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Understanding the Straw Man Argument

by Staff

The straw man fallacy is one of the many logical fallacies that manifest when people are making arguments or trying to prove something.

A straw man argument happens when someone exaggerates someone else’s point into an extreme and distorted one. The first person creates a strawman, a distorted version of their opponent’s argument.

The goal of the distortion is to make the person’s point be depicted in a negative light to make it easy to argue against that person’s position.

The straw man argument is used extensively in many topics and discussions, making it important to understand. Experts from the Essays Service writing platform for students have mastered logical fallacies, which helps them avoid errors that would weaken their arguments in research papers.

The straw man fallacy is considered an informal fallacy as the flaw does not lie in the argument but in the person’s argument technique. The person arguing does not argue with the relevant elements of the opposition’s stance.

Understanding the logical fallacies is important to navigate arguments when debating and working on your philosophy assignments and other academic projects. To avoid errors in reasoning, consider using professional writing services. To find a good one, you can check these best essay writing services reviews.

When Do People Use Straw Man Fallacy

You have probably encountered straw man arguments in discussions and debates and used them without noticing.

There are many reasons why people use the fallacy in their discussions. For instance, by exaggerating another person’s point and putting it in a negative light, you rally people against them. The argument is also used due to a misunderstanding of communication from the opponent.

Types of Straw Man Fallacy

When the straw man fallacy is used, the points are presented in their most extreme versions. There are different ways people use it in their arguments.

Oversimplifying Arguments

An arguer might oversimplify an argument, making a layered and complex issue black and white. When an opponent’s argument is oversimplified, it becomes easy for the arguer to attack. Oversimplification misrepresents a stance and denies it an opportunity for a fair discussion.

Presenting Extreme Versions of an Opinion

A person may argue against extreme opinions that the opponent did not use. They do this to support their argument.

Taking an Opponent’s Point Out of Context

An arguer can take their opponent’s opinion out of context. This exaggerates the original point, rallying supporters against the opponent. A person may also do this to make their argument simpler.

Ignoring Some Aspects of an Argument

The arguer could also ignore certain aspects of the opponent’s point and focus on specific parts that favor theirs. They do this to oversimplify the said point and focus on details that may appear negative.

Using the different types of straw man fallacy, people can turn reasonable points into unpopular opinions and make their arguments appear rational.

How to Counter a Straw Man

Often arguers use the argument to force the opponent to defend a distorted version of their opinion. When used in writing, a straw man fallacy can make an argument enthralling and rational since the writer gives a biased and distorted idea of an issue.

As a reader unfamiliar with the fallacy, it may be hard for you to develop your own unbiased opinions on a topic. There are several ways you can take control of straw man arguments.

Using clear language in arguments is recommended to prevent the straw man fallacy caused by misinterpretation. The strategy, however, will not work if the arguer is determined to use a straw man. In this case, it would be best to know how to respond when someone uses the fallacy in a discussion.

Ignore

You can ignore your argument’s distorted and extreme version and defend your original position. Most of the time, the strategy will work when the opponent notices that you are firm on your stance and have identified a straw man.

If the strategy does not work, employ other techniques.

Point Out

You can indicate that the opponent is misrepresenting or misinterpreting your point. To further call out the fallacy, highlight why your opponent’s argument is a straw man.

You can even put them in a position where they must defend themselves and explain why they feel their distorted argument is the same as your original stand. This will back them into a corner, and they may end up justifying it with another logical fallacy, or they could cave in and admit that the argument was out of context.

The best technique to counter a straw man argument is to shed light on the distortion. Whichever strategy you use, try to remain calm and prevent your opponent from resorting to other logical fallacies. The deeper they go, the harder it will be for you to drive the argument back to your original stance.

To Sum Up: How to Avoid Straw Man Fallacy

Sometimes you can make a straw man argument unintentionally. To prevent such situations, understand the opponent’s position to argue logically and participate in productive discussion. Be on the lookout for distortion of points when you hear your opponent’s argument.

You can also reiterate your opponent’s argument and confirm that you have accurately described their position before disputing it. While you can use straw man to persuade people that your argument is rational, it is not always the best technique due to the moral issue associated with using fallacious arguments.

When writing, read through your piece to point out the straw man fallacy before submitting.

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