A dichotomy /daɪˈkɒtəmi/ is a partition of a whole (or a set) into two parts (subsets). In other words, this couple of parts must be
Such a partition is also frequently called a bipartition.
- 1. jointly exhaustive: everything must belong to one part or the other, and
- 2. mutually exclusive: nothing can belong simultaneously to both parts.
The two parts thus formed are complements. In logic, the partitions are opposites if there exists a proposition such that it holds over one and not the other.
Treating continuous variables or multicategorical variables as binary variables is called dichotomization.
One of the problems inherent in Twitter, and social media in general, is that it gives a virtual soapbox to people who react and respond to information without really thinking about the context or implications of that information. Tweeters assume that anyone who opposes A must therefore support B, because there can be no other alternatives to the A-B dichotomy.
One of the problems inherent in today's mainstream Media Industrial Complex is that our trusted information sources do the exact same shit and get rewarded handsomely for it. Think-tanks and political consultants leverage people's instinct to dichotomize: They propagate the message that, if you support A, then B is the opposite of everything you hold dear and thus your enemy. They traffic in fear, because fearful people buy stuff to make them feel better.
B is not your enemy. A is not your enemy. Dichotomistic thinking is your enemy.
Wikipedia does not have a separate entry for Dichotomization; just a reference to the concept in the entry for Discretization, which is a term from applied mathematics. It certainly does not have an entry for Dichotomism, but it is an actual word used in theology. I would like to add an entry for a secular connotation of the word to the Wiki pile, but I am not sufficiently expert on any particular topic to presume to be a Wikipedia contributor-author.
On more than a few occasions, I have used this blog to preach against the evils of binary thinking. Anyone can fall into the habit, including people who have demonstrated that they know better. Some very smart friends and acquaintances have overcome viewing gender in binary terms, the way most of us were taught from childhood, but cannot wrap their minds around supporting political parties outside the Duopoly. To them, my criticism of Democrats means I'm supporting Republicans; my vote for a Green candidate is really a vote for the Republican candidate because it steals votes from the Democrat.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Like Julian Assange, Hill is a high-profile victim of a virulent, pernicious form of dichotomization. (There are millions of lower-profile victims.) Assange publishes leaked emails that incriminate Hillary Clinton, so therefore he must be working for Donald Trump (and, by extension, Vladimir Putin), and liberals want him prosecuted for practicing journalism. Hill criticizes the policies of the Israeli government; therefore, he must want to abolish Israel and kill Jews (or at least let the Arabs do the killing), and thus is unwelcome on TV.
Ye gods, I wish there were some form of rehabilitation program for people addicted to seeing every issue in strictly binary terms. I see it as a mental health issue with profound societal impact. Lapsing into those binary thought patterns doesn't make you a bad person, but it does reveal a combination of (a) mass-media brainwashing and (b) inability to allow for gray areas and accept that issues frequently have more than two sides in this complex world.
When I saw all the reaction to Hill's treatment by the Corporate News Network, I almost undertook a multi-part Twitter rant that would have made me late for work. It would have gone something like this:
- Criticizing the actions of the US government is not the same as hating America.
- Criticizing the actions of the Saudi royal family is not the same as hating Arabs or Muslims.
- Criticizing the Democratic Party or its candidates does not make you a Republican, or vice versa.
- Saying you don't like Whataburger does not make you an In & Out Burger lover by default.
- One could add a few dozen more examples, but let's get to the main points here:
- WHY THE EVER-LOVIN' FUCK DOES CRITICIZING THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE ONE AN ANTI-SEMITE?!
- I oppose concentration camps and mass incarceration. Israel has turned the Gaza Strip into an example of both.
- Further, recognizing the human and civil rights of others does not decrease the rights enjoyed by the dominant class/race/religion/sex/gender identity.
- Granting and recognizing human and civil rights is not a zero-sum proposition.
- In fact, I would argue society as a whole benefits from equality of rights and opportunities.
- Free Free Palestine!</rant>