiming that advocates "want to kill babies" is a leap to attribute a position to the opposition that they do not believe. In addition, the vast majority of pro-choice advocates would like for there to be fewer abortions, but recognize that sometimes they are preferable to the alternative of unwanted children.
  • "Evolution is wrong. No one has ever seen a dog give birth to a cat."
    Evolution does not say that one species suddenly gives birth to a completely different species.

v · d Logical fallacies
v · d Formal fallacies
Propositional logic   Affirming a disjunct · Affirming the consequent · Argument from fallacy · False dilemma · Denying the antecedent
Quantificational logic   Existential fallacy · Illicit conversion · Proof by example · Quantifier shift
Syllogistic   Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise · Exclusive premises · Necessity · Four-term Fallacy · Illicit major · Illicit minor · Undistributed middle
v · d Faulty generalisations
General   Begging the question · Gambler's fallacy · Slippery slope · Equivocation · argumentum verbosium
Distribution fallacies   Fallacy of composition · Fallacy of division
Data mining   Cherry picking · Accident fallacy · Spotlight fallacy · Hasty generalization · Special pleading
Causation fallacies   Post hoc ergo propter hoc · Retrospective determinism · Suppressed correlative · Wrong direction
Ontological fallacies   Fallacy of reification · Pathetic fallacy · Loki's Wager
v · d False relevance
Appeals   Appeal to authority · Appeal to consequences · Appeal to emotion · Appeal to motive · Appeal to novelty · Appeal to tradition · Appeal to pity · Appeal to popularity · Appeal to poverty · Appeal to spite · Appeal to wealth · Sentimental fallacy · Argumentum ad baculum
Ad hominem   Ad hominem abusive · Reductio ad Hitlerum · Judgmental language · Straw man · Tu quoque
Genetic Fallacies   Genetic fallacy · Chronological snobbery · Association fallacy · Appeal to tradition · Texas sharpshooter fallacy
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