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Illicit Observation / False Dilemma / False Either-Or / Polarization


False Dilemma 

False dilemma is one of the many smokescreens that are used to cover the fact that the reasoning is based on one of the three fallacies of Agrippa's trilemma. Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma. All human thought (without Divine revelation) is based on one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regress, circular reasoning, or axiomatic thinking. This problem is known as Agrippa's trilemma. Some have claimed that only logic and math can be known without Divine revelation; however, that is not true. There is no reason to trust either logic or math without Divine revelation. Science is also limited to the pragmatic because of the weakness on human reasoning, which is known as Agrippa's trilemma.

The False Dilemma occurs when two things are presented as being mutually exclusive or as negating each other; however, they can both coexist without conflict. The word, dilemma, indicates a decision between two equally undesirable choices or where a difficult choice must be made.

Especially in logic, "false dilemma" is a term that indicates one person trying to force another person to choose between two unfavorable alternatives, when either both could be true or there are other alternatives available. A dichotomy, on the other hand, is a division or contrast between two things that are, or are represented as being, opposed or entirely different.

All dilemmas are dichotomies. Dichotomies may or may not be dilemmas. Some sources lump false dilemma in with the following labels for false dichotomy fallacies: black-and-white thinking, bifurcation, denying a conjunct, the either-or fallacy, false dichotomy, fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses, the fallacy of false choice, the fallacy of the false alternative, and the fallacy of the excluded middle. None of these, however, are necessarily dilemmas. This means just means that you will do well to clarify terms if the word, "dilemma," is used. While these other terms would encompass dilemmas, all examples of these other terms are not necessarily dilemmas.

Examples of the Logical Fallacy of False Dilemma

Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: "Creation Model is based on the Old Testament. So when you bring in, I’m not a Theologian, when you bring in the New Testament, isn’t that a little out of the box?"

The reason this is a false dilemma is that Bill is trying to force a decision between the New and the Old Testaments, which is an untenable choice. This was probably said in ignorance, but the New Testament is a continuation of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament is a necessary foundation for the New Testament. There is no dilemma here.

Bill Nye, arguing against Creation Science: "I’m looking for explanations of the creation of the world as we know it based on what I’m going to call science. Not historical science. Not observational science. Science. Things that each of us can do akin to what we do, we’re trying to out-guess the characters on murder mystery shows, on crime scene investigation especially. . . . we’re supposed to take your word for it—this Book, written centuries ago, translated into American English is somehow more important that what I can see with my own eyes, is an extraordinary claim."

The dilemma that Bill proposes is between science and Scripture. There are many fallacies in these statements. We will concentrate on those that are related to the fallacy of false dilemma. Using the mechanism of a definist fallacy, Bill defines "science" as necessarily including his own assumptions and stories. These assumptions and stories are exclusive of the Bible. Then, at the end of the statement, Bill equivocates on the meaning of the word, "science," changing it to mean what can be observed. Of course, He would claim that science includes all of those things all the time, so what Bill is saying is that his stories and assumptions are as valid as observations. The equivocation and definist fallacies are part of what make this a false dilemma rather than a true dilemma. In any case, there is no conflict between Scripture and anything that can be observed using scientific method. There is no dilemma.


Last updated: Sep, 2014
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Toons & Vids



Correlative Based Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Denying the Correlative Conjunction / Denying the Correlative

Logical Fallacy of Suppressing the Correlative / Suppressing the Correlative Conjunction

Illicit Observation / False Dilemma / False Either-Or / Polarization

Logical Fallacy of False Either-Or / Black-and-White Fallacy / Excluded Middle / False Dilemma / False Dichotomy / Fallacy of False Choice / Fallacy of False Alternatives / The Fallacy of Exhaustive Hypothesis / Bifurcation

Logical Fallacy of the False Excluded Middle / No Middle Ground / Polarization Fallacy

All-Or-Nothing Mistake

Logical Fallacy of Limited Alternatives Fallacy / Fallacy of Exhaustive Hypothesis

Exclusivity Fallacy

False Trilemma Fallacy

Fallacy of Short Term versus Long Term

Logical Fallacy of Magician's Choice / Closer's Choice / Fallacy of False Alternatives / Fallacy of False Choice / The Fallacy of Exhaustive Hypothesis / Alternative Advance / Lose-Lose Situation

What Else Could Explain it? / TINA / There Is No Alternative Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Alternative Advance / Lose-Lose Situation

Morton's Fork Fallacy

Hobson's Choice Fallacy

Barefoot Fallacy

Wicked Alternative Fallacy



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Circular Reasoning-Who is Guilty?

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God's Process

God's Pattern

Mind Designed to Relate to God

Answers for the Confused

Fossil Record Says: "Creation"

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Twisting Science


Public School Failures

Twisting History

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