Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Use of False Dichotomy Weakens Your Argument

Listening to a discussion on knife crime a caller to the radio station stated that poverty was a factor in and around the incidence of knife crime. The radio presenter jumped straight in with: "So everyone in poverty is involved in knife crime?"

This use of false dichotomy by media presenters is annoying. This disingenuous line of argument is prevalent amongst shock-jocks with a reactionary right-wing agenda to promote. It is employed to skew a debate in an attempt to invalidate an opponent's case.

In this instance, the guest speaker made it clear that his thesis did not mean that all people living in poverty were disposed to knife crime; but instead that research had found that poverty was a factor in this area of criminality.

The use of false dichotomy is lazy journalism. Rather than countering another’s views with well-structured argument some journalists and commentators resort to this construct demonstrating a bankruptcy of balanced opinions.     

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