Posted by – June 13, 2009

Is an analogy of the form “real thing X is like hypothetical thing Y” good or bad if you can tell what X is just from Y? On one hand it feels like it doesn’t really add anything, but it’s surely a very accurate comparison.

This is roughly the equivalent [to] going to a job interview and the company saying, you have a great résumé, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we’re not going to hire you. We will, however, use your résumé as the basis for comparison for all other applicants. But we’re going to hire somebody who is far less qualified and is probably an alcoholic. And if he doesn’t work out, we’ll hire somebody else, but still not you. In fact, we will never hire you. But we will call you from time to time to complain about the person that we hired.

For some reason this topic really inspires people on the Internet.

Suppose I sent a letter to several hundred charitable organizations that said: “Hello, I have $10,000 to contribute to one worthwhile, charitable cause. I will donate this money this year. Here is my address and my phone number. Please call me or write me, and tell me why your charity deserves my money more than all the others.” Then suppose I ignored all the initial replies and only paid attention to the organizations that hit me up more than twice. Of these, I selected the few that were the most persistent, and I finally gave my money to the most aggressive, in-your-face charity. Soon I would discover that this charity spends 95% of its contributions on fund-raising. I would then call up one of the “nice” charities and tell them my sob story about how I gave my big contribution to the “jerk” charity.

Or maybe it’s just my reading habits.

Ps. “Baldrick, do you even know what an analogy is?” “Yeah… it’s like irony, only it’s made out of analog.”

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