How Analogies Can Make You Better at Arguments - Deepstash

An analogy is a comparison that asserts a parallel between two distinct things, based on the perception of a shared property.

Analogies appear in metaphors, similes, political slogans, legal arguments, marketing taglines, mathematical formulas, biblical parables, logos, TV ads, euphemisms, proverbs, fables, and sports clichés.

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An analogy is a tool

Analogies are arguments that operate unnoticed. Like icebergs, they conceal most of their mass and power beneath the surface.

Analogies are also used in innovation and decision making. For instance, the "bicycle for the mind” that Steve Jobs envisioned as a Macintosh computer.

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Using analogies help us to communicate effectively. For example, Warren Buffett noted "You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out,” meaning when times are bad, hidden weaknesses are exposed.

Lack of awareness of an analogy's influence can come at a cost. The ability to construct a good analogy can help you reach your outcomes.

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Analogies frame situations

Effective, persuasive analogies frame situations and arguments.

Like picture frames, conceptual frames include ideas, images and emotions and exclude others. It can be used for better or worse, and influence the direction of the thinking of all parties.

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When we deconstruct analogies, we find out why they function so effectively.

Analogies meet five criteria:

  • Use the highly familiar to explain something less familiar.
  • Highlight similarities and obscure differences.
  • Identify useful abstractions.
  • Tell a coherent story. The narrative need not be accurate. It is the feeling and ideas the analogy evokes that makes it powerful.
  • Resonate emotionally.

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A good analogy serves as an intellectual springboard that helps us jump to conclusions. It is efficient if the findings are likely to be correct, and can save time and effort.

However, if the analogy is misleading, we are likely not to notice. Assumptions reinforce our preconceptions and preferences, known as confirmation bias. All statements should be considered and evaluated, even if they confirm the beliefs we currently hold.

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