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The False Dilemma Fallacy, also known as the ‘Either-Or’ fallacy, occurs when:
You are presented with 2 options and told that only one is true whilst the other is false, whereas in reality -additional options exist.
In the case where there are three options instead of two, the fallacy is re-stated as False Trilemma.
The Logical Structure of this Fallacy is as follows:
Either X or Y is true.
Either X or Y or Z is true.
In other words, one will leap to a conclusion without considering other alternatives, and reason:
Either A or B…
if not A then B…
if not B then A.
All the while ignoring options C, D, or E.
Real Life Example:
“Either we raise taxes [A], or our economy collapses [B].”
[Either A, or B]
The reasoning here is that if taxes are not raised [not A], then the economy will collapse [then B].
Or, that the economy will not collapse [not B], only if taxes are raised [then A].
The premise is fallacious because there are other options, as one might argue…
- How about cutting down on military spending? [C]
- Or, reduce bloated government salaries?” [D]
- Or, implement favorable trade policies?” [E]
False Dilemma Fallacy Examples:
- “You are either with us or against us.”
- “America; Love it or Leave It”
- “Either she truly does possess psychic abilities or she’s a fraud.”
- “I didn’t see you at the fundraiser event the other day; I thought you were a good person!”
- “You will either vote for her during elections or you don’t believe in women’s rights.”
- “Eric had all the opportunities to excel in mathematics and yet his grades were mediocre. Linda, on the other hand, displayed an incredible aptitude from the beginning. Clearly, geniuses are born and not made.”
- “The doctor had no plausible explanation on how the patient could have possibly made a full recovery, miracles do exist!”
“We can serve you either tea or coffee”
In this case, the restaurant clearly has a limited number of options. Thus, it would be a waste of time if a customer insisted on ordering a milkshake or a latte.
Notice how often you present yourself with false dilemmas of your own:
“They’re not showing Game of Thrones tonight, I should go out for a drink.”
Don’t limit your options by looking at situations through a mere black and white lens, most of the time, there is a spectrum of choices.