Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tornado in a Junkyard : An Example of an Error in Analogy

We often use analogies to drive a point, specially if we want to convince someone of an idea. If the agenda comes first, it often ends up in the peril of the one who wants to convince others. Let me give an example:
Someone who wants to argue that life in the cosmos must not have arisen spontaneously used the analogy that a tornado in a junkyard would never be able to assemble a 747 jet. Truly a visceral analogy, but sadly flawed, and silly to support its "agenda". It may have failed in the details of the idea it was trying to debunk: Natural Selection takes much much longer than a fleeting tornado, and the steps of evolution are many and not just one tornado swoosh. Also the tornado in the junkyard is pure chance, while natural selection is a combination of random and order: combinations of features in organisms are retained in the next generation because the parent survived (of course).
So there's an "analogical error" that occurs when an "agenda" comes first prior to formulating an analogy. This is what I want to avoid.
Central to "archetyping" is to stumble upon the meaning from an observed pattern before a "conclusion" is made. No agendas. "Archetyping" is meant to simply find meaning from patterns - to uncover the "message" from the archetypes without bias. And all the while, careful thought is given to details to avoid errors in analogy, metaphors, abstractions and paradigms.
I have written this post not only to remind and caution myself from such errors, but also to slowly solidify the concepts behind the idea of Archetyper.com - an exciting journey to uncover some awesome wonderful Truth.

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