Straw Man Fallacy

A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.

Person 1:

I think pollution from humans contributes to climate change.

Person 2:

So, you think humans are directly responsible for extreme weather, like hurricanes, and have caused the droughts in the southwestern U.S.? If that’s the case, maybe we just need to go to the southwest and perform a “rain dance.”

The comic below gives you a little insight into what this fallacy might look like. Join Captain Logic as he works to thwart the evil fallacies of Dr. Fallacy!

Straw man logical fallacy comic with the evil Dr. Fallacy.

Straw man logical fallacy comic with the OWL Superhero.

In this example, you’ll notice how Dr. Fallacy completely distorted the speaker’s point. While this is an extreme example, it’s important to be careful not to fall into this kind of fallacy on a smaller scale because it’s quite easy to do. Think about times you may have even accidentally misrepresented the other side in an argument. We have to be careful to avoid even the accidental straw man fallacy!

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