False dilemma

informal fallacy involving falsely limited alternatives, when in fact there is at least one additional option

False dilemma, also called the either-or fallacy, us vs. them fallacy, black-or-white fallacy, false dichotomy, or the fallacy of false choice, is a mistake in logic that allows only two possibilities when more than two exist.

For example, there is "either-or fallacy" in saying that an apple must be green or red. The premise is that the apple is either one color or another; but this beginning is a mistake because some apples—not most—are other colors. In other words, most apples are red or green, but some are also yellow.

A "fallacy of false choice" may hide a deliberate attempt to eliminate agreement on an issue. Eldridge Cleaver used this tactic when he said: "You're either part of the solution or part of the problem."[1]

A false dilemma may also be used for comedic effect. Stephen Colbert used this tactic when he asked guests on The Colbert Report: "George Bush... great president or the greatest president?"

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  1. Shapiro, Fred R. (2006). The Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press. p. 158. ISBN 0-300-10798-6.

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