Posted by Bob on October 31, 2001

In Reply to: Either/or posted by Ortin on October 31, 2001

: : : : Does anyone know a good phrase for the action of speaking in terms of alternatives that embody too much contrast? Too much in the way of extremes? A better phrase than "black and white with no shades of grey"?

: : : That kind of speech (and thought) is what I always think of as "polarizing." I don't know whether that would be meaningful to your intended audience, however. Another possibility is "no middle ground."

: : And then there's "either/or."

: Thank you, R. Yes, "no middle ground" is a good one, one I had stupidly forgotten.

: Anyone have others?

Not exactly a phrase, but I'm often peeved by people (hoping to be seen as open-minded) who automatically recite "there are two sides to every question." The problem is, they begin to accept this cliche as dogma. A few decades ago, I had the Lebanese civil war explained to me, in some detail, with the 28 distinct militias fighting, changing alliances, recombining, etc. It became clear to me that (in that instance, at least) there were at least 28 sides to that question. So, ever since, I'm given to saying "there are at least three sides to every question" as a way of reminding listeners (and myself) not to fall victim to the fallacy of zero-sum, bipolar, extremist, black and white thinking.