Woah, I must not have been paying attention. I never really noticed before how often people resort to a false dilemma to try and prove their point. This is especially prevalent in this presidential election year, everyone is choosing up sides and if you are not wholly with us you must be against us. I have been paying particular attention to people's rhetoric and reasoning for a couple years now having read up on the more common logical fallacies and having read most of Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking. And while it is true that personal attacks and made-up statistics constitute 65% of all of these flawed arguments out there, it appears that creating a false dichotomy is gaining steam.

These false dichotomies are easily found in the suprisingly prevalent and terrible argument which states, if you question or denigrate the government at such a crucial time then you are a traitor. However, it is no limited to this arena. I have noticed that often if you even call up for debate a person's conclusion immediately the response turns to, you must be one of THEM! While I understand that when the fruits of your brain sweat are questioned it is easy to get defensive but if you are really interested in convincing the person of the validity of your viewpoint calling them a communist isn't going to get it done.

This came to mind when I was reading through Declan McCullah's article John Kerry's real tech agenda where Declan calls into question some of Kerry's voting record when it comes to tecnology. I glanced at the bottom of the page and noticed the comments section, which was full of venom toward Declan and his article. There was not much in the way of correcting him on any errors in his reporting, but the false dichotomy, that if you question anything John Kerry every did you must be a George Bush supporter, is so omnipresent that the commenters immediately broke it down into an opportunity to call each other right wing nut jobs and liberal wieners. It occurs to me that the point of the article is not to support Bush vs. Kerry rather it is to state that electing Kerry is not some panacea for all the political wrangling in the technology sector.

I guess the trend in popular culture is to separate winners from losers, and there is only one winner. We learn that from all types of popular entertainment, be it reality television, the National Footbal League or Highlander. However, I think the zero sum games that we are bombarded with constantly are poor representatives of our lives. Rarely do we have clear cut winners and losers in our every day dealings. So maybe spending a little introspective thought, before responding to what you perceive to be an attack on your ideology, is warranted. Anyway the point here is fight nice kids.

AuthorKevin McAllister