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The Weak Analogy Fallacy: Definition & Examples Video

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  • 0:00 What Is a Weak Analogy?
  • 1:54 Examples
  • 3:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to identify a weak analogy and how to create a few of your own. We'll also look at a several examples of what to avoid when making analogies.

What Is A Weak Analogy?

Let's do a little experiment. Pick any two objects and consider what they may have in common. Can you think of anything? Maybe they're both the same color, the same shape or size, or of a similar hardness or softness. If you look hard enough you can often find a similarity between two things, though it may not mean very much about the relationship between them. In fact, the connection or relationship between the two things may be quite weak and lead to a flawed argument known as a weak analogy.

A weak analogy occurs when a person draws a comparison between two concepts, situations, or things to link them together in an argument, even though the connection between the two is not strong enough to make the case. It's a type of fallacy or flaw that can damage an argument. For instance, let's say you want to argue that apples and oranges taste the same because they are both fruits and are similar in size. It doesn't matter if apples and oranges share a few similar characteristics, both types of fruit taste entirely different.

Sometimes described as a false analogy or a faulty analogy, the weak analogy makes a case by relying too heavily on irrelevant similarities without acknowledging that two concepts, things, or situations may be quite distinct from one another in a more relevant way. As such, the qualities you're comparing, like the physical appearance of apples and oranges, provide us with no information about how they taste.

Since it's easy to identify what two items or ideas have in common, you'll probably be able to come up with statements that use this fallacy with relative ease. Just like the apples and oranges comparison, you can probably find a way to make any two beliefs relate to each other. The ease by which you can find connections between two things illustrates why it's not an effective and logical way to draw conclusions.

Examples

Let's look at some examples of weak analogies that focus too heavily on the commonalities between what they are comparing and not enough on the elements that make a difference to the argument.

  • If you're not afraid of haunted houses, you shouldn't be afraid of dark alleys. Both are creepy and dimly lit and have the potential for someone to jump out at you.

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