Golden Mean Fallacy

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    If CNN did sports reporting, every game would be a tie.
    —Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks, in this clip.

    Most people know that there are two sides to every issue: their side, and the wrong side. Authors (and people in general) who subscribe to the Golden Mean Fallacy have another outlook. They believe that there are in fact three sides: the side of the complete morons to the left of them, the side of the complete morons to the right of them, and their own side, which combines the good points of each in sublime harmony while avoiding all the bad. If one position is argued to be superior solely because it is in the middle, then this is the logical fallacy of Argument to Moderation.

    The fallacy comes about by assuming that not only are extreme solutions never reasonable or correct, but the correct solution can always be found in the middle, e.g.: Bob wants to exterminate all the termites in the house. Alice doesn't want to exterminate them at all. Therefore, the correct course of action is to kill exactly half of the termites.

    The Golden Mean Fallacy is turning both sides of an argument into Strawman Politicals and declaring that the only sensible approach is to take the middle road. There is a number of benefits to this - you avoid offending either side too much since they can each take comfort in the fact that their enemies get just as ridiculed as them, you get to come off as a sensible person who thinks for oneself and doesn't blindly follow any one party line, and you get twice as many people to insult and make fun of.

    Another handy (and sneaky) thing with this method is that you don't actually have to be very moderate to use it. A Strawman Political is by definition hideously more extreme and unreasonable than any position in Real Life,[1] so there is nothing stopping you from presenting a horrific parody of one side of the issue, then presenting a horrific parody of the other side of the issue, and finally presenting your own actual opinions as a moderate option. It will look very sane and reasonable in comparison, even if in Real Life it would be considered quite extremist. In fact, you can take this one step further: present a horrific parody of your own opinions and the unmodified opinions of those who oppose you; now not only is your actual opinion the sane and reasonable compromise, but your political enemies are irrational extremists! Is it any wonder this fallacy is so popular in politics?

    The technique is known among American political strategists as the Overton Window.

    Note that this is different from the author just pointing out the flaws in both sides of an argument and never revealing where they themselves stand - this trope is when the author claims that there really is a path that is completely good, right, and perfect, simply because it's right smack in between the other two. And of course, sometimes an option somewhere in between two polar oppositions really is the better option; however, this doesn't mean that the middle option is always the best option, or that this better option will fall squarely in the exact middle without favouring one or the other of the opposites even slightly.

    Of course, one of the hazards of this trope is that you'll end up angering both sides of the debate, who might be more interested in complaining about what they wanted but didn't get, without even acknowledging anything that they might have gained. Alternatively, an attempt to compromise too closely might result in a watered-down solution which fails to satisfy anyone or accomplish anything; sometimes, tough decisions do have to be made for good or ill. Finally, one of the sides may actually be completely right after all, and thus taking the middle road is as wrong as the opposing viewpoint.

    Compare Stupid Neutral. Contrast with Take a Third Option and Both Sides Have a Point. Named for Aristotle's concept of virtue, which presented the golden mean as the excellent ideal of behavior. (Obviously, he didn't consider it a fallacy. Aristotle's golden mean also often did lean slightly towards excess or deficiency, rather than being precisely in the middle, and varied from situation to situation.)

    Examples of Golden Mean Fallacy include:

    Anime and Manga

    • Martian Successor Nadesico: When the crew of the Nadesico realized that they couldn't negotiate with the Earth forces, they tried to appeal to the Jovians, only to realize that they were just as single-minded. This led to their stealing the Artifact, which allowed Boson Jumping, thus preventing Jupiter and Earth from fighting any longer for the time being.

    Films -- Animated

    • Team America: World Police epitomizes this as far the Americans are concerned. Conservatives are "dicks" who are so aggressive that they cause as much harm as good, while liberals are "pussies" who are too wimpy to get anything done in the first place, but sometimes have to stop the "dicks" from going too far. Unlike South Park, which often has a character find the golden mean, the film contrasts both opposing viewpoints with "assholes" (like terrorists or the movie's Big Bad, Kim Jong-Il) who make the "dicks" necessary.


    • In Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter, the title character considers conservatives to be bigoted troglodytes who want to exterminate vampires for being different, and liberals to be air-headed idealists who think that vampires are harmless fluffy fanged bunnies and forget that they are dangerous and not entirely human. Since Anita is a complete Canon Sue, her views are entirely accurate.
    • Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. His strawman extremes are atheism and the Roman Catholic Church; his "middle ground" is still religious, rather than agnostic.
    • The Bavarian Illuminati however know that there must always be 5 sides.
    • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Isard's Revenge deals with this. The New Republic has made claims about an ex-Imperial warlord; the warlord has publicly made claims that are the exact opposite. Rogue Squadron, watching the news, note glumly that most people will probably assume the truth is in the middle somewhere.

    "It's called the gray fallacy. One person says white, another says black, and outside observers assume gray is the truth. The assumption of gray is sloppy, lazy thinking. The fact that one person is diametrically opposed to the truth does not then skew reality so the truth is no longer the truth."

    • Embodied by the Triple Demons of Compromise from The Phantom Tollbooth. One's tall and thin, one's short and fat, and the third is exactly like the other two. They are endlessly traveling in circles because the first says left, the second says right, and the third agrees with both of them. They always settle their differences by doing what none of them really want, leaving them in a permanently foul mood.
    • In G. K. Chesterton's Magic, the Duke is prone to such flights of fancy as donating to both sides of the issue.

    SMITH. [Turning eagerly to the_ DOCTOR.] But this is rather splendid. The Duke's given £50 to the new public-house.
    HASTINGS. The Duke is very liberal.''Collects papers.''
    DOCTOR. [Examining his cheque.] Very. But this is rather curious. He has also given £50 to the league for opposing the new public-house.

    • In The Dilbert Principle, the chapter "How to Get Your Way" suggests using the "Final Suggestion Maneuver" to get the last word in business meetings. The technique involves staying uninvolved throughout the entire meeting as conflicting suggestions are made, then chiming in at the last minute by disguising your suggestion as a composite of everyone else's. The theory behind this maneuver is that everyone will be so desperate to leave that they'll rush to accept your suggestion without questioning it.
    • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge initially presents herself as representing a reasonable middle ground between tradition and change. Of course, she represents no such thing and just wants to make the changes she's going to make to Hogwarts anyway seem like they were carefully reasoned. However, her attempt at Affably Evil is so bad that no one is fooled.
      • From a political standpoint her position is blatantly obvious, though, her language being extremely middle-class conservative.
      • In the third book, Lupin tells an anecdote about a boggart that came across two people at once; one was most afraid of flesh-eating slugs and the other was most afraid of headless corpses. The boggart, possibly attempting to combine "slug" and "headless", turned into half a slug, which, as Lupin points out, is not nearly as scary.
    • Subverted in the Judgment of Solomon from the Old Testament. Two women each claim to be a boy's mother. Solomon cannot tell who is lying, so he declares that he will cut the baby in half and give each woman her 'share.' The boy's true mother gives up her claim so that the child lives, which reveals who truly loved him. Subverted in that Solomon never intended this as a legitimate solution but only a trap to catch out the liar, leading to the phrase "splitting the baby" when someone destroys the subject of a dispute rather than assign it to one party.
    • Neatly illustrated by Samuel Johnson in The History of Rasselas. Rasselas falls prey to this fallacy, and is called on it by his sister Nekayah (quoting their friend, the poet Imlac):

    "'Nature sets her gifts on the right hand and on the left.' Those conditions which flatter hope and attract desire are so constituted that as we approach one we recede from another. There are goods so opposed that we cannot seize both, but by too much prudence may pass between them at too great a distance to reach either."

    Live-Action TV

    • Law and Order sometimes falls into this, with the creators admitting that their show has likely pissed off people on both sides of the aisle at some point. One notable example would be "Talking Points," which opened with someone firing on an Ann Coulter stand-in who was painted as a bigoted harridan... but then the shooter turned out to be a stem cell research advocate who was afraid that his endeavors were being poisoned by her rhetoric.
      • At the end of the episode "Illegal," McCoy has finished preparing a report on whether or not a violent incident between police and protesters constituted a "police riot." He concludes that, after reading it, "both sides will be angry with me." His deputy replies, "You probably got it right, then."
    • The West Wing, unusually for a political show, subverts this. Since it's about the President, there's plenty of compromise, but not because it's better; it's just what can get passed by an opposing Congress. And it's not unheard-of for one side to win. The merits of moderation were a matter of some heated debate in one episode:

    Josh: If we had a bench full of moderates in '54, Separate But Equal would still be on the books, and this place would still have two sets of drinking fountains.
    Toby: Moderate means temperate, it means responsible. It means thoughtful.
    Josh: It means cautious. It means unimaginative.
    Toby: It means being more concerned about making decisions than about making history.
    Josh: Is that really the greatest tragedy in the world, that we nominated somebody who made an impression instead of some second-rate crowd pleaser?
    Toby: The ability... The ability to see both sides of an argument is not the hallmark of an inferior intellect.
    Josh: What about the vast arenas of debate a moderate won't even address? A mind like Lang? Let them pick a conservative with a mind like Justice Brady had. You can hate his position, but he was a visionary. He blew the whole thing open. He changed the whole argument...

      • They manage, with some finagling, to get one liberal judge and one conservative judge to balance each other out, as opposed to the one moderate judge that they were arguing over. This allows for both positions to be represented while not having to settle for "moderation."
      • The show also averts this in general through it's largely unapologetic embracing of a moderate-left Democratic perspective on most issues.
    • In an episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie, Mercy's Muslim community was divided (again): the more liberal members of the congregation wanted men and women to pray together in the same room, while the more conservative members insisted that a wall be erected between the men and women's prayer spaces. Amaar, the imam, erected a wall that stretched halfway across the room, so the conservative-minded men could pray in front of it with the conservative-minded women behind it, while the liberal congregants would pray on the wall-less side of the room. Neither faction was pleased (but it was a typical Canadian solution).
    • In Babylon 5, the Vorlons has a saying claiming "Understanding is a three-edged sword". Sheridan finally vocalizes the meaning behind it in season 4 when he's telling off the Vorlons and the Shadows before kicking them out of the galaxy. Basically, understanding has three sides: Your side, their side, and the truth.
    • House presents most attempts at compromise as examples of this fallacy. In keeping with the series's position on the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, it seems that we are usually meant to agree with him. This is subverted in an important instance, though, when Stacy defies House's wishes and takes a third option while he's in a coma following his enfarction, saving his leg and probably his life as well.
    • This was part of Jon Stewart's show-ending rant on Crossfire. The show was infamous for bringing on people of supremely dichotomous views, whom the hosts would then egg on into an argument. The thinking was that the producers were presenting the views of the mainstream public on an issue by bringing on their loudest extremists, with the public view somewhere between them. This point-of-view was the basis for Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity."
    • In Community episode "Football, Feminism and You" Jeff tries to invoke this to justify his selfish behavior involving Troy. Annie immediately calls him on it.
    • In Yes Prime Minister, Sir Humphrey is trying (without much success) to find an argument against a plan for banning cigarette advertising and punitive taxes on tobacco. Eventually he's reduced to "The government should not take sides." Hacker spots the fallacy at once: "You mean, impartial as between the fire engine and the fire?"
    • In QI, when Alan Davies talked about giving honey to bees that have been hurt in order to help them recover, Dara O'Briain responded that he would prefer to just squash it. Rob Brydon followed up with his compromise plan - drown the bee in honey.
    • In The Office, this is Michael Scott's idea of a compromise. When Oscar protested that Angela's baby posters were offensive to him, his idea of a compromise was to have the poster made into a shirt Oscar would wear everyday so Angela could see it but Oscar couldn't. Do we even need a spoiler tag here to hide the fact that neither of them liked the idea?

    Newspaper Comics

    • In one strip of The Boondocks, George W. Bush says (paraphrased from memory), "On one hand, Colin Powell supports affirmative action. On the other hand, Condoleezza Rice favors the death penalty for anyone who teaches a black person to read. So I figure that keeping black people out of college is good enough." (You have to expect this sort of thing from the comic.)
    • In one strip of Get Fuzzy, Bucky built a robot designed to be the most moderate Presidential candidate ever, with a hodgepodge of backgrounds, friendly demeanor, and spouting quotes like "my father shared your job and/or ethnicity!" However, Rob breaks the robot when he asks it the first controversial issue he can think of, "Don't you need to raise taxes to pay for the war?", causing it to explode from a Logic Bomb.

    Tabletop Games

    • Dungeons & Dragons: The True Neutral alignment, which started out as people who are dedicated to maintaining balance, to the point that they'll switch sides in the middle of battle. Druids had this alignment the most. True Neutral changed to what Absolute Neutral (or just "Neutral") used to be: people with no strong convictions toward any side of good or evil and law or chaos. Creatures without intelligence and people with profound apathy would have this alignment. Fourth Edition calls this "Unaligned."


    Web Originals

    • Parodied: No matter what the issue, JP Nickel gives you... Both Sides!!!
    • Discussed in this Angry Aussie video, as an argument when discussing creationists' arguments against evolution.
    • Parodied in a Scientific American April Fool's joke:

    Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.

    1339. If unsure of what side of the road we drive on, the middle of the road is not a healthy compromise.

    Western Animation

    • The Simpsons does this a lot. Admittedly, it might be mostly because they live in such a Crapsack World that any idea, plan or policy is almost by definition horrendously flawed, but the writers still want to offer some kind of uplifting moral at the end of the episode.
      • See the quotes page from a Treehouse of Horror episode in which Kang and Kodos run for president disguised as Bill Clinton and Bob Dole.
      • The episode where Lisa goes vegetarian tries to pull this at the last minute.
      • Arguably lampshaded in the episode in which Homer gets his jaw wired shut. In the middle of a long story about the old days, Grandpa says: "...after that, things got pretty quiet until FDR challenged Superman to a race around the world. FDR beat him by a furlong, or so the stories say. The truth lies somewhere in between..."
      • And then there's the debacle with the children of Springfield trying to figure out why all the adults had disappeared from the streets after Grampa started selling his aphrodisiac:

    Millhouse: Ahem. OK, here's what we've got: the Rand Corporation, in conjunction with the saucer people under the supervision of the reverse vampires are forcing our parents to go to bed early in a fiendish plot to eliminate the meal of dinner.

    • South Park uses this trope a lot to deliver its message. Strawman Politicals from both sides clash and make the problem worse, until someone delivers a final speech concluding that neither side is correct. For example, we shouldn't support the Boy Scouts' decision to exclude membership to gays, but we also shouldn't try to bring down the organization because of the positive effect it continues to have on our youth. Sometimes, the solutions have been highly unconvincing compromises presented as perfect for everyone, giving rise to complaints that the makers try to force the trope. Through the show's many seasons, however, they have lampshaded and subverted the common formula a number of times.
    • Futurama made fun of this at the end of one episode, where Bender states the moral he learned:

    "I'll never be too good or too evil ever again, I'll just be me."
    "Do you think you could be a little less evil?"
    "I don't know, Leela. Do you think you could survive a 600-foot fall?"

    Real Life

    • There was a 20th-Century American city-machine boss who boasted that his administration followed a Golden Mean between total corruption on the one hand and total honesty on the other.
    • Some people consider this a problem with modern journalism: to appear "objective", many reporters and commentators will interview both sides of an issue and avoid as much as possible indicating that one side is demonstrably in error.
      • Okrent's Law: The quest for balance creates imbalance because sometimes things are true.
      • Paul Krugman's Law: Invoking the Golden Mean Fallacy in the American press eliminates the penalty for extremism and creates an environment where people cannot get accurate information.
        • Though the op-ed invokes the fallacy itself by portraying one side as extremist and irrational and the other side as equally irrational for attempting to compromise with them, therefore making the alternative for the opposition to be extreme in the opposite direction as a more "rational" course of action.
      • Joe Klein of Time, for a while, had a consistent reputation for painting both sides as dangerous extremes, most notably when he regarded liberal Democrats opposed to warrantless wiretapping to be just as out of touch with the American base as the right was on the Terri Schiavo right to die issue. Not to mention a cover story he wrote called "Ascendancy of the Center", with perhaps the most Anvilicious yet banal cover image in print history: a Venn diagram made of two circles, the right one red, and the left one blue, with the center represented by the overlap violet.
      • Though many of them called it a "false dichotomy", this is the fallacy many liberal commentators claimed Jon Stewart was committing with his "Rally to Restore Sanity".
      • Of course many modern day reporters avert the trope by being blatantly biased.
    • In Livy's writings, the Samnites manage to trap a Roman army in a narrow pass, but since the relations between the two people was tense, but not yet at war, their commander vacillated about what to do. One of his advisors said he should let them go, and try to win friends with the Roman people. Another one said that they should wipe out this army and try their best to crush Rome while it was reeling from the blow. He eventually settles on humiliating the Roman army, accepting surrender and token tribute from them, and then letting them go home. The result? The Romans get pissed as hell, but are still at more or less full strength, and come back with a vengeance, stomping him hard.
    • Congressman John Tanner (D-TN) on his fellow Blue Dog Democrats: "We're too liberal in our home areas and too conservative in Washington. I mean, we get it on both sides, and which means I think we're doing something right."
    • One of the theories about the Treaty of Versailles that ended WWI was that it was compromised by this principle. The treaty was harsh enough to upset the Germans but not harsh enough to stop them from retaliating.
      • Note that Hitler *broke* these rules! And more important, note that the Allies allowed him to do so - while they didn't with the good democrats of Weimar Germany! Case of Idiot Ball or what?
        • Not really. Historical opinion is still divided on whether or not appeasement was a wise policy - certainly, buying time at Munich let the UK and France step-up re-armament to a level that they would find it easier to fight Germany with.
      • A part of the treaty was that Germany could not possess an army of more than 100k infantry, which would be suicidal to go to war with. The problem with the treaty is more likely to have been that it leaned too hard towards the French standpoint (squash ze Germans!) while not having the support in the US or GB to be followed through in later years. A good example of the disaster the treaty was is that the attempted alleviation of the harsh terms, the League of Nations (precursor to the UN), failed to secure membership of the US and Soviets. Since Germany was barred from entering, this meant that almost half of the great powers were not part of the League, making it a useless formality at best.
        • Another problem that has been noticed was the forcible downsizing of the German military, took away the new German Government's ability to defend itself from domestic threats while encouraging unemployed service personal to become hatchetmen for radical political organization. Under this theory the disarming of Germany actually aggravated problems.
        • Germany joined the League of Nations in 1926, the Soviet Union (founded in 1922) in 1934. From the French POV the problem with the Versailles settlement was that it was left incomplete because the defense treaties with the UK and the US that were supposed to guarantee French security did not come about after the US Congress failed to ratify the Versailles Treaty (which from the French POV leaned too much to the American, or more specifically President Wilson's standpoint) and the entrance of the US into the League of Nations. This gave the British government the pretext it needed not to enter into a permanent defensive alliance with France either, and that in turn caused French policy towards Germany to be much more confrontational because until the mid-1920s it was felt they had to use their transient military superiority to improve a situation largely determined by the much larger population and industrial strength of Germany.
        • The destruction of the Hapsburg Empire can be criticized too for making ministates at just the time when a resurgent Germany was out for blood.
      • Perhaps the best interpretation of the Treaty of Versailles is that it was a toss-up between British pragmatism, American idealism and French revanchism, and ended up trying to be all three and failing at each one.
    • There are many branches of science that are seen as controversial by laymen but are, in reality, grounded in a lot of evidence. As a result, people will often try to find a common ground behind science that works and quackery that doesn't, sometimes with disastrous results. Take, for example, medicine, which is "controversial" because of influences like the pharmaceutical industry, so often well-meaning newscasters will, "for balance", hold a debate between an accredited medical professionals and (often unqualified) alternative medicine advocates, even though if alternative medicine were to work, it'd just be called "medicine".
    • This can be a problem in wikis (just like the one you're reading!) - two opposed people get in an Edit War, and the only ways to appease them both are (a) come up with something halfway between the two, or (b) have the article contradict itself.
    • During the 2008 American presidential election, John McCain was all "Drill Baby Drill" and Barack Obama was more on the side of developing alternate energy. So Paris Hilton (who McCain had negatively namechecked in an ad saying Obama was a celebrity like her) appeared in a fake commercial saying basically, "why not do a little of both? Develop new energy, but in the meantime drill now." This was actually thought to be a good idea by some, and showcased Hilton's not-as-dumb-as-she-appearsness.
    • The centrist Democratic Leadership Council, who have infamously fashioned themselves as a third way.
    • The Republican Main Street Partnership and Republican Leadership Council, easily.
    • This can be exploited for marketing purposes with what is known as Goldilocks pricing. Suppose you have two products, Product A is the basic version which gives just the essentials for a low price, and Product B has all the bells and whistles but is more expensive. Many people will see this and decide that A does all they need, and so there is no point in paying extra for B. On the other hand, bring out Product C which is slightly better than Product B but with another price hike, and suddenly B becomes much more tempting, as it offers most of what you get from C but at a lower price. The classic example of this is Economy, Business, and First Class seating on airlines.
      • The general subversion with this is when there's not enough difference between the three, causing one of them to eventually drop away. (Good examples would be the end of Third Class Mail and Train services in the UK)
    • Averted by Aristotle, even though he is often looked to as the source of the fallacy. Though he does argue that each virtue is a mean between two extremes, he remarks that it would be stupid to infer that therefore we should seek moderation in all things: for instance, virtue itself is something which one should seek in the extreme. It doesn't make sense to strive to be "just virtuous enough" (see the above Futurama reference).
      • Just virtuous enough what though? Virtuous enough to live your life? and how extreme? Giving all of your money to the first homeless person you see on the street could be considered to be virtuous, just like donating all of your organs while you still live, but would you? have you? but I'd bet most of my possessions that nobody on this site takes virtue to any extreme, because as well as helping others, we should be able to live our own lives for our own pursuits.
        • Apologies if that sounded pompous or self-righteous, but that was one of the most thought-provoking posts I have read in a long time.
        • That's sort of the point of Aristotle's eudaemonia and his idea of what virtue is. Aristotle would note that a compromise between selflessness and selfishness might be enlightened self-interest or generosity. The idea of "virtue" from Aristotle is different, ironically, from what we would consider "virtue" after centuries of Christian concepts got put into the mix. Aristotle is basically defining virtue as "what is good", so that what is listed above would all not be virtue.
      • One specific example Aristotle also gave in stating that not everything is good if done in moderation is adultery: adultery is not good just because you do it neither too much nor too little. It's a vice regardless of how much you do it, so just don't do it at all.
        • Clearly Aristotle was fiddling the wrong ladies.
    • The idea that teachers should deal with school bullies by staying neutral is an example. Many schools treat bullying as though it were a mutual conflict where both students are equally wrong, rather than one student abusing another.
      • The general principle is usually expressed, as probably everyone has heard, "It takes two people to start a fight/argument". Approximately 90% of the time someone says this, it's because they don't want to go to the trouble of finding out if one of those two people was right. Or it's because they can't figure out that it actually only takes 1 person to start a fight, it just takes 2 people to make it a fair fight rather than a merciless beat-down.
        • They also try punishing both people equally sometimes. eg, Kid A hits Kid B, Kid B shoves him away, brawl ensues. 99% chance kid B is punished just as bad even when they see it was self-defense.
        • It's generally a result of the "you shouldn't be biased towards either side" philosophy.
        • It's also because they usually have to deal with parents on both sides outright refusing to believe their kids would do such a thing in the first place and blame the other kid. Punishing both kids equally is the only way to keep them at bay.
    • This is apparently how Stalin won debates before he became undisputed ruler of the Soviet Union. He would ask for the two opposing sides of an issue, then say he belonged to a sensible middle, undermining both rivals.
    • The events surrounding the "Border War", intended to be a compromise between pro- and antislavery settlers when Kansas became a state, wound up killing many.
    • Whenever Canadian policymakers refer to a "uniquely Canadian" or "made in Canada" solution to a problem (which they do all the freaking time), it essentially means somewhere between a U.S. and EU approach, even if one approach or the other might very well be preferable.
    • Sales. You think it's worth $30, they say it's worth $100, but it's [2] on sale for $60! Heck, that's less than the mean. Given the proliferation of this tactic, it seems to work.
    • An any internet forum discussing religion, (and by "discussing", we of course mean arguing until someone gets compared to Hitler and the moderaters shut it down) there is very nearly always some kind soul who tries to get the evolution v. creationism factions to meet in the middle and very nearly always says something along the lines of "Evolution is true, but God set it in motion". This never works.
      • It's called theistic evolution, and it isn't necessarily this trope - belief in evolution is not related to religious belief. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope (with his, y'know, 2.1 billion followers) both support evolution. Theistic evolution is not so much an attempt to reconcile both factions but an updating of religious positions that takes into account advances in science.
        • Creationists and Atheists are still likely to see Theistic Evolution as an example of this trope. The atheists claim that to say that evolution is guided is to miss the point. Creationists say that to interpret the Bible (Or Torah or Koran) as speaking anyway other than literally is heresy. While theistic evolution is not always a case of the golden mean (Many theistic evolutionists simply see evolution as the process god used), opponents on each side see these people as trying to have it both ways.
    • Historian Gaddis Smith observed that during the Cold War, when strategists were called upon to provide the president with a list of options for a crisis situation, they'd usually provide five options. Option #1 would be "capitulate", option #5 would be "nuclear war". The strategist's actual proposal would be option #3.
      • The KGB did something similar with their intelligence predictions, formulating three predictions: Best Case, Middle Case, Worst Case. The Middle Case was always the one presented, supplemented with data from the Best and Worse cases.
    1. Poe's Law notwithstanding
    2. perpetually