Accused of a fallacy? Suspect a fallacy? Ask Dr. Bo and the community!

Quickly register to comment, ask and respond to questions, and get FREE access to our passive online course on cognitive biases!
Register!

one moment please...



Weak Analogy

(also known as: bad analogy, false analogy, faulty analogy, questionable analogy, argument from spurious similarity, false metaphor)

Description: When an analogy is used to prove or disprove an argument, but the analogy is too dissimilar to be effective, that is, it is unlike the argument more than it is like the argument.

Logical Form:

X is like Y.

Y has property P.

Therefore, X has property P.

(but X really is not too much like Y)

Example #1:

Not believing in the literal resurrection of Jesus because the Bible has errors and contradictions, is like denying that the Titanic sank because eye-witnesses did not agree if the ship broke in half before or after it sank.

Explanation: This is an actual analogy used by, I am sorry to say, one of my favorite Christian debaters (one who usually seems to value reason and logic).  There are several problems with this analogy, including:

  • The Titanic sank in recent history
  • We know for a fact that the testimonies we have are of eye-witnesses
  • We have physical evidence of the sunken Titanic

Example #2:

Believing in the literal resurrection of Jesus is like believing in the literal existence of zombies.

Explanation: This is a common analogy used by some atheists who argue against Christianity.  It is a weak analogy because:

  • Jesus was said to be alive not just undead
  • If God is assumed, then God had a reason to bring Jesus (himself) back—no such reason exists for zombies
  • Zombies eat brains, Jesus did not (as far as we know)

Exception: It is important to note that analogies cannot be “faulty” or “correct”, and even calling them “good” or “bad” is not as accurate as referring to them as either “weak” or “strong”.  The use of an analogy is an argument in itself, the strength of which is very subjective.  What is weak to one person, is strong to another.

Tip: Analogies are very useful, powerful, and persuasive ways to communicate ideas.  Use them -- just make them strong.

References:

Luckhardt, C. G., & Bechtel, W. (1994). How to Do Things with Logic. Psychology Press.



Registered User Comments


Become a Logical Fallacy Master. Choose Your Poison.

Logically Fallacious is one of the most comprehensive collections of logical fallacies with all original examples and easy to understand descriptions; perfect for educators, debaters, or anyone who wants to improve his or her reasoning skills.

Get the book, Logically Fallacious by Bo Bennett, PhD by selecting one of the following options:


Not Much of a Reader? No Problem!

Enroll in the Mastering Logical Fallacies Online Course. Over 10 hours of video and interactive learning. Go beyond the book!

Enroll in the Fallacy-A-Day Passive Course. Sit back and learn fallacies the easy way—in just a few minutes per day, via e-mail delivery.

Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.


About Archieboy Holdings, LLC. Privacy Policy Other Books Written by Bo
 Copyright 2017, Archieboy Holdings, LLC.