False Dilemma B Sec 13

False dilemma 1
Anh Dang, Stephanie Ungson, Tim Osterbuhr, Long Vo
Prof. McLeish
June 18 2013
False Dilemma
One of the most common rhetorical fallacies is the false dilemma. It occurs when only a
limited number of options, usually two, is offered while other possible outcomes are ignored.
The false dilemma is an illegitimate use of the "either-or" operator. Putting issues or opinions
into "black or white" terms is a common instance of this fallacy, which means that if the option
is not “black”, it must be “white”. This type of fallacy overlooks other viable alternatives of the
argument, which makes it appear biased, as it restricts the options to only either-or and avoids
possible counter arguments.
One false dilemma occurs in chapter 2 “The Years of Magical Thinking", in which
Jeffrey Gitomer, a motivational speaker and coach, states “Get rid of negative people in your life.
They waste your time and bring you down” (Ehrenreich 55). The dilemma in this scenario is that
eliminating negative people from your life, will bring you positive results. Keeping negative
people around, will lead to potentially more negative outcomes. Nevertheless, negative people do
not solely contribute to all negative things in your life, so eliminating them does not solve the
problem. Moreover, negative people's presence can be an outlet for stress. For example you
could paint a mental image of someone as a punching bag and fight him or her, which in return
would relieve stress. Negative people’s presence, in addition, can serve as a strong motivator. If
someone has a negative attitude towards you, solely due to the fact that he or she underestimates
your competence or wants to prevent you from achieving certain goals, that person give you the
False dilemma 2
motivation to prove him or her wrong. Besides, it is not easy to eliminate negative people from
your life. No matter where you go and what you do, there will always be negative people
surrounding you.
The second false dilemma is from chapter 4 “Motivating Business and the Businesses of
Motivation." Zig Ziglar, a frenetic Christian motivator, explains to a group of recently laid off
workers “It’s your own fault; don’t blame the system; don’t blame the boss ­– work harder and
pray more” (Ehrenreich 115). Ziglar poses a dilemma by describing that an employee is fired,
because he or she does not work hard enough. The false dilemma states that if you work hard
enough you get to keep your job and if you don’t work hard enough you will be fired. However,
working hard does not guarantee keeping one’s job, because there are many alternate factors
affecting the company’s decision to fire its employees, such as economic recessions, bankruptcy,
low order volume, etc. More importantly, “the system” is the crucial factor of controlling the
worker population, so saying “don’t blame the system” definitely overlooks the key factor
affecting the decision of firing or hiring employees (Ehrenreich 115). Thus, hard work is not
always the crucial factor in determining whether an employee can keep his or her job. In
addition, Ziglar suggests his employees pray more. What if the employees are not religious? Are
they forced to pray in order to gain their chances of success? Ziglar’s claim overlooks the fact
that not everybody prays. Thus, telling employees to pray more along with working harder to
keep their jobs only shrugs off the company’s responsibility and puts blame on the employees.
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