The Wrong Analogy
April 22, 2013 by eclectic24
A young woman and her father had gone for a drive when they were caught in a sudden thunderstorm .
” What should I do ?” , she asked her father .
” Keep driving ” he told her.
The rain increased in intensity and cars began to pull over to the side of the road.
The young lady again asked her dad what she should do .
” Just keep driving”, he replied.
They continued on their way but the rain was coming down in buckets ; even eighteen wheelers were pulling over.
” This is terrible. I can barely see the road . I’m going to pull over “, she told her father.
The father was adamant. ” Don’t give up ; just keep driving”, he said.
She followed his advice and , sure enough , in just a few minutes , the rain tapered off and the sun came out.
” Now you can pull over “, her father told her.
” Why now ?” , she asked him .
” Because if you get out and look back , you’ll see that the people who gave up and pulled over are still caught in the storm . Just because others give up , you don’t have to. Keep going and soon the hard times will be over and the sun will shine on you once again.”
This fable , at first glance , appears to be a nice teaching story. A little thought , however , shows that it is a wrong analogy being used to make the point.
I speak from first hand experience .
Many years ago , we were vacationing in Florida when we got caught in just such a storm . One moment, it was bright and sunny ; the next moment the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour. It rained so hard that our windshield wipers just could not keep up . Visiblity for all purposes was zero. Gingerly , blindly , we eased over to the side of the road.
The good thing about these tropical thunder showers is that they don’t last all that long. In five minutes, the rain stopped as if a tap had been turned off , the sun came out and it was difficult to believe that it had rained at all. Had we tried to drive through the rain , we might very well have caused an accident .
Another personal experience…
We were driving home from Pennsylvania and were caught up in a sudden squall. The sound of the rain hitting the car was loud and a little unusual and we realized that it was not rain, but hail. All the other cars and tractor trailers were taking shelter under overpasses and we quickly followed suit. I remembered how , in Oklahoma, the hail is sometimes almost the size of golf balls and it causes dents and depressions in the bodies of cars unlucky enough to get caught in a hailstorm. The hail we encountered was much smaller but , until we found shelter , I was worried that it might crack the windshield. To have driven through the hail would have been just plain foolish.
Very often , I see that wrong analogies are used to try to make a point . A prime example is the comparison between balancing the federal budget and managing household finances. Those who argue that the federal budget must be cut to the bone liken the situation to a family cutting back on spending to make ends meet. It is not a valid comparison. True , a family tries to cut out unnecessary spending but it also tries to earn more money perhaps by moonlighting. Borrowing money and getting deeper in debt is not a good idea for a family but deficit spending by the government is sometimes necessary to stimulate the economy . That’s what FDR did to get us out of the Great Depression . And before anyone says the Second World War had a lot to do with rescuing us from hard times , I’ll remind them that Herbert Hoover’s earlier belt-tightening didn’t work ; it was FDR and his policies that did. If you are going to advocate a certain course of action , give me facts , not wrong analogies.