Reasoning from Analogy

Thinking from Analogy or Reasoning from Analogy is any type of thinking that is based upon an analogy.

It is how most of us make decisions in our day to day like when faced upon with new challenges. When a challenge arises we turn to all our previous experiences that is similar to a particular challenge and use a modified version of the solution we used in the past to solve the new challenge.

In other words, we use accepted similarity between the two circumstances to support the notion that there is a futher similarity between the two (this futher similarity might the similarity between their solutions).

The past challenge is our analogy. Because the new challenge is similar to the one from the past, we reason strategically that a version of the solution could work for the present as well.

In thinking from analogy we can use not only our experiences, but other people’s experience as well. In a way most of innovations we see today has come from analogy based thinking.

As the name suggests, you are trying to reason some thing based on comparisons and conceptual models that might be partially correct, flawed or outright wrong.

This type of reasoning is not based on objective evidence but on anecdotal evidence. Most often the anecdotal evidence might be from a secondary or a tertiary source.

There are few ways to think about this:

  • I know that Idea A works. I know the idea A works because of the presence of the quirk “X” in it. So I assume if I add the quirk “X” to Idea B, Idea B should also work flawlessly.
  • I have heard Idea A works because of quirk “X”. On blind faith I try “X” on Idea B and it also works. Now I have anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of “X”. So I proceed to add quirk “X” to idea C with the expectation that it will work.

Reasoning from Analogy is what we do it most of the shared beliefs we have, as the effect is much clearer if you think about how superstitions work.

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