The straw man fallacy occurs in the following pattern of argument:
- Person 1 has position X.
- Person 2 disregards certain key points of X and instead presents the superficially similar position Y. The position Y is a distorted version of X and can be set up in several ways, including:
- Presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent's position.
- Quoting an opponent's words out of context — i.e. choosing quotations that misrepresent the opponent's actual intentions (see fallacy of quoting out of context).
- Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, then refuting that person's arguments — thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position (and thus the position itself) has been defeated.
- Inventing a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs which are then criticized, implying that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.
- Oversimplifying an opponent's argument, then attacking this oversimplified version.
- Person 2 attacks position Y, concluding that X is false/incorrect/flawed.
This reasoning is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position does not address the actual position.
Read more about this topic: Straw Man
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