ESGS Logical Fallacies

Straw Man


The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores a person's actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This sort of "reasoning" has the following pattern:


This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because attacking a distorted version of a position simply does not constitute an attack on the position itself. One might as well expect an attack on a poor drawing of a person to hurt the person.


Prof. Jones: "The university just cut our yearly budget by $10,000."
Prof. Smith: "What are we going to do?"
Prof. Brown: "I think we should eliminate one of the teaching assistant positions. That would take care of it."
Prof. Jones: "We could reduce our scheduled raises instead."
Prof. Brown: " I can't understand why you want to bleed us dry like that, Jones."

"Senator Jones says that we should not fund the attack submarine program. I disagree entirely. I can't understand why he wants to leave us defenseless like that."

Bill and Jill are arguing about cleaning out their closets:
Jill: "We should clean out the closets. They are getting a bit messy."
Bill: "Why, we just went through those closets last year. Do we have to clean them out everyday?"
Jill: "I never said anything about cleaning them out every day. You just want too keep all your junk forever, which is just ridiculous."

People who opposed the Charlottown Accord probably just wanted Quebec to separate. But we want Quebec to stay in Canada.

We should have conscription. People don't want to enter the military because they find it an inconvenience. But they should realize that there are more important things than convenience.




Show that the opposition's argument has been misrepresented by showing that the opposition has a stronger argument. Describe the stronger argument.

© ESGS, 2002.