Winning Discussions: False Dilemma (Effective Pirating)

Winning Discussions: False Dilemma (Effective Pirating)

Logical fallacies are techniques that people use to make an argument appear convincing even when it is wrong. Learning how to identify and refute logical fallacies is one of the best ways to win in a discussion. Catching an opponent committing a fallacy will force him to retract his error or he will appear foolish or manipulative to his audience. There is a dark side to this. Once you learn to identify logical fallacies you will also be able to use them. Do not deliberately use them against fellow Pirates; it is extreme bad manners and you will most probably be caught out.

The Logical Fallacy – False Dilemma

This fallacy leads people into having to make a choice between two  or more options when others are available.

It is also known as

  • black-and-white thinking
  • bifurcation
  • denying a conjunct
  • the either-or fallacy
  • false dichotomy
  • the fallacy of false choice
  • the fallacy of the excluded middle

The analogy of black and white thinking is helpful in understanding how this fallacy is used. There can be shades of grey in between the two extremes of black and white. There can also be completely different colours in the spectrum of choice. But you are only presented with the black and white alternatives.


Those  who are not for us are against us. This ignores people who are neutral.

Have you stopped trolling the opposition candidate? This implies that you are currently trolling or previously trolled her. It ignores the possiblity that you never tro

We must impose blanket surveillance or terrorism will be widespread. This ignores the other ways to handle terrorists including dealing with the problems that produced the terrorists in the first place.


You can read more about the bandwagon  logical fallacy in a wikipedia post and logical fallacies in general in this wikipedia article.
Remember that just because someone commits a logical fallacy it does not mean their argument is necessarily incorrect. If you have the time and resources then use the principles of scepticism to test their reasoning objectively.

This article is a part of a series called Effective Pirating:

Winning Discussions: The Fallacy Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 09/01/15
Winning Discussions: The Gambler’s Fallacy (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: argumentum ad ignorantiam (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: Ad Hominem (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: Appeal to Fear (Effective Pirating) 21/10/14
Winning Discussions: Begging the Question (Effective Pirating) 17/8/14
Winning Discussions – The Bandwagon Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 11/8/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – Tu Quoque 24/7/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man 17/7/14
Effective Pirating: Choose your Opponents Carefully 7/7/14

Featured image: CC BY-Martin Fisch