Is there a word to describe an extremely exaggerated and ridiculous counter-example to the argument you want to make, that makes yours look good by contrast? e.g. "Yes, climate change is so serious that we should all stop breathing to reduce the global CO2 burden" or "I think drug companies should be free to just make chemicals at random and test them on the public". It is a combination of sarcasm and hyperbole, but I suspect there must be a precise word for the idea. Thoughts welcome. Thanks!


It doesn't quite fit your examples, but it sounds like the technique of reductio ad absurdum:

(Latin: argument to absurdity), is a common form of argument which seeks to demonstrate that a statement is true by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its denial, or in turn to demonstrate that a statement is false by showing that a false, untenable, or absurd result follows from its acceptance (-- wikipedia.org)


Strawman seems like the closest term.

  • Not really. A strawman has no connotations either of exaggeration or of being a counter-argument. – Chenmunka Mar 7 '16 at 11:16
  • 2
    I think strawman fits well, but it would help your answer to post a definition and link to some citation about it. – SuperBiasedMan Mar 7 '16 at 12:09

It's just that: hyperbolic sarcasm.

Rodney St.Michael, Illuminati: Healing and Developing the Mind, p.30

Plato obviously uses hyperbolic sarcasm to show that the "lowly" islanders of the small Pacific islands are more civilized than the cruel Arthenian government—the object of Plato's mockery.
(emphasis mine)


Old thread I know, but I came across this thread looking for a similar term. I was looking for a verb with the meaning of "hyperbolize or exaggerate to the point of absurdity".

The word I was looking for was caricature, which can be used as a noun or a verb.

He's such a dishonest debater; he just responds to a caricature of his opponents' arguments in order to make his own position look reasonable by comparison.


If you want your arguments to be taken seriously, you could start by not caricaturing everyone else's positions and actually address them at face value.

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