What is a scarecrow argument? Definition and examples (2023)

Imagine you are arguing with a scarecrow. You can argue all you want and the scarecrow won't argue. In fact, you can make more of any argument you want. 🇧🇷 🇧🇷 you can position yourselfthe ScarecrowArgue how you want and tailor it to the perfect position to argue against.

When you make a scarecrow argument, you are essentially arguing against an imaginary scarecrow. It's an easy way to make your argument appear infallible - and that makes it a fallacy of logic.

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What is a scarecrow argument?

A scarecrow argument, sometimes called the scarecrow argument or scarecrow argument, is thatlogical fallacyto distort an opposing position into an extreme version of itself and then to argue against that extreme version. In crafting a straw man argument, the argumentator strips the opposing point of view of all nuance and often misrepresents it in a negative light.

(Video) The Strawman Fallacy | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

The scarecrow fallacy is aerror informal, implying that the fault lies in the argumentator's method of reasoning, not in the faults of the argument itself. The straw man fallacy avoids the actual argument of the opponent and instead argues against an inaccurate caricature of him. This is the straw man errorRelevance fallacy, because the argumentator does not get involved with the relevant components of his opponent's position.

Other common logical fallacies are the following:

  • for the man
  • diversionary tactics
  • mistake
  • slippery slope
  • hasty generalization
  • appeal to authority
  • wrong dilemma
  • wave fallacy
  • appeal to ignorance
  • circular reasoning
  • Sunk cost fallacy
  • call for pity
  • causal error
  • appeal to hypocrisy
  • You too

History of the Straw Man Fallacy

One of the earliest references to the scarecrow argument comes from Martin Luther. In his book of 1520About the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, he explained that one of the Church's criticisms of him was that he argued against the ministry of the Eucharist according to a ministry practice, although he had never made that argument. He described these criticisms as "they assert the same things they attack or set up a straw man to attack".

Later recognition of the straw man fallacy as a clear logical fallacy dates from the 20th century. Scholars generally agree that the term came from the idea of ​​creating a simplified imaginary adversary that is easy to defeat, such as B. a scarecrow or a military training dummy.

How does the scarecrow argument work?

A scarecrow argument is constructed by presenting an opposing position as a distorted and extreme version of itself. There are several ways a person can turn a reasonable argument into a scarecrow:

  • oversimplify: An argumentator may rehash a complex or multifaceted question as a simple black and white question.
  • Focus on just part of the counter-argument:In doing so, the argumentator ignores the various factors at play and, much like oversimplifying the counter-argument, presents a small fraction of it as if that fraction were the whole.
  • Taken out of context: For example, an individual campaigning for better pedestrian protection measures might say “cars are dangerous” and his opponent might turn this into a scarecrow and claim that the activist thinks cars should be banned .
  • Presenting a marginal or extreme version of an opposing argument as its main version:For example, someone could create a scarecrow claiming that all vegans are against all forms of animal captivity, including pet keeping.

Scarecrow arguments are used in a variety of ways. In a live debate, one can be used to corner the opposing debater and force them to defend an extreme or unpopular position. in one pieceWrite, a scarecrow argument, makes it easy for the author to make his position sound rational and attractive. In doing so, however, the author gives readers a biased view of the topic they are discussing. If readers are unfamiliar with the topic, it can give them misconceptions and prevent them from forming informed opinions about the topic. And if the readersarebeing familiar with the topic can make the writer look stupid and cause readers to take their position less seriously.

When and why is the scarecrow fallacy used?

You've probably seen and heard scarecrow arguments in webcomics, podcasts, on the radio, in blogs, and on TV. They often appear in politiciansrhetoric🇧🇷 You might even have used them without realizing it.

People use scarecrow arguments for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's about turning the opponent into a boogeyman that fans can easily rally against. Other times, it's due to a genuine misunderstanding of an opponent's position. Keep these two points in mind when faced with a scarecrow argument.

(Video) CRITICAL THINKING - Fallacies: Straw Man Fallacy [HD]

The easiest way to identify a strawman argument is to determine whether an argument seems too simple or too extreme to be true. Check out these statements:

  • My opponent hates animals and doesn't care how many are displaced by his project.
  • Our new director wants to ban all fun.
  • Their only priority is to make more money for their shareholders.

See how all of these statements contain simple statements that lack nuance? This is an essential feature of a straw man argument. In fact, those who oppose the first statement are focused on developing their project and prioritizing it at the expense of environmental concerns, but that doesn't mean they hate animals. The principal in the second statement may be making changes to his school, but saying he wants to ban all fun things eliminates any opportunity for productive dialogue in talking about those changes. And in the third statement, the company in question may prioritize maintaining its shareholders' profits -- but that is highly unlikely to be the case for them.only Priority.

How to Dispute a Scarecrow Argument

To combat a straw man version of your position, repeat your position in the clearest and most explicit language possible. The clearer you are, the more difficult it is for your opponent to distort or take your work out of context. This works as both a scarecrow prevention strategy and a scarecrow refutation strategy.

If you're misrepresented by a scarecrow, stay calm and try to avoid fooling your opponent in return or letting your argument fall into other fallacies like the tu quoque fallacy (where you accuse your opponent of the same mistake , which you are accused of). Regardless of what you respond to, using fallacies in your speech will only hurt your position. Here are more effective ways to combat the scarecrow argument:

  • Ask your opponent to explain their claim:Depending on the complaint, ask where they got your information from or how they came to that conclusion based on your statements and actions.
  • Point out that your opponent misrepresents you:Just call it what it is: a scarecrow argument.

Defeating the Scarecrow's arguments isn't the only skill you need to develop to protect your work from being harmed in this way. You also need to know how to spot them in your own writing. When writing aargumentativeorconvincing essay, it can be easy to use scarecrow arguments - even accidentally!

Before making a counter-argument in your letter, make sure you understand it clearly. One way to test this is to imagine that you take the opposite point of view and write a well-articulated argument from that position. If possible, ask someone who takes this opposing position if their understanding is correct.

No matter how strongly you resist another position, it's important to fully understand it for several reasons:

  • When you understand the opposing perspective, you can make a stronger argument yourself. If you're able to think critically about an opposing argument and formulate thoughtful responses, your writing will be more effective.
  • In a debate or other scenario where you're arguing back and forth with your opponent, fully understanding their position can allow you to anticipate their refutations and plan your responses accordingly.
  • Understanding opposing viewpoints also allows you to empathize with your opponents. Understanding their perspectives can help you have more productive discussions with them — and if the goal is policy change, it can help them work together towards a mutually beneficial solution.

Watch out for scarecrow arguments (and other fallacies of logic) as you read your first draft. If you review them, you may need to go back and do more research on the topic you are talking about. So make sure you give yourself enough time to do additional research before you start working on your assignment.

(Video) The "Straw Man" Fallacy Explained in 90 Seconds

Examples of straw man arguments

Here are some more examples of scarecrow arguments. Remember that scarecrow arguments often arise in response to what others have said.

Person 1:Because of the break-ins in our building, I think we should add more security cameras.

Person 2:So you're saying you don't trust your neighbors?

Person 1:I think we should mute the debaters' microphones when it's their opponents' turn to speak so they can't interrupt each other.

Person 2:I disagree because I support freedom of speech.

Person 1:Our restaurant policy is that no one under the age of 18 will be admitted after 8pm.

Person 2:Why are you against families having dinner together?

Person 1:We welcome guests of all ages before 8pm, but at night we maintain an adults-only atmosphere.

(Video) Straw Man Fallacy Example

Person 2:Your restaurant discriminates against families with children.

Frequently asked questions about the scarecrow argument

What is a scarecrow argument?

A straw man argument is the logical fallacy of distorting an opponent's position into an extreme version of itself and then arguing against that extreme version.

How it works?

A scarecrow argument is constructed by presenting an opposing position as a distorted and extreme version of itself. The argumentator tries to ridicule his opponent and/or make his own position appear as the only rational option.

What are some examples of the scarecrow argument?

example 1

Person 1:Because of the break-ins in our building, I think we should add more security cameras.

Person 2:So you're saying you don't trust your neighbors?

example 2

My opponent hates animals and doesn't care how many are displaced by his project.

(Video) Steel Man Argument - Explained

Example 3

All vegans are against animal captivity, including keeping pets.


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