Limiting the choices

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"You're either with us [the Bush administration] or you're for the terrorists" is a perfect example of limiting the choices. This technique is designed to make people think that those are the only options, when in reality they are not. In this example, the additional options are:

  • to be against both the Bush administration and the terrorists
  • to be for both the Bush administration and the terrorists
  • to be neither for nor against one or both parties

In fact, rather than just the two choices George W. Bush gave people, there are a total of nine choices, as shown in the table below:

Bush administration terrorists
† for against
† against for
against against
for for
neutral for
neutral against
neutral neutral
for neutral
against neutral

† Implied by Bush as the only choices

This is also known as the false dilemma, the either/or fallacy and the black-and-white fallacy.

Another common technique, an example of which can be found in U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union 2004 speech, is to pair the proponent's cause with an apparent opposite as if these two options were not only the only two options, but were also mutually exclusive, as if you could have only one or the other; when in fact you can have both, with or without anything in between.

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