A fallacy is a mistake in the logic of one’s thinking or communicating which leads to wrong conclusions. We as those who desire to be clear thinking and accurate about the properties of reality need to be familiar with fallacies as we are presented with them, in order to hone our ability to rightly appraise truth claims.
Definition: The straw man fallacy occurs when one restates another’s argument in a weaker form than originally presented or intended, distorting it or misrepresenting it, in order to make it easier to attack.
Examples: Wife: “Will you buy me a new pair of shoes?” Husband: “Why do you want to bankrupt me?!” (Is that what she said?)
“People who support abortion think cold-blooded murder is ok.” (Not likely, it’s much more nuanced than this simplification.)
“People who are against abortion have no respect for the rights of women.” (As above, untrue and over-simplified.)
Recognizing the fallacy: Often straw men come with broad general statements. Also, if you finding yourself spending lots of time clarifying what you didn’t mean, rather than arguing for what you did mean, you may be responding to a straw man fallacy.