Straw man

About 10 years ago, I started hearing one of my former colleagues talking a lot about building a ‘straw man’. What he meant was sketching out a proposal approach in a rough outline that was detailed enough for people to start commenting on the direction of the proposal, but was not yet fully fleshed out.

I have never come across anyone else using ‘straw man’ in that sense, before or since then. I have only heard it as a debating term: deliberately converting someone else’s argument into an extreme caricature version that is much easier to knock down—and then knocking down that extreme ‘straw man’ version, without taking on the other person’s real (and stronger) argument.

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