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Check Out False Dilemma Fallacy Examples & Don’t Fall For It Again

Logical fallacies are as common as argumentation. And everyone knows how we love to argue about things we’re interested in whenever we get the chance. That is why it is important to learn about fallacies and sharpen your critical skills.

Chances are you’ve come across the false dilemma fallacy a lot in your life. This fallacy is when two options are presented as if they are the only possible options when there are other options.

Sound familiar? Read on to check out false dilemma fallacy examples and learn how to avoid it.

What Is the False Dilemma Fallacy?

The false dilemma fallacy is also known as the false dichotomy, either-or, and black-and-white fallacy. The term “false dilemma” refers to an informal fallacy based on the number of options presented in an argument. It occurs when two choices are presented as if they are the only possible options.

A common form of this type of argument looks like this: “If we don’t pass this law, then people will die.”

This statement assumes that there are only two possibilities: passing the law or people dying. But there are other possibilities, such as not passing the law and people not dying. 

Just because someone presents two options doesn’t mean those are the only two options available. Moreover, it presents choices as if they are mutually exclusive options. Hence, it is a fallacious argument.

Let’s take a look at more examples of the false dilemma fallacy

False Dilemma Examples

Here are some more examples of the false dilemma fallacy. Reading these examples will help you understand and recognize this fallacy better.

  • She is either mistaken, or she is lying.
  • If you don’t support gun control, you support mass shootings.
  • If you don’t buy this product, you’ll have to buy that low-quality product.
  • If you don’t participate in the protest, you support the dictatorship
  • You’re either with us or against us.
  • If you don’t vote for him, you hate our country.
  • You either love the country or you hate it.
  • If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
  • “Drink water and be healthy; drink soda and be unhealthy!”
  • “Buy the solar panels if you are not a climate change denier!”

So, do you now see where the fault lies? In all these examples, it seems that we only have two choices. However, these are false choices, as there can be alternatives, middle grounds, and more options for all these situations.

However, the False dilemma fallacy is usually emotionally charged, so it isn’t easy to counter. Let’s move on to how you can identify and avoid the false dichotomy.

How to Recognize a False Dilemma Fallacy

The false dilemma presents a challenge, as it is often easy to miss in the what of argument. There are a few key things to consider when identifying a false dilemma fallacy.

  • First, see if the argument only offers two possible positions.
  • Second, see if the two positions are presented as being mutually exclusive. That is, see if the arguer says that you can only hold one of the two positions.
  • Third, see if the arguer says that one of the two positions is obviously correct or superior.

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then you’re dealing with a false dilemma fallacy. 

How to Avoid the False Dilemma Fallacy

To avoid the fallacy of false dichotomy, you must present multiple sides to an issue and allow your readers to come to their own conclusions.

For example, let’s say you’re writing about a controversial issue such as abortion. A way to AVOID presenting a false dilemma would be something like this:

“There are many different ways to think about abortion; some people believe it should be legal in all circumstances while others believe it should only be legal in certain circumstances.”

By presenting multiple sides to the issue, you’re allowing your reader to come to their own conclusion rather than dictating what they should believe.

The next time you’re discussing a controversial issue, make sure you avoid falling into the trap of presenting a false dilemma! Remember that just because someone else presents two options doesn’t mean those are the only two courses of action available. 

So do your research, consider all the factors involved, and make sure you present a well-rounded view of the issue you’re discussing. Only then will you truly avoid falling victim to the false dilemma fallacy! 

Emily Brown
Emily Brown

An experienced author and writing instructor. Has been teaching composition and creative writing at the college level since 2015.

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