Strawman argument

strawman argument – or simply strawman – is an argument that misrepresents a position of the other side, in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is. The arguer then refutes the arguer’s misrepresentation of the position, leading others to conclude that the real position has been refuted.  

It is an intentional misrepresentation of an opponent’s position, often used in debates with unsophisticated audiences to make it appear that the opponent’s arguments are more easily defeated than they are. It leaves the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one.

The straw man argument is a fallacy, of course, because it has done nothing to actually refute the position of the other side of the argument, nor provide any evidentiary support for either side of the argument.

Example of a strawman argument

The pro-vaccine people do not care about autistic children. That’s why vaccines should be considered dangerous.