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Thread: Strawman term used too loosely?

  1. #1

    Default Strawman term used too loosely?

    Does anyone ever feel people use this word at someone to shut their opinion down and their perspective?

    This is what I notice from time to time online on message boards and I get accused of it sometimes. But to me it comes off as trying to gaslight me and a way to shut my perspectives down and opinions. When someone doesn't like what you say, they call it a strawman.

    Straw man is supposed to be when you argue about something with someone about something they never even said but this term seems to get used when they don't like your anologies or when you go by logic.

  2. #2


    This site probably has a habit of using it often, though it's usually used correctly. I took a writing course about 15 years ago. The course was directed toward writing persuasive arguments and we used a text book that outlined a lot of the ways used to persuade one's opinion, both good and bad devises. The straw man argument throws something else into the argument that on the surface, seems related, but in reality, is something different, if that makes sense. There are members on this site who do a better job than I identifying logic devises and explaining them.

    If you want really bad examples of logic, listen to Donald Trump when he rants. He's the master of the straw man devise.

  3. #3


    I think lots of fallacy accusations are thrown around pretty carelessly in response to whatever arguments they disagree with. (Generally these are people who have just learned what fallacies are or who have just learned what role they can play in 'critical thinking'.)

    It can definitely be a way of shutting someone down unfairly or gaslighting him. If someone accuses you of a fallacy, it seems like you must show that you are not guilty of it or else revise your argument. Realistically, though, that burden is not on you. No one should accuse anyone of a fallacy unless he is prepared to spell out a) how he understand the argument in question and b) why it meets the standard for the particular fallacy. How much detail is necessary in a particular case is hard to say, but it is safe to say that one should err on providing more detail and argument than one is inclined to think necessary.

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