The writer explains and explores the false dilemma logical fallacy.
This particular fallacy is exceedingly common in mass media, so much so that you can find examples of it even in casual commentary here in the Forum. Perhaps you, too, have had experiences like the one this excerpt describes:
“In one of psychology’s most famous experiments, Solomon Asch showed that if you’re in a group and most of the group members claim the shorter [of two lines drawn on a piece of paper] is longer, you might just go along. In his book You Are Not So Smart, David McRaney reports, ‘In Asch’s experiments, 75 percent of the subjects caved in on at least one question [about the length of the lines]. They looked at the lines, knew the answer everyone else was agreeing to was wrong, and went with it anyway.’
“Perhaps even worse, those who changed their correct answers to conform with others ‘seemed oblivious to their own conformity. When the experimenter told them they had made an error, they came up with excuses as to why they made mistakes instead of blaming the others.'”