Take the most obvious, unimpeachable statement imaginable:
Drinking water is good for humans.
I am looking for a word that describes the action of taking the argument, applying some unreasonable logical extreme to it, then shooting that extreme version down. An example of such a response:
There was an ancient torture practice of using a hose to force a person to drink so much water that their belly would explode and kill them. Too much water is deadly and should be avoided.
Of course the problem is the response doesn't address the argument. The response addresses an extremist form of the statement that was never made. The implication is the original statement was The more water a person drinks the better or something similar.
My first thought was this falls in the class of a straw man argument, because it is shooting down a statement that was never made. Generally, the statement is made, just not such an extreme version of it. Of all the straw man derivatives, I thought nut picking was the closest:
nut picking refers to intentionally seeking out extremely fringe, non-representative statements or individuals from members of an opposing group and parading these as evidence of that entire group's incompetence or irrationality
This isn't adequate, however, because nut picking requires the extremism to be present elsewhere. What I am curious about is when it is derived as some wildly unchecked extensions of the original argument.
Is there a term more specific than straw man that describes this action of taking a statement to an unreasonable extreme and responding to that extreme version?
Just so folks don't get too hung up on the water example, I'll throw out some others here. Try to avoid focusing on the example and more on the concept of taking a statement to an unreasonable extreme.
- If I got a raise I would feel less financial stress. Lottery winners get lots of money at once and are significantly more likely to file for bankruptcy.
- Citing your sources is good practice. If every single sentence was cited the paper would be unreadable.
- Gasoline is helpful for modern transportation. If you filled an entire car with gas not only would the driver pass out from the fumes, but the whole car would explode and kill everybody.