False Binary Straw Man Arguments

Forcing decisions to appear binary is a straw man argument.

What is a false binary decision? It is when only two choices are presented to you as if they are the only choices, when in reality there are many choices around and in between the ones presented.  It is also known as the “logical fallacy of the forgotten middle”.

What is a straw man argument? A straw man argument occurs when someone takes another person’s argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, and then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making.


Choice A) Everyone should be able to buy / own a gun or

Choice B) No one should be able to buy / own a gun: are not the only choices.  

We could, instead, work together to keep guns out of the hands of children without adult supervision/training, dangerous criminals or people with mental health conditions that make handling a gun dangerous.  We could work together to ensure that people are helped before they decide to take their own life with a firearm etc.  

Choice A) We should burn fossil fuels unregulated until man made climate change causes an existential threat for our future or 

Choice B) Ban all fossil fuels, causing the loss of all the jobs associated with them, increasing energy costs to unaffordable levels and we all die penniless in the streets: are not the only choices.  

Instead, we could work together to find ways to move relentlessly in a direction that balances the health of our environmental future and our economic well being in the short term.  My guess is that together we could do amazing things to lower greenhouse gas emissions quickly.

I am sure that we could all brainstorm the additional false binaries presented to us by our politicians to divide us.

Why does it matter?  Our politicians, in presenting these binary strawman arguments, instill such fear of the “other side” that we accomplish little or nothing on the big issues / opportunities in front of us.  We end up not utilizing the best ideas and leveraging the power of diversity in problem solving, because we are focused on extremes.

Instead, join me in demanding better from our politicians to consider middle path solutions to our biggest issues.  We can do great things!

Just my opinion.  What do you think?

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