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A false dilemma, or false dichotomy, is a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options or outcomes in such a way that they seem to be the only possibilities: that is, if one is true, the other must be false, or, more typically, if you do not accept one then the other must be accepted. The reality in most cases is that there are many in-between or other alternative options, not just two mutually exclusive ones.
- One of the most common false dilemmas encountered in modern discourse, especially in the United States, is that if there is any flaw at all in the theories of evolution, then creation science is the only other possible truth.
- This same bit of woo occurs, albeit less frequently, in many pseudosciences, taking the form of "since science has not perfectly explained phenomena X yet, my moonbat wingnuttery must be true." The obvious rebuttal to this "false dilemma" is that, the science only needs to be tweaked (or explored more) in order to provide an explanation. Even if it can't provide an answer immediately, of course, it is not proof of the "alternate" claim.
- "America - Love It Or Leave It" is a popular false dilemma. The dilemma suggests that a true patriot must embrace everything ever done by America, or become un-American. However, since America as a nation was founded on the concept of respectful political dissent, one must doubt the premise of this false dilemma very seriously.
- President George W Bush stated, in a speech about the War on Terror, that "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists". Nonsense. Believing that some measures taken by the Bush (or Obama, or any other) government were unnecessary, excessive or morally suspect obviously doesn't entail a murderous disregard for human life - quite the opposite, in many cases.
- A false dichotomy similar to the "America - Love It Or Leave It" and "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists" false dichotomies surrounds discussions about Israel. One example of this is how some persons insist that being critical of the state of Israel (including but not limited to its existence) or Israeli policies amounts to a) anti-Zionism and b) anti-Semitism. Another example is how persons both on the "pro-Palestinian side" and the "pro-Israeli side" claim that you cannot both support Israel's right to exist and Israel's right to self-defense and also support a free and independent Palestine.
- Pascal's Wager states that it is better to believe in God and be wrong than to risk burning in Hell—which would be a pretty safe bet if one assumes that there is only one true God Jehovah and worshiping him won't anger any of the multitude of other deities that have been created by humans over the millenia.
- The concept, from both sides of the "debate", that science and religion are mutually exclusive and one cannot believe in both.
- C. S. Lewis perpetrated the famous "Lord, Liar, Lunatic" false trilemma: "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse." This trilemma is itself based on a false dilemma: either every word attributed to the man Jesus is to be accepted as true and right and good, or every word attributed to the man Jesus must be rejected as false and wrong and evil. Either you accept Jesus as "the Son of God", or you think that "love thy neighbor" is no more valid than "I am a poached egg" and "Be ye merciful" is a command from "the Devil of Hell".
- Texas governor Rick Perry issued a debate challenge to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi during his 2012 GOP presidential candidate campaign, despite the fact that Pelosi isn't running and is a Democrat. Performing poorly in debates against other GOP candidates, he asked Pelosi to debate the his own plan to reformat Washington, D.C. versus the status quo--and if she refused, declined or did not respond, he told her that "I will take it to mean you will continue your obstructionist ways in the face of much needed Washington reform". Pelosi reportedly laughed at the request and declined, saying she was unavailable to debate due to a busy schedule.
- ↑ Bush's speech on Youtube
- ↑ "Failing miserably in GOP debates, Perry challenges Pelosi instead" on Raw Story
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