Avoiding False Dichotomies


Today is Blog Action Day, where the blogging world (such as it is) unites to write about a single topic. I know, so conventional—but in this case, I don’t mind going with the flow.

The theme this year is Climate Change, so I thought I’d contribute something about travel and its impact on the world.

See, from time to time I get emails from people who think I’m a bad person for flying on airplanes. “You’re destroying the environment,” one of them said.

To each his own, but my response is that this is an overly-simplistic view. Personally I don’t own a car and take only public transit in my home city, but I don’t think that people who own cars are evil. I have been vegetarian for nearly three years, but I don’t have bad feelings towards people who eat chicken.

Instead, this kind of perspective is a false dichotomy: You fly a lot; therefore you must not care about the environment.

Dichotomy is a five-dollar word that means the division into two mutually exclusive, opposed, or contradictory groups. False dichotomies are used to divide people who would not necessarily be divided otherwise.

Politics is another area filled with unnecessary, mutually exclusive divisions. Have you ever heard an argument that begins like this:

“Whether you’re liberal or conservative…”

The problem is that most of us don’t decide everything we believe based on those two labels. What if you are like almost all of us—liberal on some issues and conservative on others? Dividing people into opposing camps based on very little information is a false dichotomy.

Back to Travel

For better or worse, air travel is here to stay, just like phones, the internet, and globalization in general. When I fly to Africa I usually travel with doctors and aid workers on the same plane. Are they destroying the environment? One time I flew out of Uganda with 75 Sudanese refugees bound for the U.S. and Germany. Should they have remained in refugee camps instead of flying to a safe country out of concern for their carbon footprint?

These examples may be extreme, but I hope it helps put it in perspective. When it comes to climate change and travel, I’d rather look at the whole picture, namely:

1) What are each of us doing to reduce our own impact on the planet?

2) How can groups of people (governments, businesses, scientists, etc.) make travel more sustainable?


I wish we could put issues like climate change in a box and say, “If no one ever got on a plane, the planet would be saved.” Personally, I’m pro-environment and pro-travel. I know that some may see this as trying to have it both ways, but I don’t see why that’s a bad thing. I like having cake and eating it. (What else do you do with cake?)

You don’t always have to choose between two extremes… and you certainly don’t have to let other people make the choices for you.

Perhaps you disagree. That’s OK, and I promise not to believe you are a bad person if you do.

What do you think about travel and climate change, or about avoiding false dichotomies?


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  • Mark McGuinness says:

    “The true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time.”

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Jonathan Frei says:

    False dichotomies seem to be a rhetorical device used to judge other people’s decisions. Avoiding these in writing can be difficult because a mutually exclusive statement can be such a powerful tool. However, real dichotomies are rare.

  • Stephanie PTY says:

    False dichotomies are rampant, and they drive me up the wall. I find that people who travel a lot do have a greater sensitivity for environmental issues. Maybe it’s because you’ve seen so many beautiful places that you don’t want ruined. Or maybe it’s because you’ve met so many diverse people and now how a more global perspective.

    I hear those same people make complaints about Al Gore’s travel. Not that I think Al Gore is some sort of Climate Change Messiah or anything, but it’s silly to criticize him for working so hard to get his message out around the world. No one can be 100% green all the time while still talking to millions of people and spreading ideas like that. That’s just a reality of life. But if everyone strived to be 85%, that would make a much bigger difference than a few individuals running at 100%.

  • Oleg Mokhov says:

    Hey Chris,

    The world isn’t black or white but full of grey shades. We’re humans, not robots that live in binary.

    We’re human, and living is damaging to ourselves and the world. Instead of falsely believing that we aren’t impacting the environment by not doing stuff (if you feel that, then the best way is to just kill yourself and stop existing ie. impacting the environment), we minimize impact with things that aren’t important to us (car, meat) and only do things that are (travel).

    Anything we do inevitably damages the environment, just like any other organism. The Earth is amazing at being resilient, so if we strive to MINIMIZE impact, rather than falsely believing we can eliminating it, then we prolong live on Earth while not compromising our enjoyment.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on environment and keep on traveling.

  • Rob Wilson says:

    Ummmm…if you bothered to investigate, there is no dichotomy with this. Climate change is a bogus deal. A hoax foisted on us by people like Gore who saw a huge opportunity to get rich by creating another “crisis”. If we want to get beyond dichotomies, how about thinking and investigating facts before leaping to unwarranted conclusions. Gore’s film that gave all this globull worming credibility was ruled by a British court to be misleading and contain outright lies.

    Kinda like the death of polar bears because of globull worming. A lie. Period.

    As with most “causes” and especially so with “crisis”, just follow the money. If there is big money involved and it is being funneled through a few orgs and people, then it is about the money, period.

    You go, Chris, and travel. Gives you a better understanding of the world and how it works. Burning fuel and carbon footprints are a bogus deal altogether. Live free and prosper.

  • Mike Papageorge says:

    Funny, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as, while surfing on the Patagonia website I noticed that *one* sweater that I want creates something like 50KG of carbon waste. That whole idea has been banging around in my head lately.

    To your point, I am not certain that we should have this one both ways (eat our cake). I think we do simply because the snowball is too big to stop and it seems to me like in your examples by balancing good work with pollution we could be arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as the saying goes.

    Anyways, when you are flying to Africa with doctors etc. you are all destroying the environment. It is possible that you may care about it and you are destroying it. No dichotomy there for sure.

  • Tawnia King says:

    I am a new reader of your blog and though I have enjoyed everything I have read so far, I really related to this one. I too am an environmentalist to a certain degree while I still participate in things that if you weighed them on their own, may seem hypocritical for sure. I still drive an SUV, however I live in a 14′ travel trailer that I am committed to living in for at least 1 year.

    I utilize solar panels, produce minimal trash and only use about 30 gallons of water a month. As I need to have a vehicle that can tow my little trailer when she needs to be moved (I am currently parked long term), I feel that the rest of my lifestyle more than compensates. Driving a hybrid does not neutralize living in a large home. Either way I don’t judge anyone and am always happy to hear about even the smallest of steps that people are taking. After all, we all started somewhere.

  • Haider says:

    Thank YOU, Chris!

    I can’t begin to explain how annoying I find false dichotomies to be!

    It’s the “either-or” mentality that prevents us from discovering a middle ground that embraces the benefits within each category.

    Whenever I hear about Earth Hour’s “Vote Earth” slogan, I usually think: “No, I’ll Vote Man, thank you very much..”

    The point is this: environmentalists have placed the environment as their focus, and so we should adjust our lives for its preservation and protection. I choose to place Mankind (more technically, individual human beings) as my focus, and the environment happens to be one of the factors that influence our lives.

    But if we truly wish to live happily, we cannot neglect our environment and should seek out measures that preserve it, without having to give up our lives and everything we enjoy as a peace offering for Mother Earth.

  • Adriel Brunson says:

    One of the wisest statements I’ve heard is “It all depends on how you look at it.”

    It’s easier to devolve into dichotomies rather than evolve into exploring all the perspectives regarding any circumstance. But the effort of exploring perspectives pays off with wisdom, tolerance, and possible solutions that might not have appeared otherwise.


  • Colin Wright says:

    I think you raise a very valid argument that each person’s individual contributions and attitude toward the environment is more important than, say, whether they fly or ride in a taxi (two things that would be occurring anyway, with or without that one person being involved).

    If you personally choose to take mass transit or walk, reduce the amount of paper products you use, consume less (whether through minimalism or consolidation) and eat less meat (which takes an alarmingly massive amount of resources to create when compared to other foods), you’ll have a lot bigger impact because it is sustainable for you. These are habits that won’t bring global trade to its knees or require enormous sacrifices, so you can continue to do them ad infinitum. Perfect!

  • Nathalie Arsenault says:

    Totally agree with most of what was said.

    What I would add is that false dichotomies, from what I can tell from my humble life experiences, are what create so much hatred, mistrust, misunderstanding and problems in this world. I haven’t thought about it this way until Chris mentioned it in his blog, but it simply boils down to looking at things either black or white when they are almost always grey. It is never as simple as good or bad, liberal or conservative, poor or rich, environmentally-friendly or environmentally-destructive…but more so a big mixture of all these things that makes life as complex and as beautiful as it is. Thanks Chris for reminding us of this, and what it comes down to, is to not judge others, as there are always things we don’t know. Do the best you can, accept criticism, and let’s keep on trucking !

  • Ian Anderson says:

    Yet again the focus is on the little guy. Does the little led on my TV really matter when cities the world over are full of high rise offices that leave their lights on 24/7? Manufacturing and business produce the most harmful emissions and yet the emphasis is on the little home dweller?

    Hybrid cars, thinly veiled propaganda as the development costs will never pay back the environment. Electric cars, ‘zero’ emissions…hello, where does this ‘clean’ electricity come from?

    People who travel, esp to places like Africa (well done Chris, lived in Uganda myself) make massive differences to other peoples perception on their return. Aid money would not flow if people did not travel to these places and tell their stories.

    Keep going to Africa Chris, in fact, if everyone went to Africa, the world would be a better place as we would all realise that we are barking mad. We already have too much and Africa plainly does not have enough.

  • ami | 40daystochange says:

    Interesting post Chris. I think people who criticize travelers based on their impact to the environment are taking a very narrow view of things. Do environmentally “virtuous” people never travel? What about the benefits of exposing your family to undeveloped areas – and generating your children’s passion for nature and protecting the environment? What about the diplomatic benefits of interacting with people around the world, influencing the global discussion about conservation and discussing or encouraging best practices about how best to protect the environment and the world? If we never interact with people in other cultures, we lose our chance to learn, to enhance our own wonder about the world – and to share our own amazing culture. Certainly, one can be mindful while traveling and minimize one’s environmental impact. But to eliminate travel altogether eliminates so many benefits, including potential environmental benefits.

  • E. Casey says:

    All men share the identical experience of being human. It is only in the details that we make divisions among ourselves. Blogging seems as good a place as any to search for understanding. Climate change should bring us closer to one another as we make personal choices derived of love for humanity and planet. I do my informed best to make loving choices in my corner of the world. What more is there?

  • Hermann Delorme says:

    In this life, there are three truths: your truth, my truth and The Truth which lies somewhere between most of all our truths. I am not one who beleives in desperate ”last stands” on opinions and am always willing to listen to Your truth, however different it may be from mine. Therefore ”Vive la différence”.

    Now in regard to the matter at hand, I love the environment and wish to keep it around for a very long time and make it better if possible. So I do everything that I can to protect it and that satisfies me. In fact the only business that I can mind is my own and I don’t get involved in dichotomies.

  • Vince says:

    I have to agree with you on this. For the most part people are in the middle on topics, they aren’t one or the other. It seems to me that the media like to put these spin on things so that they can make some money. Take for instance the last few presidential races. It was either Red or Blue. There was now ground for anything in between. It’s a sad fact to because this type of thinking doesn’t help build tolerance for people that hold opposing view points.


  • Foxie || (CarsxGirl) says:

    Can I be a mean and evil and awful person and say that this whole environment thing is getting a bit on my nerves? Global warming is a natural phenomenon, albeit probably sped up by our by-products. But it’s natural in itself, and you can’t much change the course of nature. (If it wasn’t, we’d still be in an ice age.)

    One false dichotomy I run into quite often is American vs. Import cars. So many people believe that you can only like one or the other, sometimes going as far as to claim citizen superiority if they buy American. (Which is made in Mexico or assembled in Canada, btw.) Funny how “imports” such as Toyotas are mostly assembled in the states now, and they employ more people than the big three did too. Anyhow, I can appreciate all sorts of cars, it just depends on it’s purpose and the person who has it. Besides, most of the American cars that I really like end up as imports themselves — to Europe, never to be seen in the states.

  • Kelly says:

    As a person who works on these so-called “destructive” airplanes, I have had an internal struggle about this very topic. Yes, I think we are slowly killing our planet and need to take measure to prevent that. Yes, we need to become less dependent on oil. And yet, I think travel may be one of the most important things we can do. If we don’t get out and see the world around us, meet people who are different from us and understand how amazing this planet is then we won’t care if we destroy it. Isolating ourselves from the world in the name of the environment will ultimately cause more harm. We need the connection that travel provides to realize that we are part of something greater than ourselves.

  • Tyler says:

    I think what’s just as important as avoiding false dichotomies is understanding your own role in change.

    I’m all about activism and using your energy to change the world or right a wrong, but my approach to environmentalism has shifted dramatically since I started blogging from what could certainly be considered a false dichotomy to a live and let live perspective.

    The influence that I can offer the world is through example. I’ve never found much success trying to tell someone I didn’t believe in what they were doing, but I have made some large strides when I spend my efforts trying to attract like-minded people to lead by example with me.

    Personally, my actions always speak louder than my words and when you scale that up to a lot of people acting rather than shouting, well, the difference is enormous.

    Changing someone else starts with changing yourself.

  • Tracy Thomas says:

    I’m reading a book right now called “The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking.” The book is exactly along the lines of your post – rather than seeing the world as a dichotomy, consider instead creating an option combining aspects of both sides of an issue. Considering both sides of an issue and creating an integrated solution is a trait that’s becoming far too rare in society – it’s much easier to just stake a position at one end or the other than to think through it.

  • Andi says:

    Loved this post! Some of the comments that followed were a bit… odd, but to each their own. 🙂

    Just by simply living we are impacting the environment, so I think it’s important to try your best to make the least amount of impact. Which it seems you are definitely doing! I was living in NYC for many years and had no need for a car, now that I’m back in North Carolina, I need one, so I bought a hybrid. Like yourself, I’m a veggie (been one for 10 years). I think becoming a veggie is probably the best way you can help the environment period. I refuse to feel guilty about traveling constantly, because I do so many other things to help the environment.

    Keep traveling mate! In a way your blogging helps the environment, as people don’t need to travel as much after living vicariously through your stories. 😉

  • Rasheed Hooda says:

    Climate change has been in effect since before the earth came to be what it is today, and it is the climate change that was instrumental in the evolution of species over the eons.

    As fas as global warming is concerned… Am I the only one old enough to remember the “coming of the ice age” scare just a few short decades ago? I am talking the early 1970’s here. Climate changes don’t do 180 that fast, and if they do, we have nothing to worry about. The next ice age is only a few decades away before the next global warming crisis.

    Mother Nature is much stronger and much more capable of taking care of any curve ball we humans can throw. One hurricane, one tsunami, one volcanic eruption or one earthquake can out do in a very short period of time what humans can do over a period of decades or centuries.

    So let’s just be good stewards of the gift we’ve been bestowed the best that we can, while using the intellect, the greatest gift we’ve been given.


  • Julie says:

    Dichotomies are for people who wish to remain children – having the world presented to them in an either-or context so they don’t have to think too hard. Suzie, would you like to wear the blue dress or the green dress today? Chris, would you like to see the world or save the planet? Seeing the world helps up to appreciate the world and motivate us to make the changes in our daily lives that make so much more difference long term than whether or not we are on that airplane. You, in turn, share your experiences with so many of us, and because of it I don’t feel like I have to go globetrotting on my own to have an open mind.

  • Al says:

    I avoid this dichotomy, as you do, by considering the individual point of view. If you consider that you have a carbon allowance and choose to spend it as you will.

    How do you spend yours? On a car? Or Plane trips? Air con?…

    Why planes get all the attention I do not know – much more CO2 and damage is produced by cruise ships…


  • Erin Prais-Hintz says:

    “You don’t always have to choose between two extremes… and you certainly don’t have to let other people make the choices for you. ”
    That says it all right there.

    If we would just try to understand each other, rather than judging one another, we might be able to solve some bigger issues. By understanding I don’t mean that we can’t disagree, but we need to come to consensus or compromise. I don’t think that you are evil for traveling…I think you are brilliant! And I am most impressed by your commitments to saving the patch of earth that you are standing on at that moment, whether here or there.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post!
    Enjoy the day.

  • Aline says:

    Good food for thought. My take on flying and the environment is the same as any activity and the environment – no matter what I do, it will affect the environment to some extent. When I take a walk, I’m wearing down my shoes that much more, closing in on the day when they will inevitably occupy a landfill (although I think Nike has a program that recycles the treads on sports shoe; yet the act of recycling creates impact). We’ve created an environment in which it’s difficult to have no impact. We each have to figure out what feels right to us and make tradeoffs. Some choose not to have children, or fewer children. Some go vegetarian. Some try to recycle every scrap that enters the home. Each of us has to do what seems right — as long as we don’t impose our judgment on others.

  • Martin Lindeskog says:

    The question we have to ask is: Do we have the right to change our surroundings, i.e., environment? I care about this part of the environment and therefore I see no problem with traveling from A to B. I want to return to the land of opportunity again and visit the United States of America.

  • Alexander Rinehart says:

    In healthcare we’ve had the debate for quite some time now between health promotion and health recovery. Our health system has been too far on one side of the dichotomy and because of that we have the current mess. We all want to draw boxes around ourselves and say we each are right and pool funds and membership to spread our influence. We need a more dynamic way of viewing things that incorporates understanding that both sides can be right at the same time, depending on the question asked.

    For instance vaccination has risks for the individual for the sake of the greater public health. Ask a public health enthusiast and of course everyone is going say we need the vaccine, ask someone looking to optimize individual health and they will likely have reservations. Both are right, when will the research models and bureaucracy reflect this…probably never. Humans are tribe formers, sometimes we just need to draw a bigger box though and become part of a bigger tribe.

  • David Wynn says:

    Great post Chris. While somewhat tangential, I can’t get the relationship between false dichotomies and false equivalencies out of my head. I fear that the use of both is growing, for ease of both production and consumption, but to no one’s real benefit. :-/

  • David Stern says:

    I have done quite a lot of travelling by some people’s standards. I’ve flown round the world several times and lived in four countries. I try not to go on flights unnecessarily. I don’t think I have ever taken a flight anywhere just “to have fun”/vacation. Either I am visiting someone and/or doing some other activity like going to a conference, job interview etc. This saves time and money too. So I think it is a matter of balance.

    What does annoy me is environmentally oriented groups holding conferences in locations which don’t minimize the travel costs for participants. For example, the Australia-New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics is holding its biennial conference in Darwin, NT this month. This place is remote and out of the way compared to where most members live in southern and eastern Australia and New Zealand. To minimize travel costs the meeting should be held in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, or maybe Brisbane or somewhere near those locations. Despite that I’m going

  • David Stern says:

    PS – As I was saying I’m going to the meeting and will take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Northern Territory which I’ve never been to before.

  • Gordie Rogers says:

    We won’t destroy Earth. She’ll destroy us first and be better off for it. 😉

  • Annabel Candy says:

    Thanks for letting me know about blog action day.

    It’s ridiculous that people should not fly because of the environmental effects. I think we all need to make an effort to do what we can to protect our planet by recycling, being vegetarian, using public transport or just walking. It sounds as if you are doing your bit and I think if everyone does contribute in some way then environmental disaster can be avoided.

    The real problems will come if not enough people make a positive contribution. Then maybe the time will come when we can no longer enjoy the advantages of modern life that we’ve become accustomed to and are forced to live a simpler life without modern modes of travel and a wide variety of food because we have used up all the earth’s resources and created an hostile environment that cannot be sustained.

    So let’s agree to eat veggie, carpool or bike to work once a week. If many people make a small difference in their lives the world will be a better, safer, greener place.

  • Ian Blakeslee says:

    Travel is required to save the environment! If you don’t know there is anything out there worth saving, why would you act?

    When I hear people say things that seem rediculous to me (like you are a bad person for flying, for example), I think about the idea of multiple inteligences. Some people are smart in some areas but not in others.

    Unfortunately we sometimes only see the un-inteligent side.

    P.S. I love cake!

  • Popoki says:

    Interesting post. As others have pointed out, there is no way to avoid impact for the simple reason of existence. The concern is whether that impact fits the ecological system which nature laid out, as far as that system can be observed by scientists. Industrialization cannot be argued as part of that system from an objective standpoint; however, the system could accommodate it–up to a certain point–because the net impact for a very long time was low. Now it is not longer low, with the industrialization, the very rapid industrialization, of larger populations. My feeling is that “net impact” is a very convenient term for saying one population can enjoy the benefits of industrialization at the expense of another population that remains without those benefits. However, travel often brings the people behind phrases like “net impact” to the rightful attention of those who have the power to change the situation. And so, Chris, keep traveling!

  • AndrewD says:

    One view of what you are doing might be that you are travelling and sharing a global perspective on the world so that many others do not have to. The net result of this could arguably be less plane travel rather than more.

  • Jud says:

    Absolutely Chris. After so many years of living the way we have in industrialised society it is clear there is no overnight fix. I think it is important that we each begin making progress on what we can influence. As a keen traveller it would be a big step for you to deny yourself of the convenience of air travel. Becoming vegetarian on the other hand is a great step in the right direction and has a massive positive impact.

    I think that by choosing to publish your plans to travel to every country in the world you actually have a great chance to highlight impacts of climate change that those who do not travel may not be aware of. In addition to this, the chance to report on steps taken to address climate change across the globe could provide inspiration to those who are happy travelling nowhere and reading your blog from the safety of their own home, or workplace or both!

    Keep up the good work.

  • Eve says:

    Hey Chris. Great post, as always. As another traveler and environmentalist, this is something that I, too, struggle with. However, I do feel that there is one thing missing from your argument, and that’s prioritization. The truth is that when we travel by plane knowing how bad it is for the environment, we are making a choice. It’s not that we don’t care about the planet, it’s just that we’re choosing momentarily to put traveling ahead of environmentalism. And that’s okay, so long as it’s a choice that we make knowingly. As vegetarians, you and I know that the cows will still be slaughtered (and the methane still released) regardless of our choices, but we hope that our collective action will eventually reduce meat production and consumption. The same is true with flying. It is not a sin to fly, and every time I do I am choosing to see this beautiful world we live in, but I do so knowing that my actions also contribute to its destruction.

    Thanks for starting the discussion!

  • Kim says:

    I travel for work. I posed this question on a travel forum that I frequent – “how can you make traveling more eco friendly”. Needless to say I was slammed for all the travel I was doing – If I wanted to be eco friendly I’d stop traveling so much. I thought about it and realised that some-one had to do my job it may as well be me. If I left, they would just replace me. So I could make a difference by taking my own toiletries and not adding to the plastic waste by having the hotel supplied toiletries replaced every day. I could request that my sheets and towels are not changed daily. I could try an minimise my use of packaged food and drinks (esp bottled water). I could increase the temp of the a/c in my room by a degree / 2. In this way I was going to be eco friendly and still enjoy travel.

  • Nicolai says:

    People sometimes criticize to make themselves feel better. Often they’re just trying to convince themselves they’re not guilty of what they’re accusing (when they are) to avoid shame.

  • Jason of Kim & Jason says:

    Chris, I find that the more I travel, the more dichotomies I come across — at least when it comes to “traditional” thinking. As hard as we try, people don’t fit into little nice boxes, especially the ones the media portrays. You’re right in that the majority of people are a mix of “liberal” and “conservative” beliefs, which I think makes humanity much more interesting.

    I think that what many people fail to realize is that most people want the best for their family/community/country…but they sometimes disagree about the best way to go about it. Instead of acknowledging the common mission, I guess it’s easier to pick out the differences.

    I am one who considers “climate change” to be largely political propaganda (particularly the man made aspects of it)–HOWEVER–I strongly believe in keeping the environment clean and choosing sustainable options over non-sustainable ones whenever possible. It just seems like common sense to me, but perhaps I’m just a living, breathing dichotomy:)

  • Peter says:

    I agree that people cannot be put into boxes according to their opinion on one topic. As far as climate change or ‘saving the planet’ goes – what arrogance. All species have their time and then become extinct. It may be extinction time for humans in the next few centuries. Whatever we do or avoid, we cannot change that. The one thing that is certain is that ‘the planet’ will still be here after all humans have disappeared, just as it existed for billions of years before there were humans. The best we can do in our lifetime is to love each other and be good to the bit of the world we live in.

  • Tim says:

    Choices are relative. You make the best you can from options available. Is there a greener form of rapid international travel? Is so, you would probably take it. Or do your critics suggest that the responsible approach is to stay home?

  • George says:

    I found the post provocative in a different way than was intended: it caused me to examine some of my own hypocrisies. For example, while I choose to live in a small, urban high-rise condo because I believe large, single family dwellings are wasteful and environmentally unsustainable, my kitchen is filled with appliances I purchased primarily for their aesthetic value rather than their energy efficiency. I could have chosen ugly, electricity sipping appliances that would work almost as well as my “designer” branded gear; Chris could choose to travel only on airlines with new aircraft sporting the most fuel efficient engines and still hop continents with ease. We humans are shockingly adept at justifying our non-enlightened behavior, even when the “tougher” choices would have a negligible impact on our lives.

  • Benny the Irish polyglot says:

    Thanks a lot for this post Chris!! I travel a lot and get posed the “your killing the world” argument too. As a fellow vegetarian I can say that we are naturally more environmentally friendly already on that front, but as you say, it’s pointless to argue with people as if the world is black and white.
    I’ll be referring to this post next time I get forced into that corner again! Thanks 🙂

  • emily-sarah says:

    True. It’s baffling how people so closely align themselves with a label (political parties are a huge example, as you mentioned). How can any person fit neatly and completely in any one box? Why would you want to? In doing so, don’t you become far beyond “conformed” to nothing more than a little robot that’s flipped the brain’s off switch? Humans are by nature complex, contradictory creatures. Issues are complex too. And as you and others have indicated, balance is key (and so is thinking!).

  • Jenna/The Word Cellar says:

    Sometimes I wonder if *all* dichotomies are false. Or is that oversimplifying the matter? I’ll have to give that one some more thought.

  • Peter Shallard says:

    It seems, despite “the truth” being uncomfortable, that personal flying isn’t going to solve the climate problem.

    It’s our intelligence, ability to communicate (and occasionally do it face to face… even across vast distances) that will get us out of this climate pickle. If anything does.

  • Pascal says:

    I really like that post. Make me think about that famous quote by G.W. Bush “Are you with us or against us”. This kind of false dichotomies force people to take extreme position even if they don’t agree, it tears apart the world and people in a useless way….

    I’m sure most of you face false dichotomies like that in everyday life. The more there is differences, the more it is reccuring.

    I remember one day I was in a relation with a person who has strong religious beleives and she was often forcing false dichotomies like “If you like to take beer; then you must be evil and an alcoholist”. No matters the context and without any rational, you’re painted either black or white. Of course, that relation never survived more than couple of weeks…

    The world isn’t black neither white….

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