False Dichotomy-Explanations and Examples

False dichotomy. This actually a logical fallacy, a failure of reasoning. And that’s now what false dichotomy is. It is a failure of reasoning.

But, to be more specific, we can say it is false dichotomy when authors create a sort of artificial sense that we have just two possibilities or alternatives in a given situation. Well, by doing so, authors are both limiting the readers’ options and their imagination.

Mini-test: False Dichotomy 

1. Which of the following sentences presents a false dichotomy?

Question 1 of 2

2. Darth Vader in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith told Obi-Wan Kenobi 'If you're not with me, then you're my enemy'.

Why is this statement a false dichotomy?

Question 2 of 2


Next Lesson: Essay Writing process

This transcript is added solely for your convenience. Fallacies are common when authors have an agenda and want to give the readers the impression that the view they radiate is the only one that’s sensible. So, the reader must at all times be suspicious of this false dichotomy.

If authors limit the alternatives or options, readers must ask themselves, “Is this author really being valid?”

Okay, I’ll give you an example of what a false dichotomy is:

You should go to that party with me; if you don’t, you’ll just sit bored at home.”

So, here, the speaker is suggesting that the single one possibility, besides going to the party with the speaker, is sitting bored at home. Well, this, of course, cannot be true, It is very well possible to get entertained at one’s home, or perhaps go somewhere else than that party.

So this is a good example of what we call a false dichotomy, In the example, the author creates an artificial sense of there being only two options or possible alternatives. The first is to go with him to that party, and the other one is to sit bored at home.

Keep in mind that I said before that here, authors want to give the reader the impression that only their view is sensible. So, here, the only one sensible alternative seems to be going to the party with the speaker, since who would want to sit bored at home?

Well, in reality, there are so many different possible options. There many sensible options possible in a situation like this. So, this was an example of what we call “a false dichotomy”.


Last Updated on August 18, 2020.

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