The False Dichotomy
As many of my friends are aware I spend a great deal of my free time in various online chat-rooms. Recently I've found a certain phenomenon that is common in all the various chats I go into. The ubiquity of the false dichotomy. Apparently if I don't agree with the silly opinion of some zealot I must automatically believe in some equally or more silly opinion.
A few examples from some of these chats I've attended. If I don't believe in the singular god Jesus, then I must be a Devil worshiper. If I don't think the Ballerina of Willendorf is anything more than a stone-age Barbie-doll, I must be an evil "patriarchal" oppressor. If I don't believe in the idea of the ancient ubiquitous Goddess cult I must be a Christian.
Of course politics is no better. If I'm not an unquestioning "yes man" for President Bush I must love and long for a Clinton return. And, interestingly, if I think Hilary is a worthless senator and would be a worse president, I must be a vile republican neo-con.
Now as silly as these examples are, the entire idea is even worse. Who came up with this idea, is there a secret zealots-Я-us newsletters that goes out with the techniques du jour?
The best way for these zealots to win an argument seems to be twofold. First create one in their own mind if there isn't an actual one going on. Feel and act threatened, take everything as an insult. If someone else starts the argument then they're the victim and have the best shot at sympathy. Second define the sides. Its no longer if you vaguely in a way sort of agree with me, you're on my side for strength in number. Its now if you don't agree with every little minutiae of what I claim, then you're on the other side and this is what you think. Of course they can't assign us something reasonable so they create the false dichotomy, something absurd that appears to be in direct confrontation with the zealot's opinion, but is still something so far out there that any neutral but gullible party will have to laugh at you.
So either I'm Jake, or a Satanist-Penis-Worshiping-Christian-Socialist-Neo-Con. Something to ponder...
[originally posted on my MySpace blog]