So my last post wasn't really about dichotomy. It was about mathematicians and the choices that crop up because they have artificially chosen to exclude the middle ground in their thinking. Despite what people may think, math is only a small part of logic; a mere subset.
In formal logic, there is a logical fallacy known as the False Dichotomy. People often try to assert in their thinking that once a dilemma has appeared then it can be solved with either A or B. It was caused by option one or option two. Things can occasionally be pigeon holed with either-or's, especially in math, but real life is not simple.
When does a person become bald? Do you have to pull out one hair? Ten? Ten thousand?
Of course, the problem lies in different people's interpretations of the word bald. It's not a precise concept. Very little in our day to day lives is a precise concept, yet we run our lives as though most everything is
black versus white,
good versus evil,
republicans versus democrat,
or even alive versus not alive. (Something that should be as dichotomous as it gets!)
As I said before, it makes things simple and tidy, but in reality, it serves only to complicate things further.
Life is a continuum. Everything is a shade of gray. If people want to consider themselves as being a member of a sophisticated species, they really need to learn to accept this. Actually, we all need to learn to accept this.
Because mathematicians have bifurcated their logic, some incredibly sophisticated issues have crept into the foundations of mathematics forcing them to be careful about the way they work their own special brand of magic. The same thing is happening to people every day, only their world isn't even based on an excluded middle.
Take the discussion Charles and I had about the financial crisis. The end of that didn't get blogged about here, but in short, my premise was that it was primarily caused from deregulation. I have since learned that some of it was also due to new securities that were completely unregulated (a not too distant issue). In an effort to simplify the view, I lumped in a whole lot. Deregulation and lack of regulations which covers a whole lot of bipartisan territory. The video Charles offered into evidence tried to make the issue a republican versus democrat issue. The video cherry picked information from the late 70's, somehow managed to skip all of the 80's and early 90's, exploded with more cherry pickings in the mid to late 90's, and cleverly tied it all together to make it look like Obama was Satan's little nephew by marriage.
Can people seriously believe that the current financial crisis is solely due to democrats? Or even republicans for that matter. Are people that limited in their world view? (I'm not meaning to pick on Charles here. I'm directing that to the fool that made the video. The premise of which was that the predatory lending was regulated. An assertion for which he appears to present a great deal of data, but he never actually links it together properly to be able to draw said conclusion.)
Is it really so hard to believe that the crisis is due to unchecked greed that we have to blame one side of the political aisle to make ourselves feel better? Do people really need things to be so black and white for their lives to go on?
Of course, the False Dichotomy doesn't appear in just the economic/political realm. Take your pick on any issue and you'll find it. Rather than trying to embrace some sort of middle ground, where most of us lie, extremists force the issues to remain black and white, thus keeping the issue alive.
I understand some issues will never die. Some issues are so evenly distributed, they will always be issues. Kim and I have talked at length about abortion and this is one of those issues. I challenge anyone to find accurate statistics on the U.S. population's opinion on this issue. Most polls have percentages of pro-lifers in the mid to upper 40's and pro-choicers in the low to mid 40's with the rest in the "pro-choice but we need more restrictions category". (Though I am fundamentally a pro-lifer, I have thought quite a bit on the issue in terms of what I am willing to accept. I have drawn my lines in the sand, as arbitrary as they are, and I guess this puts me in the third category.)
I have seen other polls broken down into more restrictive categories and this really only serves to makes things more confusing. If you check out polls with five or more categories, you really begin to see that this issue is a weighted normal curve. (Weighted a bit heavier on the pro-life end where there are a higher percentage of people who oppose abortion under all circumstances versus a small percentage that want abortions under all circumstances. This makes sense because the gray in this issue comes from under what circumstances should we allow abortion.)
The middle ground on this issue is far too complex and unlike the former issue which is all about money, this one is about life and death. When push comes to shove, at the end of the day, I am sure we'll all be able to agree that the greedy people on Wallstreet, regardless of their political affiliation, need to be reigned in.
Who needs to be reigned in on an issue regarding life and death? The death bringers? If that is always the case we need to reign in the republicans who keep pushing for these middle eastern wars. When Kim and I were watching the VP debate Palin made a comment about how we need to win these wars. As opposed to what? The unspoken dichotomy of losing these wars? How about we don't start these wars? Wait, was this war a republican versus democrat issue?