Month: July 2019

In for a Penny, in for a Pound and Other False Dichotomies

The term dichotomy goes back to the Greek dichotomía (διχοτομία) and means dividing in two. A false dichotomy is the suggestion that there are only two mutually exclusive alternatives to a question in dispute, although there are actually others or the two alternatives offered do not contradict or exclude each other at all. This rhetorical trick is popular with salespeople, for example in the form of the question of whether one would rather buy the blue or the white shirt, which deliberately omits the possibility of buying neither of them. And I also use the pattern occasionally to “facilitate” the choice of clothes for my daughters, which they of course mostly see through easily.