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September 24th, 2009

Taxonomy – Where am I?


classification : informal – red herring

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.


A fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic.

Presenting and refuting a weakened form of an opponent’s arguments can be a part of a valid argument. For example, one can argue that the opposing position implies that at least one other statement—being presumably easier to refute than the original position—must be true. If one refutes this weaker proposition, the refutation is valid and does not fit the above definition of a “straw man” argument.

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