Fallacious Arguments Series -Strawman
Common logical fallacies and how to counter them.
When the person with whom you’re engaging purposely either oversimplifies or misrepresents what you’ve said.
Gloria: Vaccines go through a rigorous and thorough approval process, various stages of randomised trials and peer review.
Albert: So you’re saying all vaccines are 100% safe and no one has ever been injured by a vaccine.
Clearly, that is not what Gloria said, or what any reasonable person would take as her meaning. It’s an attempt to make Gloria defend the point Albert made, rather than Albert having to rebut the point Gloria made. Albert knows he can easily discredit Gloria if she tries to argue on his chosen terms. Let’s say she did take the bait:
Gloria: Some have, but not a statistically significant number.
Albert: Are you dismissing the suffering of everyone who has been injured by a vaccine? They are people! You don’t care about people!
Some ways Gloria can avoid this trap include: pointing out Albert's statement as a strawman and asking him to prove what she is saying is the same as his distorted claim, ignoring the strawman and continuing the conversation, or ending the discussion.