“Meet the deadline or you fail”

​It’s 3am. His words are bouncing around in my head. “Get it to me at the end of the month or you fail.” 

I ignore him. Tomorrow is the last day of the month. I’m going to miss the deadline. I suppose I should be completing the essay, but my character will level up when I complete this level.

​I game on.

In The Philosopher’s Toolkit, Julian Baggini describes what a false dichotomy is:

“A dichotomy is a distinction between two either/or options. A false dichotomy occurs when we are presented with such a distinction, but the either/or choice does not accurately represent the range of options available.”

My teacher used to say, “meet the deadline or you fail.” In most cases, that’s true. In this one, it wasn’t. I knew I could get an extension. I identified the false dichotomy.

Here are some more false dichotomies that people try to trick you with.

– You can have a soul-destroying, nine to five, corporate job. Or you can be an internet entrepreneur. 

– What I say is true. Everything else is false.

– Get a masters/PhD and never have to worry about job security. Or don’t bother with higher education and live payslip to payslip for the rest of your life.

– The reverse too. Put yourself into hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt getting an education, but still be vulnerable in the job market. Or become an autodidact and build your own unique, original, fulfilling career.

– You can have a passion job, something you love doing but which barely allows you to survive. Or you can have a profit job, something you hate doing that pays well.

– This is good. That is bad.

There’s an infinite number of false dichotomies. Some are easy to identify and see through. Others aren’t. But I think the following is a good heuristic to keep in mind:​

There are never just two options.