The Fallacy of Binary Thinking
No more dualisms.
I don’t believe in disclaimers. However, there are a lot of things I don’t believe in but do anyway, so I will preface this article by saying that I won’t be discussing anything about non-binary identifying people.
I am writing about dualistic thinking, not gender fluidity.
However, it does begin with a presupposition.
The idea of binary is being used in a society that lacks the intellectual capacity to comprehend its meaning and limitations.
I am not just being cheeky.
The concept of binary is a math term, primarily introduced at the 9th - 10 grade level.
However, The literacy level of the majority of Americans read at or below a 6th-grade level. It is no wonder that we have a limited understanding of the word. Our math skills are far worse.
The reason why it's hard to understand the concept of binary is because we often confuse it with duality.
Duality is more of a philosophical word. It deals with opposite and contrasting forces.
As children, we become familiar with the idea because we look around the world and develop dualistic thinking. We see Light and Dark, good and evil, night and day. As we grow in maturity, we see more of a blend between the two. A perfect example would be sundown or sunrise. Unless you are in a David Lynch movie, there is a gradation between day and night.
I didn’t hear of the word binary until I started to take math. Binary is a mathematical term representing a system based on the number two. In comparison, the decimal system is based on and around the number ten. Consequently, you only have two choices. On and off. True or false. Yes or no.
The main difference is that there is no gradation in binary computation.
As we move more into a fascist society, binary thinking is becoming more and more widespread. With the growth of technology, our world has become more complex. Binary thinking is a means to maintain control.
Binary thinking leaves no room for duality. They can’t exist in the same room with each other.
If you are a fan of Beyonce, you either love her with your whole heart or you hate her. You have to think everything she does is amazing.
Nothing is wrong with that. My wife showed me an example of one of Beyonce's dance moves on a TikTok video. She showed me a move where she essentially moves her head back and forth with attitude in unison with her background dancers.
I didn’t get the magic. However, that’s a harmless example. I showed my wife a mix by DJ Jazzy Jeff (that’s right - the one on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). I thought it was mind-blowing, but she gave me the ‘that’s nice dear’ look!
It starts to get creepy when binary thinking morphs into words such as fundamentalism or tribalism.
When you criticize something about Christianity, you are a God Hating Atheist. When you disagree with something that your country does, you are admonished to get out of the fucking country. Binary thinking and fascism go hand in hand like apple pie and ice cream.
I am sure you have noticed it. There is no room to love or believe in a Supreme Being without complete devotion to the socially accepted practices of the religion.
At best, this type of thinking breeds fear and control. At worst, this thinking can lead to death threats. We have seen it - every time someone on social media brings out a new way of looking at our trusted mores or values, they have to go.
The question is how is that jump made? Why does it lead to fear? It seems like it would be a simple matter of just deciding to move on and let other people live their lives without having to make them conform to the limiting standards of others.
In the binary world, there are only two options. For you to suggest that there are more options than two, you have just created a paradigm shift. As they say, 'shift' happens.
The mind doesn’t like change. Change threatens the homeostatic nature of its existence. Any threat to the mind, the ego steps in to protect itself.
When Binary moves into the realm of thinking and point of view, it mixes in with fear. It mixes in with limitations.
Remember - in the binary world, there are only two ways of thinking.
Binary thinking lends itself very well to a conservative point of view. The word conservative comes from the verb ' to conserve'. When you conserve, you naturally restrict. You maintain the resources at your disposal.
You can tell when you are talking to someone who thinks this way. They often see things only in black and white. There are no nuances at all. You will feel forced into a box with your opinions. You will feel pressured to answer questions or make statements in the simplest way possible.
If you choose to engage, you will have to explain things that you would think are common sense.
You can also hear them defining you and become startled at their definitions.
A perfect example is how I have been called an atheist because of how I criticize the Christianity that is practiced here in America. I don’t consider myself an atheist. I do believe in the existence of a higher being. Whether he gets involved in our lives is another issue. But I digress.
In a world that is marching ever closer to the flames of fascist thinking and practices, degrees of thinking do not exist. Nuance is completely lost.
What a shame.
You can read more of Anthony's work here.