False Opposition to an Analogy – sidetracking

Analogies; how they are useful, and false responses to them.

An analogy compares two things, and can sometimes open our minds to new ideas. If you don’t think an analogy is a fair comparison for the purpose it is used, it does not cease to be an analogy. You have to do more than say “They are not the same thing” or ‘That is not an analogy”; You have to look at the ways in which they are similar, and stay to the reason the analogy is being used in the first place.


X: Your attack on religion can be compared to saying a lame person should not use a cane.

Y: That is not an analogy

X: Actually it is, because it is comparing two things

Y: It’s not because God is not a stick

X: 1. Finding a difference between two things that are being compared does not mean the comparison ceases to be an analogy.

2. I did not say God is a stick. I am saying religion is sometimes something that people in despair can “lean on” so to speak, to enable them to keep going rather than give up. I am not claiming it is the best or only way. I am not talking about any other similarity between religion and a walking stick. People using religion may not be as smart as you; they may not have the options you have; they may be in a much tougher situation than you can imagine. All I am saying is religion does actually help some people to cope. I am saying it might be unkind to ridicule people on the basis of what they use to get through hard times.

Y: You are an imbecile

X: We are not discussing what I am. I am saying there is a similarity between ridiculing people who use religion, and ridiculing people who use walking sticks. I am suggesting you broaden your idea of what is represented by the idea of “leaning on” something. If can see a similarity think about it IF you are interested in being less unkind. If you see no similarity or just don’t care, I have no more to say to you on this point, except to observe you are not personally an example of someone who appears able to better themselves without some kind of spiritual understanding.

An analogy of this kind of attack on an analogy:

S (scientist): Light is like a wave

Y: That is not an analogy

S: Yes it is because it is comparing two things

Y: No it isn’t because waves need water, and light doesn’t

S: I am not saying light is like the waves you have in mind, I am suggesting you broaden your idea of what “wave” represents.

Y: You are an embecile. That isn’t an analogy.

S: We can think of light as being made up of particles we call photons.
Y: You said light is waves, now you are saying it is particles. You are stupid because it can’t be both.

S: I did not say it is either. We learn something by comparing it with waves, and something else by comparing it with waves.


By understanding how to respond to analogies, we learn how to learn. By simply pointing to the ways in which the analogies DON’T compare, we construct a learning disability.

By confusing an attack on our point of view with an attack on ourselves personally, we set up a wall against positive change and mind-broadening. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a threat.


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