->''"False Dichotomy: This is where you say that there are only two choices, when actually there are more. For instance, you might say that someone is either alive, or they're dead, ignoring the fact that they might be Dracula. Or you might say that if someone's not a Democrat, they must be some sort of Republican, ignoring the very real possibility that they may be Dracula."''
-->-- LoreSjoberg, [[http://youtube.com/watch?v=oyK1LTfLXiM Alt Text episode 5]], "Logical Fallacies"

%% One quote is enough. Put additional quotes in the Quotes tab.

A false dichotomy[[note]]("Die-cot-uh-me/Dai-cot-ah-mi")[[/note]], also known as either/or reasoning, is when just two options are presented for something when there are actually (many) others. Moreover, the two options presented are rigged to favour one answer. There are two ways of doing this:

'''Classic'''. One choice is an unacceptable extreme, the presenter hopes the target will commit to the not-unacceptable-extreme option: "Kill the children, or buy their cookies."

'''Polarization'''. Both choices are unacceptable extremes, the presenter hopes the target will commit to the less-unacceptable option: "Kill the children with their own cookies, or only kill half of them."

Reality is rarely so simple, unforgiving or rigged. Instead of an artificial binary choice favouring an ideology, life offers a diverse landscape of choices and consequences.

This binary approach is also a common media trope. Simply put: it is a lot easier for an audience to understand a story where characters are villains ''or'' heroes. In the simpler romances, it is more straightforward if characters exhibit a transcendent love, or an excoriating hate. Contrast GoldenMeanFallacy. Necessary for someone to be able to TakeAThirdOption (though, of course, doing that instantly subverts this trope by revealing the falsity of the dichotomy.) Compare and contrast the SemanticSlipperySlopeFallacy.

{{Sub Trope}}s:

* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: When putting the baby up for adoption isn't even mentioned as a possibility.
* IfJesusThenAliens
* NoBisexuals
* WithUsOrAgainstUs
* ThereAreTwoKindsOfPeopleInTheWorld
** MadonnaWhoreComplex
* AllMythsAreTrue

!!! Looks like this fallacy but is not:

* There really are only two options.
** The simplest form of this is to make the choices "A" or "Not A". In this case, "Not A" encompasses ''everything'' that isn't "A", even if that category is massive. For example, "You're either a Conservative, or not a Conservative," does include all possibilities, even though "Not a Conservative" includes liberals, libertarians, anarchists, or any other political philosophy that isn't simply conservatism by another name.
* The act of presenting two options ''makes there become'' just two options. Normally "WithUsOrAgainstUs" is a false dichotomy, but a leader can declare that all non-allies are their enemies. Such a declaration is performative[[note]]''i.e.'', if I declare you my enemy, you are my enemy[[/note]] so it's not fallacious and thus ''isn't'' a false dichotomy, even if the reasoning that leads someone to say it is. It's rarely a good idea under most circumstances, however.
* There really are only two options, even though there's a third (semi-)option that comes from combining (bits of) the other two. This is usually due to a linguistic quirk of English whereby both the Inclusive Or (A or B or both) and Exclusive Or (A or B but never both, often abbreviated xor) are both just 'or'. E.g. the statement "Everyone reading this page is brown-skinned or a Troper" is true for an Inclusive Or, but not for an Exclusive Or. Naturally, most statements like that are misleading in general speech. See the trope MathematiciansAnswer.

%%If you have time, please take time to put examples in alphabetical order. This page Administrivia/HowToAlphabetizeThings should help you with that.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Comicbooks]]
* During the initial promotion for ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', Marvel released a pair of message board signature images reading either "I'm with ComicBook/CaptainAmerica" or "I'm with ComicBook/IronMan". Within days, fans were creating their own versions by the dozens, the most popular being: "You're all fucked when [[Comicbook/PlanetHulk the Hulk gets back]]" or '''''"THOU ART NO THOR"!'''''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/AFewGoodMen'': Colonel Jessup, after having been accused of killing one of his own men (admittedly by accident): "I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post." (You are either at war or not a soldier, used against a Military Lawyer)
* The "Battle of Wits" from ''Film/ThePrincessBride'' presents this. The Man in Black puts two goblets between them and asks, "Where is the poison?" Vizzini goes through dozens of justifications and possibilities for why one would poison either one, trying to stall for time. Either way, he never considers that [[spoiler:they were both poisoned. Vizzini pulled the fallacy on himself, since the Man in Black never said that only one of the goblets was poisoned.]]
* {{Defied|Trope}} in ''Film/DonnieDarko'''s “Life Line” classroom scene:
-->'''Donnie''': Well, life isn't that simple. I mean, who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.
-->'''Kitty Farmer''': Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.
-->'''Donnie''': Okay. But you're not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here, like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else.
* Layla from ''Film/SkyHigh'', asked to demonstrate her powers, claims that the hero/sidekick dichotomy is a false one, but is cut off by Boomer declaring her a sidekick.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'', ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'': Two for one, one called out, the other unintentional.
-->'''Anakin''': If you’re not with me, then you’re my enemy!
-->'''Obi-Wan''': Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
:: A lot of people then pointed out that Obi-Wan's above statement... is ''itself'' very absolute. The usually level-headed Obi-Wan is inexplicably claiming that anyone who deals with an absolute view on anything ''must'' be a Sith. Besides being idiotic, it also is ironic when you consider that ''everything the Jedi Order does is absolute''. The rules against marriage, attachment, etc. are all iron-clad, one-size-fits-all rules, that one can be expelled from the Order for not toeing the line on. In essence, he's calling ''himself'' a Sith. [[GreyAndGrayMorality Wasn't that]] [[NotSoDifferent the point?]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Jokes]]
* There's a standard joke about someone moving to Northern Ireland and being asked by the locals if they're Protestant or Catholic: when they explain that they are in fact atheist/Buddhist/Muslim/other, the locals respond "Yes, but are you a Protestant or a Catholic atheist/Buddhist/Muslim/other?"
** Similar joke: an atheist is asked but is asked to clarify "...is it the Protestant God or that Catholic God you don't believe in?"
* [[http://www.blap.com/joke.php?query=176 This joke]] includes one at the end. The third interviewee presumes that the prospective employer must wear contacts, as it would be hard to wear glasses without ears. Apparently, it did not occur to the interviewee that his prospective employer might not require any correction to his vision at all.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* A Franchise/SherlockHolmes [[OutlivedItsCreator sequel-by-other-hands]] has Holmes called upon to judge which of two violins is the one Davy Crockett played at the Alamo. He quickly identifies one as a fake, but realises [[spoiler: that he was intended to; the owner wanted him to declare ''a'' violin as genuine, and so was presenting him with the false dichotomy of "which one's the fake?" They both are.]]
* [[Literature/{{Twilight}} Bella]] believes she must either be with Edward or with Jacob. She also believes she must either become a vampire or grow old. Later, she believes that [[spoiler: she must either wait until her belly is full-sized to deliver, or abort it, because no life-threatening pregnancy was ever solved by putting the babies on life-support to save the life of the mother]]. Bella thinks only in absolutes throughout the series. Another example would be when Edward leaves her in the second book. To her, her only options are being happy with Edward, or being miserable without him. Being happy without Edward never once occurs to her, no matter how often it's suggested to her.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheColbertReport'':
** Creator/StephenColbert loves this trope and takes it to the extreme, often asking questions such as "America: greatest nation in the world, or greatest nation in the universe?" When the interviewee starts to say he/she doesn't want to be quoted as saying either of those, he explains that those are the only options available: [[TwistingTheWords "So I'll put you down for 'world,' because that's not AS great as 'universe'..."]]
** "Pick a side, we're at war."
** "George W. Bush: Great President, or The Greatest President?"
** He also divides the supermarket into cheese and non-cheese. Assuming that he classifies everything ''with cheese in it'' as cheese, it's a real dichotomy… but not a particularly important one. What about cottage cheese and other borderline dairy products?
* ''Series/ParksAndRecreation'': Leslie tried to drum up public support for building a park by phrasing the question, "Wouldn't you rather have a park than a storage facility for nuclear waste?"
* ''Series/{{Revolution}}'': In "[[Recap/RevolutionS1E20TheDarkTower The Dark Tower]]", [[spoiler: Nora Clayton]] gets shot in the gut by a coil gun and is bleeding out. Rachel Matheson tries to convince Team Matheson to just leave her behind and turn the power back, and [[spoiler: Nora]] herself even urges them to leave her. However, Charlie Matheson intervenes and flat out states that this is not an either-or situation and that they can both turn the power back and get [[spoiler: Nora]] to an infirmary. So, Aaron Pittman and Rachel go on to get the power back on, and Charlie and Miles Matheson go on to get [[spoiler: Nora]] to an infirmary.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* Occurs in [[http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2001-11-05/ this]] ''ComicStrip/{{Dilbert}}'' comic. Similarly, [[http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2008-02-23/ "Would you say you worship Satan, or do you simply respect his no-nonsense approach to discipline?"]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* RPG game ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'': if you aren't a fanatic supporter of the oppressive totalitarian regime, a loyal servant of The Computer, you are a death-dealing commie mutant traitor. This one is notable because ''everyone'' in ''Paranoia'' is a commie mutant traitor at heart, so instead of there being more than two possibilities, it turns out there's only one. Well, some of the commie mutant traitors do love the Computer.
* Many, many debates about alignment in the ''[[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons D&D]]'' game have arisen because of assuming every possible action ''must'' be either "Good" or "Evil", while overlooking the existence of "Neutral" as an alternative. This frequently comes up for the paladin class, because the phrasing of their code of honor implies that even ''tolerating'' any act of evil or chaos can cost them all their class features.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* Part of a trick played on Kyousuke in ''VisualNovel/GSenjouNoMaou,'' which is especially amusing because he just saw it pulled on his idiot friend. The trick pulled on his friend was the question "Which river is the longest in the world? A. the Amazon B. the Yangtze C. the Edo?"[[note]]He picked the Edo river. Like noted, he's an idiot.[[/note]] while it was never stated that it was actually a multiple choice question, and thus the answer is the Nile. The trick played on Kyousuke comes immediately after, where he gets asked, "Will you [[spoiler:go on a date with Mizuha at a classical concert]] or somewhere else?" and he accidentally picks option one before realizing that '[[spoiler:don't go on a date at all]]' was also a valid choice, but is too proud to back down now.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* Summed up nicely in [[http://www.whatisdeepfried.com/2001/11/23/grocery-misconduct/ this Deep Fried strip.]]
* The WebComic/{{xkcd}} comic strip [[http://xkcd.com/871/ "Charity"]].
** [[http://xkcd.com/322/ "Pix plz"]] was [[http://chainsawsuit.com/2008/05/09/strip-363/ parodied by Chainsawsuit]]. Note how the jerk distills Black Hat down to "[[AdHominem Stalking girls]]" or "WhiteKnighting". So if anyone calls someone online out on their misogyny, they're only doing it to get into girls' pants and/or out of some need to defend their honor. The actual ''content'' of the criticism is to be brushed aside in favor of [[AdHominem allegations about the critic]]. To be fair to Straub, this is inherent in ''any'' accusation of "white knighting".
*** The above actually strawmans a parody. Asking an intruder into one's own home how he identified the individual is a valid question and criticism. It does not generalize to all online discussions or even all accusations of misogyny. Black Hat may have been able to come up with a third option. But he couldn't have come up with a ''good'' option. Then again, [[AntiHero Black Hat is not a "good" person, even in canon]]. Also, in the example comment, the content was not dismissed (it was actually accepted as true.) It's only that Black Hat's actions are no less problematic.
* In ''Edition Wars: Invaders from the Fourth Dimension'', a story in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' book ''Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales'', the [[MeetYourEarlyInstallmentWeirdness Fourth Edition]] [[EvilTwin version]] of Haley is able to knock out Durkon by stabbing him in the foot, because nowhere in the rules does it say that she ''can't'' knock him out by stabbing him in the foot.
-->'''4E Elan:''' Then that means you used--\\
'''4E Haley:''' Yes. I used the power of abandoned verisimilitude!\\
'''4E Elan:''' Anything is possible when you don't care about what's actually possible!
** A straighter example is the conflict to begin with. 4E Roy believes that people can either play 4th Edition or 3.5. Eventually both teams TakeAThirdOption [[spoiler:by attacking ''other'' types of gaming]].
* Called out in the Fantasy theme of ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'': When one of the {{Player Character}}s asks the DM "Would you rather have campaign progress or character development?" the DM promptly replies "It is ''not'' a dichotomy!" In the accompanying rant, it is commented, "Of course not. In a dichotomy, you do get ''one'' of the options."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* ''Extremely'' common in a FlameWar. In fact you can test this yourself; go to any wikia based site and bring up a commonly held but non-verifiable belief, you won't have to wait long to see this kind of argument show up.
* The LoveItOrHateIt trope. There ''is'' a group of middle-of-the-road viewers/readers/players, but they are generally ignored. (However, the reason it's a trope in the first place is because that middle-of-the-road group is far smaller than for most fandoms.)
* A popular joke on Website/YouTube is to comment on a video by reciting the number of "dislike" ratings the video has at the time of commenting and accusing all of them of something; common examples include "[X] people missed the 'like' button," "[X] people had no childhood," "[X] people are Music/JustinBieber fans," or some kind of threat. Such comments tend to be found in the highest rated comments, but luckily, subversions and parodies are replacing them in that spot (a common version referencing something ''in'' the video or relevant to it).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark''
** "Gnomes" is about [[BlandNameProduct Harbucks Coffee]] threatening the existence of Tweek Bros. Coffeehouse. Mr. Tweek gets the public on his side to oppose the larger corporation and a proposition is soon presented that would determine whether or not Harbucks would be allowed to stay. An ad is soon presented by "Citizens for a Fair and Equal way to get Harbucks Coffee kicked out of Town Forever".
-->It's time to stop large corporations. Prop. 10 is about children. Vote yes on Prop. 10, or else, you hate children. You don't hate… children… do you?
** Spoofed in "The Death of Eric Cartman":
-->'''Mrs. Stotch''': I don't know whether to [[YouAreGrounded ground him]] or call a doctor.
-->'''Mr. Stotch''': I think you should call a doctor. I'll ground him.
* In the episode "Screwed the Pooch" from ''WesternAnimation/FamilyGuy'':
-->'''Lawyer:''' Mr. Griffin, which of the following two phrases best describes Brian Griffin: "problem drinker" or "African American haberdasher"?
-->'''Peter:''' Uh, do I-I guess problem drinker, but that's uh-
-->'''Lawyer:''' Thank you. Now: "sexual deviant" or "magic picture that if you stare at it long enough, you see something"?
-->'''Peter:''' Well, sexual deviant, but that other one's not even, eh-
-->'''Lawyer:''' Thank you.
* In ''WesternAnimation/KingOfTheHill'', Hank Hill and his friends can't wrap their head around their neighbor Khan Souphanousinphone [[InterchangeableAsianCultures not being either Chinese or Japanese]], even after he corrects them.
--> '''Hank''': So are you Chinese or Japanese?
--> '''Khan''': No, we are Laotian.
--> '''Bill''': The ocean? What ocean?
--> '''Khan''': From Laos, stupid! It's a landlocked country in South-East Asia between Vietnam and Thailand, population approximately 4.7 million!
--> '''Hank''': ''(long pause)'' So are you Chinese or Japanese?
--> '''Khan''': D'oh!
* In ''WesternAnimation/DragonsRidersOfBerk'', Hiccup must choose between beating Snotlout at The Thawfest Games or letting Snotlout win, with it being shown that if Snotlout ''doesn't'' win, he's in for hell from his father (of breaking the family streak) to the point of Snotlout outright panicking when he thinks it'll happen. It's '''never''' brought up that maybe Snotlout's dad is taking this too seriously, shouldn't have his love for his son based on a game, or anything of the sort. It also doesn't help that Snotlout is an obnoxious winner, not even realizing that Hiccup threw the race for him, when part of Hiccup's dilemma was if he was just winning to be a jerk (he TookALevelInJerkass so they could wonder that, too) instead of helping out a friend.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' episode "Son of Stan, pt. 2", Stan and Francine argue over whether the proper way to raise Steve is to be ''totally'' strict, or ''totally'' permissive.
* The 1967 cartoon ''The Bear That Wasn't'' (based on the book of the same name) has a bear told by factory managers that he's not a bear but a silly man in a fur coat that needs a shave. They tell him this [[ArgumentumAdNauseam over and over]], but the clincher comes when the factory's president is brought in. The president takes the bear to the zoo and explains that bears belong in the zoo. Since the bear was not in the zoo, he could not be a bear. The bears in the zoo even agree, saying that a real bear would be in the zoo with the other bears!
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The "debate" between religion and science is itself an example. Putting aside the fact that religion isn't even a single thing, it isn't actually at war with science. The whole concept is outright bizarre when you consider how many famous historical scientists were priests (and a good number of modern ones), the papal bulls protecting free inquiry, the funding of science, the many historic universities with religious founders, and the fact that the Vatican itself has a science department (the Pontifical Academy of Sciences), along with several labs. Even if the Theory of Evolution were disproven, Creationism would not automatically take its place. These aren't even mutually exclusive as species may be created but still evolve over time, otherwise known as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theistic_evolution Theistic Evolution]]
* "Entertainment" vs. "Art"
* "Education" vs "Entertainment"
* Offense vs Defense
* Precision vs Power
* Wisdom vs Inexperience
* [[MadonnaWhoreComplex Sexual 'Purity']] vs [[SlutShaming Deviant/Unnatural Sexuality]]
* Love vs Lust
* [[BelligerentSexualTension Love vs Hate]]
* Selfishness vs Altruism
* Universalism vs Relativism
* Good vs Evil, as some [[WhatIsEvil philosophers]] [[AboveGoodAndEvil may argue]].
* Nature vs Nurture, as most scientists claim.
* [[SocialDarwinism Jingoism vs Extinction]]
* Liberalism vs Socialism
* Socialism vs Nationalism
* National vs Foreign(-National)
* Fact vs Opinion
* Nationalist vs National Traitor
** "America - Love It Or Leave It" is a popular false dilemma in the USA, though it's not exactly unique to them. The dilemma suggests that a true patriot must embrace everything ever done by America, or [[http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Red-baiting become]] [[http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Terrorism-baiting un-American]]. However, since America as a nation was founded on the concept of respectful political dissent, one must doubt the premise of this false dilemma very seriously.
*** To say nothing of that this fallacy can easily be turned back on those who use it, ''i.e.'' declaring that nobody who truly loves America would allow it not to fix its current problems, thus implying that those who use the fallacy [[NoTrueScotsman don't really love America]] (in a mature way) by thinking it's perfect and can do no wrong, that is, enabling it.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_economy Capitalism vs Socialism]]
* Zionism vs Antisemitism
* Mundane vs Divine
* [[PositiveDiscrimination Affirmative Action]] vs Racism
* [[StrawFeminist Feminism]] vs [[HeManWomanHater Misogyny]]
* Femininity vs Masculinity
* [[HeManWomanHater Misogyny]] vs [[PsychoMisandrist Misandry]]
* [[RealWomenDontWearDresses Femininity vs Toughness]]
* [[ManlyGay Masculinity vs Homosexuality]]
* The concept of False Consciousness is this in spades. It assumes that anyone who doesn't share the views of the user's worldview must be stupid/brainwashed/mentally ill/evil/a sellout/etc.
* Masculinity vs Beauty, denying that you could be [[AgentPeacock both]]
* [[NoBisexuals Homosexuality vs Heterosexuality]]
* "[[HeteronormativeCrusader Homophobia]]" vs [[GayAesop LGBTQ support]]. Either you support gay marriage because you're gay yourself, or you're against it because you hate gay people. There's quite a good deal of in-between groups that rarely get heard from, such as "unionists" who believe gay marriage is wrong, but should not be banned because marriage is an intrinsic right, or straight people who have no problem with gay marriage, and some gay people don't want gay marriage because they consider the institution historically flawed or because they would rather take political action against issues like LGBTQ youth homelessness and find the marriage issue insignificant.
* Globalization vs Xenophobia
* [[ComedyGhetto Drama vs Comedy]], ignoring that a story could [[FirstLawOfTragicomedies combine]] [[ComedyDrama both]].
* "All men masturbate, or else they're lying."
* {{Doublespeak}} in general.
** Dedication vs [[TheOnlyRighteousIndexOfFanatics Fanaticism]]
** Confidence vs Arrogance
** Visionary vs Unrealistic
** [[LawfulGood Law & Order]] [[LawfulNeutral vs]] [[LawfulEvil Oppression]] : It all depends on if you agree with the law or not.
** Rebellion vs Revolution: It all depends on who wins. If the government wins, it was only a rebellion. If the not-government wins, it is a revolution.
** Education vs Brainwashing
** [[YourTerroristsAreOurFreedomFighters Freedom fighting vs Terrorism]]
* Hard work vs Natural talent.
* Depth vs Complexity
* [[IntolerableTolerance Tolerance vs Intolerance]]
* Call it, HeadsOrTails? *flips coin* Whups, [[HeadsTailsEdge looks like it landed on the edge]].
* Conspiracy theorists frequently commit this. Either you accept that their conspiracy is true, or you're a mindless sheep who believes whatever the establishment says. [[SarcasmMode Obviously, it's impossible for one to believe the establishment lies sometimes, but they happened to be telling the truth this one particular time.]]
** Even this is a false dichotomy, as some of the most outlandish conspiracy theories (such as reptoids secretly controlling the earth via the Illuminati) can be rejected by someone who believes the establishment is always lying.
* {{Political Correctness|GoneMad}} vs UnfortunateImplications. Implies that anyone who criticizes PC thought must be a racist/sexist/homophobic/bigot of some form, and conversely implies that anyone who is ever offended by anything or tries to raise a discussion about whether something is offensive is an overly sensitive PC person trying to censor everybody.
* People tend to treat [[StrawVulcan reason]] and [[StrawmanEmotional emotion]] as [[RomanticismVersusEnlightenment mutually exclusive]].
* Abused by anti-vaccine advocates. Either vaccines are completely safe or they are too dangerous to use. Cost-benefit analysis is rarely used. Ignoring medical cost-benefit analysis is often abused in more sensationalist media coverage. For example, hysterical news articles about how Ritalin (or many other drugs, usually psychiatric ones) may be damaging the patients prescribed it in some vague, undefined way, or pointing out some of the nastier potential side effects, and calling for its use to be stopped on that basis... while ignoring that for at least some patients, these short term side effects or potential long term risks do not outweigh the benefits of the drug for them.
* Left wing politics vs. right wing politics.
* "The world is better off without some people" vs. "Killing is always wrong."
* Pro-life vs. Pro-choice. A substantial amount of pro-lifers, [[http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/peopleevents/e_church.html including the Catholic church]], would allow abortion for extenuating circumstances, such as if the mother is at risk of death from childbirth or the pill if it's needed to control an irregular cycle. Some are also not opposed to contraception, which is preventing conception from occurring (such as condoms), while abortion is post-conception. Inversely, many pro-choicers have no problem with a woman not aborting her fetus, they merely have a problem with it being presented as the ''only'' option.
[[/folder]]

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