Your Fallacy Is


(Also related to: "Scapegoating", "Straw Dog Fallacy", "Distraction", "Hasty Generalization", "Mis-direction", "Ad Hominem", "Guilt By Association")

Instead of arguing the issue at hand, you instead begin arguing against something else.

This often involves arguing against an ambiguous entity, construct, group or opponent, that may or may not have anything to do with what's being discussed.

You set up your own "straw man" (i.e. "liberals", "nazis", etc.) and attack it instead of the actual issue being raised.

The straw man fallacy occurs in the following pattern of argument:

  1. Person 1 asserts proposition X.
  2. Person 2 argues against a superficially similar proposition Y, falsely, as if an argument against Y were an argument against X.

This reasoning is a fallacy of relevance: it fails to address the proposition in question by misrepresenting the opposing position.

For example:

  • Quoting an opponent's words out of context—i.e., choosing quotations that misrepresent the opponent's intentions.
  • Presenting someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, then denying that person's arguments—thus giving the appearance that every upholder of that position (and thus the position itself) has been defeated.
  • Oversimplifying an opponent's argument, then attacking this oversimplified version.