False Dichotomy

False dichotomy is an example of a logical fallacy, which is a failure of reasoning. And that’s just what false dichotomy is, a failure of reasoning.

But, more specifically, we can define false dichotomy as when the author creates an artificial sense that there are only two possible alternatives in a situation. And, by doing that, the author limits both the reader’s options and imagination.

The following transcript is provided for your convenience.
The next lesson for you: Historical Context; these lessons are included in the practice tests.

And so, this fallacy is common when the author has an agenda and wants to give the impression that their view is the only sensible one. And so, readers should always be suspicious of the false dichotomy.

When an author limits alternatives, the reader must ask, “Is the author being valid?”

Now, an example of false dichotomy is:

You need to go to the party with me, otherwise you’ll just be bored at home.”

And so, here, the speaker suggests that the only other possibility besides being at the party is being bored at home. This is not true, as it is perfectly possible to be entertained at home, or even to go somewhere other than the party.

And so, this is an example of false dichotomy, because here, the author is creating that artificial sense that there are only two possible alternatives. One is to go to the party, and one is to be bored at home.

And remember that I said the author wants to give the impression that their view is the only sensible one. And so, here, the only sensible option looks like to go to the party, because who wants to be bored at home? Whereas really, there are many options, and there are many sensible options in this situation.

So, that’s why this is an example of false dichotomy.

Practice tests help you remember. Take this mini-test to solidify your memory.
Mini-test: False Dichotomy 

1. Which of the following sentences presents a false dichotomy?
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B.  
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D.  
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?
A.  
B.  
C.  
D.  

 

The next lesson for you: Historical Context; these lessons are included in the practice tests.

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