Manipulating People with False Dichotomies

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posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 05:54 PM
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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 deception.


Source

A simple analogy of how I can manipulate you using this:

"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]




posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 06:18 PM
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More in depth information:





Mortons Fork

Very often a Morton's Fork, a choice between two equally unpleasant options, is a false dilemma. The phrase originates from an argument for taxing English nobles:

"Either the nobles of this country appear wealthy, in which case they can be taxed for good; or they appear poor, in which case they are living frugally and must have immense savings, which can be taxed for good."

This is a false dilemma, because some members of the nobility may in fact lack liquid assets.

False Choice

The presentation of a false choice often reflects a deliberate attempt to eliminate the middle ground on an issue. A modern example of this is George W. Bush's speech of September 20, 2001, in which he said

Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.[2]


Black and White thinking

A common form of the false dilemma is black-and-white thinking. Many people routinely engage in black-and-white thinking, an example of which is feeling boundless optimism when things are going well and suddenly switching to total despair at the first setback. Another example is someone who labels other people as all good or all bad.[citation needed]

There is no alternative

The assertion that there is no alternative is an example of the false dichotomy taken to its ultimate extreme, in which the options are reduced to one, the proposal of the speaker. Of course the speaker does not believe there are no alternatives otherwise he would not bother to argue the point; rather he opposes the alternatives and seeks to dismiss them by denying their existence.

"This was the mantra chanted by 'dries' during the prime ministerial reign of Margaret Thatcher, by which they demonstrated their belief that free-market capitalism was the only possible economic theory. It was said so often amongst them that it was shortened to TINA. The hard-right Thatcherites called themselves 'dries' to demonstrate their opposition to the 'wets', i.e. the One-Nation Tories whom Thatcher despised. Wet was the public school nickname for any boy who showed any sign of caring for his fellow beings."[citation needed]





posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 06:27 PM
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Very interesting. I have always had a problem with the left vs. right wing. It's not as if there are only two teams and it forces people to bend their true feelings in order to conform.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 06:31 PM
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It's kinda like asking someone "Do you agree with this line of reasoning?".

Seperating the Rams from the Sheep, one could say...



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 06:35 PM
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Yes!! And the more one hears a false dichotomy, the more it sounds like a "truth", that those are the only choices.

Offering only two choices might be a way to parent a child, but adults offering fd's to other adults in public discourse smacks of either manipulation or someone who cannot/doesn't want to discern nuances/other choices.

I detest one current public fd to solve the energy crisis: oil or nuclear.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 07:02 PM
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Left Vs. Right
Religious Vs. Atheist
Sceptic Vs. Believer
Yes these are false dichotomies that people tend to fall into when in arguments and that mainstream media show all the time, and very few people truly fall into fully on one side while most are some where in-between. We fall into this because
A: it’s far more entertaining to go too an extreme side in an argument against the other side then is to sit in the middle.
B: the people representing the two sides of the debates mentioned are funny. Sitting back watching people like Dawkins or Stine fight it out in public ripping each other up in books and videos is entertainment in its purest form we get to laugh at their low brow humour and think that we are smart because we are reading something “educational”.
C: We as a people when we need to be, can be extremely industrious, but given half a chance we will slack off as much as possible. We know that there are other options then just left or right but until they mess up on an unforgivable level then we just don’t care.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 07:10 PM
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Entertaining...yes. Good point. A rarely made point in this context.

In fact...it is hilarious to see someone being a "role/side" so purely.

(Dont know how funny it is that the audience falls for it though)



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 08:00 PM
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It's frequently one of the first steps in any group discussion where consensus is needed - give two pre-approved and acceptable options - but then it often leads to this:

The Delphi Technique

Another form of manipulation and controlling the debate. The group is steered to the most desired outcome, only now the group thinks they came up with the idea in the first place with the added bonus of marginalizing the dissenters within the group and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the rest.

Diabolical. Beware the brainstorming meeting.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 08:03 PM
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And then there are those who sit on the fence until their bums can take it no more. Fence sitting encourages indecision. One must eventually make a decision that falls to one side of center. For "good" or "bad". And then learn from it. Pendulum swinging for eternity, until it settles somewhere comfortable. Being able to truely listen to both sides, and everything in between is what we should do first, before making firm decisions while using our own heart as our guide. It is ok to make mistakes along the way, as long as you are doing something. Being patient with others while they do this is necessary. It takes time to work it out. Together it takes less time. We need each other to do it when it comes to the bigger issues.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 08:42 PM
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Excellent post. Something that has been present for a very long time. I have only started to see it a few months ago but the more and more I understand this topic, the more I see it everywhere. It's staring at us all in the face so hard, I can't believe I wasn't aware of it earlier. Well done.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:00 PM
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Originally posted by Skyfloating

(Dont know how funny it is that the audience falls for it though)


I think that very few people fall for it, most probably don't care unfortuneatly.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:24 PM
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The reason this technique works is quite simple, really:

There are two types of people: those who can be categorized into one of two possible groups, and those who cannot.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:33 PM
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Originally posted by Ian McLean
There are two types of people: those who can be categorized into one of two possible groups, and those who cannot.


Ah, pop-wisdom.

How i detest it so.

There is another way of looking at it, by the way - in that the one who is using the technique is conciously deluding himself into believing that people can be categorised into 2 seperate groups.

It only works because he believes it works.

It's nothing more than a trick of confidence, friend.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:40 PM
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Originally posted by Anti-Tyrant
Ah, pop-wisdom.

[emotive response]


Thanks, my point exactly. I in no way intended to deceive.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:44 PM
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reply to post by Ian McLean
 


I take it, therefore, that because of my [emotive response] that ensures that i fall into one of the two categories?

Hmm... why do i get the feeling that it's something along the lines of "Those who cannot control their emotions" and "Those who can", or something like that?

If this is the case, then i take it you have something of a soft-spot for psychology then?



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:53 PM
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Originally posted by Anti-Tyrant
I take it, therefore, that because of my [emotive response] that ensures that i fall into one of the two categories?

I certainly wouldn't categorize you. To get back to the OP's point, I think that false dichotomies are used, often deliberately, by politicians and 'opinion makers', because they can elicit an emotional response, and link that response to an otherwise purely rational discussion. See, when dichotomous arguments are presented, the listener is somewhat forced, by ego, to consider themselves and where they stand in relation to those two sides. If they don't like either alternative, the emotional / rational conflict can become a little desperate, and they become susceptible to manipulation: the mind often searches for the fastest path to eliminate that conflict.



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 09:55 PM
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reply to post by Ian McLean
 


Oh no, please do.

Categorise me all you like - i would welcome being acknowledged no matter how negatively.

Ti's better to be hated, than be ignored, one would think.




posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 10:08 PM
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Originally posted by Anti-Tyrant
Categorise me all you like - i would welcome being acknowledged no matter how negatively.

Ti's better to be hated, than be ignored, one would think.


Let me first apologise for seeming to objectify you and your opinion! I agree with you, indifference is more the 'true evil' than hatred. Were I to be arrogant enough (which I sometimes am!) to categorise you, I consider you a free, rational, and empathic thinker!



posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 10:09 PM
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reply to post by Ian McLean
 


Or, a devious, psychologically-aware, introspective maniac!

You see?

It's nothing more than a trick of confidence, like i said.




posted on Jun, 12 2008 @ 10:11 PM
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Originally posted by Anti-Tyrant
Or, a devious, psychologically-aware, introspective maniac!


Touche, sir!






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