(also known as: false dichotomy*, the either-or fallacy, either-or reasoning, fallacy of false choice, fallacy of false alternatives, black-and-white thinking, the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, bifurcation, excluded middle, no middle ground, polarization)
Description: When only two choices are presented yet more exist, or a spectrum of possible choices exists between two extremes. False dilemmas are usually characterized by “either this or that” language, but can also be characterized by omissions of choices. Another variety is the false trilemma, which is when three choices are presented when more exist.
“I thought you were a good person, but you voted for Trump”
This is an example of an omission choice. If you voted for Trump, there is no alternative, you are a bad person. There is no logic behind this statement, supporting Trump does not automatically classify one as a bad person and it definitely doesn’t mean they support his racist remarks or his disgusting actions. A number of these people are good-hearted individuals who wanted some sort of change. Maybe they voted for him because he was against the current political system that rendered many of his supporters voiceless or that fact that he wants to create more jobs for the working class of America. Russel Brand said it the best, “how disenchanted, how disillusioned, how disempowered can you be that this seems like a sensible alternative.”. They didn’t wake up thinking, “hey, let’s vote for him because he hates immigrants”, they woke up wanting change.
Let’s Play Your Game
“You voted for Hillary Clinton, you’re for the corporate machine”
Oh wait, maybe you’re for her pro-women stance, or her progressive platform she adopted later on in her campaign. The fact is you’re actually against her tight connections with Wall Street, yet you’re supporting her because believe she can make a difference. You are with her, you may not agree with her entire platform, but you are still with her.
By creating false dilemmas, you are making your argument invalid by opening up a discussion with false pretenses. Realistically there are many reasons why an individual would vote for a certain candidate. Open up your perspective next time you get into a debate/discussion. There is a lot more going on than what you see at the surface.