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ID: Two people stand facing each other. The person on the right has their back to the viewer. In one hand they present two pills to the other person, one black one white. The other hand is behind their back holding many colourful pills. The text above the image reads: MISINFORMER TACTIC: FALSE//DICHOTOMY. The image references a scene from the film The Matrix with the character Morpheus.

“You’re either with us, or you’re against us.”
“You either love freedom or you wear a mask.”

People who spread misinformation will often present only two choices. In reality, there are many shades of grey. Forcing people to pick from only two when there are many alternatives is the logical fallacy of false dichotomies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been filled with false dichotomies. Take the health vs. economy debate. Misinformers present these as two opposing stances, but this is not true. Economic experts and public health officials agree that strategies that reduce the spread of the virus improve the health of people and the health of the economy.

False dichotomies are often used to shut down, polarize and oversimplify debates. The next time you are presented with only two choices, ask yourself if you are getting the full picture.

Thanks to Jordan Collver for collaborating with us on this post. Jordan is an illustrator and science communicator specializing in using the visual and narrative power of comics to explore themes of science, nature, and belief.

We’re working on a series of misinformer tactics with Jordan so stay tuned for more.

Check out his work on his website and on Twitter.

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