49r wrote:The straw man fallacy is a rhetorical technique (also classified as a logical fallacy) based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position; deriving from the use of straw men in combat training.
In logic and rhetoric
A straw-man argument is the practice of refuting a weaker argument than an opponent actually offers. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to your opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is also a logical fallacy, since the argument actually presented by your opponent has not been refuted, only a weaker argument.
One can set up a straw man in the following ways:
Present the opponent's argument in weakened form, refute it, and pretend that the original has been refuted.
Present a misrepresentation of the opponent's position, refute it, and pretend that the opponent's actual position has been refuted.
Present someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, refute that person's arguments, and pretend that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.
Invent a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, and pretend that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.
Some logic textbooks define the straw-man fallacy only as a misrepresented argument. It is now common, however, to use the term to refer to all of these tactics. The straw-man technique is also used as a form of media manipulation.
An example of the Straw Man technique would be:
Debater A: "I don't think that children should play out in the busy streets."
Debater B: "I think it's very cruel to deny children their freedom to play out of doors, or to go wherever they please. Children should not be kept locked-up in their own homes as my opponent suggests."
However, carefully presenting and refuting a weakened form of an opponent's argument is not always itself a fallacy. Instead, it restricts the scope of the opponent's argument, either to where the argument is no longer relevant or as a step of a proof by exhaustion.
As a rhetorical term, "straw man" describes a point of view that was created in order to be easily defeated in argument; the creator of a "straw man" argument does not accurately reflect the best arguments of his or her opponents, but instead sidesteps or mischaracterizes them so as to make the opposing view appear weak or ridiculous.
The name 'straw man' comes from a physical analogy which highlights the fallacious nature of the a straw man argument. Imagine two men in a fight. The first person throws a punch at the second, and the second person, in defence, builds a man from straw, starts throwing punches at it, and later claims victory for winning the fight against the other person.
Thanks for the effort 49r; I am afraid it went right over the head in question though.