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Showing posts from February, 2016

False Dichotomies v Real Dichotomies

I listened to the You Are Not So Smart podcast today. It was episode 69: The White and Black Fallacy. I'm subscribed to it so I guess it is obvious I enjoy the show. But it was hard to listen to this one and I knew immediately it would be hard because of the first example they used: the quote from George W Bush's Nov. 9, 2001 speech:
Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.   I knew, when this quote led off the discussion that the analysis of this fallacy would be at least a little bit muddled. Unfortunately, the episode confirmed...well not the worst of my potential expectations, but definitely my more pessimistic ones.

On the good side, the panel gave an accurate definition of the fallacy: "Presenting an argument as if it offered only a specific limited number of choices when in fact there are more." They also pointed out the limited number need not be only two. And they gave the other terms for the fallacy: The False Dichotomy and The False Choice. …