Logical Gal and False Analogies

5 Feb

I heard a great example of a false analogy today.  The discussion between an atheist and a Christian centered on whether or not there was an afterlife.

The atheist asserted:

“The likelihood of there being a heaven or hell is  as probable as my chance of spotting a unicorn or winning the lottery.  It ain’t going to happen!” 

So what’s a False Analogy?  It’s more properly called a WEAK analogy.  Analogies are neither true nor false.  They range and fall out on a continuum of being helpful……..all the way to what you might call ‘stretching it’!  Equivocal terms often strip them of any validity.

Consider this description that I just made up:

Students are like leaky containers – you pour into both of them and very little sticks!

What this statement assumes is that because students and leaky containers share ONE attribute (they are both empty of something), they are similar in other areas, too!

In that case as well as in the picture below, the differences are far more important.

Often people make the claim that all religions are basically the same because they all teach The Golden Rule:

While it is true that they may all hold out kindness as a virtue, what makes them DIFFER, one from each other,  is far more important.

Let’s revisit my example at the top regarding the likelihood of an afterlife.  In searching an apt comparison as an illustration, the one man tried to link unicorn sightings to lottery winnings. He claimed that the chance of winning the lottery was akin to the number of occasions he might spot a unicorn.  But the analogy is completely weak because there ARE lottery winners.  Contrariwise, unicorns have NEVER been spotted.

So the next time someone attempts to lay a False or Weak Analogy on you, just ask him or her to explain it to you.  In all likelihood, they won’t be able to. Many people just ‘spout’ and assert without really thinking about what they are saying.

Question: What is an example of this False Analogy Fallacy that YOU have encountered?

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