Logical Fallacies – Straw Man

I have noticed many people on the Internet use logical fallacies in place of sound arguments.

Logical fallacies are arguments that sound good at first, but when thought through, do not really make sense. Some logical fallacies are not really arguments at all, but instead attack the person giving the information, instead of attacking the information itself (e.g. “ad hominem” arguments).

I have decided to start writing small explanations about various logical fallacies. This will help me – and others – to watch out and not make the mistake of using logical fallacies when we write or talk to others.


What exactly is a straw man argument?

Let’s first get a definition of a straw man argument.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “straw man” argument as: a weak or imaginary opposition (such as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted

This logical fallacy is when someone incorrectly states their opponent’s position. This is when someone “puts words in your mouth”. Then the person “defeats” the straw-man argument.

The problem? The person never did “defeat” his opponent to begin with, since the opponent’s position was not the same position as advertised.

For example, Sally says that she does not like working when she is tired. Then Betty tells someone else that Sally said she does not like working, but then Betty continues and says that she thinks Sally is being lazy.

Betty misrepresented Sally’s position, and then “defeated” Sally’s position even though that was not her position to begin with. Sally never said she did not like working at all, only when she was tired.

Summary: Straw-man arguments are nothing more than misrepresenting what someone said to make your argument look valid.  Technically you could consider a straw-man argument a form of lying.


Posted in General, Logical Fallacies, Society