2 min read

Analogies suck

Stop using them.
Analogies suck
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

"Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."

Analogies are great for one thing and one thing only: making complex ideas easier to understand. But when it comes to arguments, analogies will have you believe that the person saying them actually knows what they are talking about, but this belief is based only on random similarities.

It's like every time someone wants to make a point in an argument, they reach into their analogy toolbox and pull out the most overused and clichéd comparison they can find. And for what? To distract from the fact that they have no actual evidence to back up their argument?

But probably the worst part about analogies is that they don't actually prove anything. Let me give you an example. Let's say you're arguing with someone about the merits of functional programming. You present them with countless studies and evidence that show how FP can lead to cleaner, more modular code that's easier to maintain. And they hit you with something along the lines of "Well, using functional programming is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole."

Are you kidding me? How is that even remotely relevant? The fact that using FP may not always be the best solution for a given problem doesn't prove anything about the overall merits of FP as a programming paradigm. It's a completely meaningless comparison that distracts from the actual argument at hand.

And let's be real here, analogies are often made by gravely misrepresenting proportions. People love to compare apples to oranges as if they're the same damn thing. Newsflash: they're not. And don't even get me started on the people who try to use analogies to justify their ridiculous opinions. "Oh, well if we allow self-driving cars, it's like letting robots take over the world." NO. JUST NO.


Some random patterns of truths that you rely on in an analogy do not translate to the original topic's truthiness automatically!

So, my advice to you is this: next time someone tries to use an analogy to prove their point, call them out on it. Don't let them get away with distracting you from the actual argument. And if you find yourself tempted to use an analogy, just don't. Stick to the facts and the evidence, and you'll actually have a chance of winning the argument.