I think it's fair to say that I've been trying to combat binary thinking ever since I first fell down the rabbit hole and arrived in PoFoland in 2008, although I wasn't introduced to it's description as such until fairly recently.
In my line of work (mental health) we talk about 'black & white', or, 'all or nothing', thinking, but it's the same thing.
Our world is too complex for us to understand it completely, or perhaps even substantially, so in pretty much all aspects of our lives we unconsciously try to simplify it. We can all come to a substantial (though never truly complete) understanding of particular, relatively small parts of our world, but no-one can grasp the whole thing. So for example, to choose something hopefully non-contentious, if you're interested in cars you will see other cars as you drive along rather differently from someone who is not interested in cars. You are both exposed to the same data entering your brain, but your brains will interpret that data differently. As I drive along (or more commonly ride, as although I like cars I prefer motorcycles) I see Ford, Citroen, Audi, VW...ooohh look! a Ferrari! (
), whereas in contrast someone else just sees 'a red one'.
There's nothing we can do about it, per se
...other than to recognise the phenomenon and wherever possible allow for it. I envy my wife, who is very 'green-fingered' and knows her flora and fauna, so when I look out onto the countryside (thankfully we live in the countryside) all I see is blobs of green stuff, whereas she sees hawthorn, blackthorn, cedar, cherry, primrose, briar rose, bramble etc, etc. Her experience of our environment is therefore richer and more rewarding than mine, but like every other human's, my brain is full of other stuff and I don't have the time or the capacity to start painstakingly learning a whole new body of knowledge. But at least I know and acknowledge what I don't know.
However in politics in particular, binary thought is toxic and dangerous, particularly if we allow ourselves to believe that what we don't know doesn't matter or isn't worth knowing.
But politics actually encourages that kind of thinking. Anthropology shows us that however much we have learned over millennia to moderate, modify and control the instincts that helped our pre-human forbears evolve into modern humans, the strength of those core instincts has been undiminished and the tribal instinct is strong. One of the best ways to galvanise, motivate and unify one's own tribe is to have a clear 'enemy' tribe, because in tandem with our group, tribal instinct is each individual's own survival instinct. So in politics, if you don't think like 'us'...you must be 'one of them' (the enemy).
To reprise, "There's nothing we can do about it,
per se...other than to recognise the phenomenon and wherever possible allow for it. "
Unfortunately, for no less complex reasons, we generally don't allow for it because most people don't - or won't - recognise it. As I said, the reasons are complex but one reason is because of how our 'democracies' are arranged. Both the US and the UK political systems are binary by design- you can choose between Republican or Democrat, we can choose between Conservative or Labour. Both systems create an illusion of multi-party democracy and have a host of minor parties, but ultimately (save from the very occasional hung parliament in our case) it will come down to that old, mythical chestnut - a choice between 'left' or 'right'.
The psychological power of that is so great that anyone swept up and bewitched by either of the dominant ideologies will believe that the left-right divide is no myth, but a universal and eternal truth.
But it's neither universal or eternal. It's a cognitive convenience used to simplify the bewlidering complexities of human interaction and coexistence or, as I've heard it called elsewhere, 'lazy shorthand' to determine into which box one places an 'x'.