The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

A bad choice

When you are on stage, you can find yourself being caught between a rock and a hard place. Don’t worry. There is a way out.

False dichotomies are a fallacy where someone confronts you with bad choices. The goal is to pin you down to say something unfavourable. While this rarely happens when you consult a doctor, it is fairly common at conferences. Do not feel cornered but remember that the world is not black and white.

How to handle false dichotomies

  1. Repeat the question and write down the (two) options.
    (e.g. Do you want to make citizens suffer by increasing taxes or the debt?)

  2. Identify the underlying argument and evidence.
    (e.g. Your ideas are harmful because you would either make people suffer by increasing taxes or the debt.)

  3. Highlight the false dilemma and mention the benefits you envisage.
    (e.g. Let’s not create a wrong impression. Our proposal is to invest in the economy, which will generate jobs and increase the GDP.)


Come up with false dichotomies for a wedding proposal, an NGO ad and a get-out-the-vote call for an election.

Learn the techniques. Boost your confidence. Make your point.
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Ben Wilhelm