“Classical music is dead! No, classical music is in great shape! You know what? I don’t want to play for either team in this game.”

Black & White
Black & White

The title of this post is from a Facebook status on Anne Midgette’s wall (or timeline, or whatever FB is calling it these days). I responded with “Since it’s not a black an[d] white issue, you don’t have to play for either team. There’s always the middle ground grey area!”

False Dichotomy, Binary Fallacy, Black/White Fallacy, Bifurcation Fallacy, False Dilemma, Either/Or Fallacy–whichever of its many names we use it is one of the most pervasive biases in human reasoning. As you can see from my neat little graphic above, for any two options (that aren’t negations of each other) there are actually four outcomes. No matter how “opposite” they may seem to each other, you can only collapse to two outcomes if you have one option and its negation.

From the image it’s easy to see how the negation of both can simply be reached by having something that’s “red” which is neither white, nor black. The lower left corner is both white and black, which could be interpreted as grey, or as some logicians who deal with polyvalent logics interpret it, it could refer to the state of certain quantum mechanical properties such as the wave/particle duality or possibly Schroedinger’s Cat.

The state of Classical Music as a whole is somewhere in this grey area and only by highlighting some subset of it to create Straw Men parodies of the industry can you come to the conclusion that it’s perfectly healthy or rapidly approaching death.

I’ve dealt with this and other bias issues a couple of times in past blogpostsonce nearly three years ago–and don’t really want to re-visit it much here.  But sometimes I really do wish I’d followed through on my plans to go into Comparative Neurocognition when I took that break from music so many years ago…

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