To misrepresent somebody's argument so you can knock it down more easily:
To be an atheist, you have to believe with absolute certainty that there is no God. In order to convince yourself with absolute certainty, you must examine all the Universe and all the places where God could possibly be. Since you obviously haven't, your position is indefensible."

Peope who use this method don't have a brain or a PhD.

  1. A front-man used to provide cover for a surreptitious operation.
  2. A red herring used as a diversion. See deCSS.
  3. A variation on false dichotomy, adding an element of ad hominem attack, using hyperbole or comical outlying example. A technique of intellectual bullying.

    Unfortunately, people with brains and PhDs do this when they get defensive or knee-jerk dismissive. Signs of deep denial.

A logical fallacy in which the author attacks an argument different from (and usually weaker or more extreme than) the opposition's argument. People usually do this when preaching to the choir to rile them up, or when they don't have any good counterargument.

Example: General Wesc has a good one above.

To prove that a Straw Man has been used, give the opposition's better argument to show that it has been misrepresented.

Sometimes crying "straw man!" is a method of avoiding debate.

It is true that the poor debate tactic of erecting a straw man does exist and is often used. Unfortunately, accusing someone of straw man is also a powerful tool to shut up those to whom you do not wish to listen.

Being accused of "straw manning" is stigmatizing. To those in rhetorical circles, a debater who has been decried for use of a straw man can become something of an outcast (at least for the duration of the debate). As such, it can be a last-ditch effort of someone losing a debate to cry "straw man!".

The burden of proof that they are not, in fact, using a straw man then falls to the accused. This process can be highly digressive, which fulfills the accuser's intention: to deflect attention from their shaky position.

Again, this is not to say that it is invalid to point out the use of a straw man. But it should be recognized that accusing someone of "straw-manning" can be overly damning. Especially if the accused was not intentionally erecting a straw man.

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