What English word do you recommend for
- something which is thought or even openly blamed to be the reason for a real problem, but is at most a part or result of said problem, not its cause
EDIT: and also strawman
come to mind, but are, respectively, too harsh, too unspecific, and too much blaming-the-blamer-for-having-set-up-the-perceived-reason.
Do you recommend references in Linguistics or Psychology journals on this topic?