posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 05:54 PM
The informal fallacy of false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, or bifurcation) involves a situation in which only two
alternatives are considered, when in fact there are other options. Closely related are failing to consider a range of options and the tendency to
think in extremes, called black-and-white thinking. Strictly speaking, the prefix "di" in "dilemma" means "two". When a list of more than two
choices are offered, but there are other choices not mentioned, then the fallacy is called the fallacy of false choice.
False dilemma can arise intentionally, when fallacy is used in an attempt to force a choice ("If you are not with us, you are against us.") But
the fallacy can arise simply by accidental omission—possibly through a form of wishful thinking or ignorance—rather than by deliberate
A simple analogy of how I can manipulate you
"Do you want vanilla or strawberry ice cream?"
In 9 out of 10 cases you will answer either "vanilla" or "strawberry".
What I didnt mention is about 100 more flavours and mixes thereof, you could have chosen. I basically pre-paved the choice for you.
Examples of what are in my opinion false dichotomies and areas of exaggerated stereotype and black/white thinking:
Creationism vs. Atheism
Left-Wing vs. Right-Wing Politics
Skeptic vs. Believer
In reality nobody is fully "one" of these sides and someone else "the other".
Lets take the Creationism vs. Evolution/Atheism debate as an example:
1. There are many people who include both
into their view as not mutually exclusive.
2. There are many people who subscribe to neither of the two viewpoints
3. There are people who call themselves "atheists" but in reality dont even have a side or a worldview or a belief (should more appropiately be
termed agonostic though).
4. There are many christians who teach evolution-theory.
What "false dichotomies" do is limit perception, limit communication two a very narrow band of predictable statements and stereotypical behaviour.
[edit on 12-6-2008 by Skyfloating]