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Oregon Advocates College 3

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1 Oregon Advocates College 3
October 31, 2012 Session 2: Metaphors, Analogies and Simplifying Models Patrick Bresette - .

2 Metaphors, Analogies and Simplifying Models

3 Metaphors and Analogies
The dictionary defines a "metaphor" as a figure of speech that uses one thing to mean another and makes a comparison between the two. "All the world's a stage” An analogy expresses similarity between things that might seem different. It can be a logical argument: if two things are alike in some ways, they are alike in some other ways as well. “Having ADD is like wearing a hearing aid on all five senses.”

4 ARGUMENT IS WAR Your claims are indefensible.
He attacked every weak point in my argument. His criticisms were right on target. I demolished his argument. I've never won an argument with him. You disagree? Okay, shoot! He shot down all of my arguments. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument--attack, defense, counter-attack, etc.---reflects this. . . the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; its structures the actions we perform in arguing. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently. Lakoff & Johnson 1980

5 TIME IS MONEY You're wasting my time. This gadget will save you hours. I don't have the time to give you. How do you spend your time these days? That flat tire cost me an hour. I've invested a lot of time in her. I don't have enough time to spare for that. You're running out of time. You need to budget your time. Is that worth your while? Do you have much time left? He's living on I borrowed time. You don't use your time, profitably. I lost a lot of time when I got sick. Thank you for your time. Time in our culture is a valuable commodity. Because of the way that the concept of work has developed in modern Western culture, where work is typically associated with the time it takes and time is precisely quantified, it has become customary to pay people by the hour, week, or year. In our culture TIME IS MONEY in many ways: telephone message units, hourly wages, hotel room rates, yearly budgets, interest on loans, and paying your debt to society by "serving time." These practices are relatively new in the history of the human race, and by no means do they exist in all cultures. The very systematicity that allows us to comprehend one aspect of a concept in terms terms of another (e.g., comprehending an aspect of arguing in terms of battle) will necessarily hide other aspects of the concept. In allowing us to focus on one aspect of a concept (e.g., the battling aspects of arguing), metaphorical concept can keep us from focusing on other aspects of the concept that are inconsistent with that metaphor. For example, in the midst of a heated argument, when we are intent on attacking our opponent's position and defending our own, we may lose sight of the cooperative aspects of arguing. Someone who is arguing with you can be viewed as giving you his time, a valuable commodity, in an effort at mutual understanding. But when we are preoccupied with the battle aspects, we often lose sight of the cooperative aspects. Lakoff & Johnson 1980


7 Extended Metaphor Extended metaphors “[serve] most aptly to ingrain the lively images of things, and to present them under deep shadows to the contemplation of the mind, wherein wit and judgement take pleasure, and the remembrance receives a longer lasting impression.” While a simple metaphor “may be compared to a star in respect of beauty, brightness and direction,” an extended metaphor may be “fully likened to a figure compounded of many stars … which we may call a constellation.” No wonder this figure is so widely used. Who wouldn’t want to have their words achieve the impact and longevity of heavenly images like the Big Dipper or Orion?  Joe Romm quoting from the Elizabethan era book The Garden of Eloquence by Henry Peacham

8 Birth Death Rebirth The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Birth Death Rebirth

9 Analogies in Health Having schizophrenia is like viewing life through a kaleidoscope. It is hard to put the pieces together and they keep changing. ( Having ADD is like wearing a hearing aid on all five senses. You hear the people talking, the clinking of the glasses and the plates. (The Holiday Husband: Helping Your ADD Spouse Concentrate on the Season) Alzheimer's disease is like a cat burglar. It slips into a person's life without making a sound, and soon treasured possessions start disappearing: memory, personality and independence. (Chris Woolston, CONSUMER HEALTH INTERACTIVE)

10 Metaphors are cues to the cultural models we all use to make sense of a complex world. We make sense of “new” information by calling up familiar images and experiences for context. This is “relational” thinking and is central to human cognition. (Holyoke and Thagard 1997)

11 Why Wetlands Matter Wetlands benefit us all. Wetlands act as a filter for the waters of our lakes, rivers and streams. Wetlands improve the water we drink, and the air we breathe. Wetlands act like giant sponges. They soak up rain and snowmelt as they occur, serving as temporary storage basins, thus reducing erosion, and limiting the destruction caused by severe floods . . .

12 I confess to a prejudice
I confess to a prejudice. I believe that Cities are the most important single unit of human society.  They are to human beings what beehives are to bees.  Human beings are fundamentally community beings No other level of government has to face so directly the reality of how well we or poorly we work as a human community.  We are bound together.  The municipal leader knows it, and sees it. Pragmatism, Prophecy, and Prayer - The Rev. B. P. Campbell, Virginia Municipal League, Prayer Breakfast, 24 October 2005

13 Mechanisms for Understanding
“. . . people typically rely on analogies in order to learn complex, abstract concepts. These concrete analogies are simplifying models - they help people organize information into a clear picture in their heads, including facts and ideas that they have been exposed to, but never been able to put together in a coherent way . . .” - cultural logic

14 Ozone Depletion Think back about the ozone depletion debate in mid 1980s Remember: Reagan made it about personal responsibility: needed hats and sunscreen.

15 Ozone Depletion like a “Hole in the Roof”
Early descriptions: reduction, thinning, depletion, degradation When changed the description/analogy to “hole in a roof” : sunscreen and hats clearly ridiculous…policies implemented CFC reduction.

16 Simplifying Model Explaining shifting weather patterns, including arctic chill in Europe and snowstorms in the deep south: Scientists’ theories describe “…a strong pressure difference between the polar region and the middle latitudes channels the jet stream into a tight circle, or vortex, around the North Pole, effectively containing the frigid air at the top of the world.” “It’s like a fence.” - Michelle L’Heureux Gillis, J. (2011, January 24). Cold jumps arctic 'fence,’ stoking winter's fury. The New York Times.

17 The “radioactive toxic brew acts like ketchup”
Simplifying Model Hanford Nuclear Reservation is moving radioactive waste 7 miles from waste tanks to treatment plant. The waste is a non-Newtonian liquid and doesn’t follow the laws of gravity and motion. At first you have to pump hard to get the waste moving, then less hard to keep the same speed. The “radioactive toxic brew acts like ketchup” King, A. (2011, April 27). Questions remain about piping Hanford’s nuclear waste. NPR, Retrieved from


19 Assessing the Strength of Simplifying Models
What Does it Explain? Does it Drive Constructive Thinking? Does it Offer a “Common Sense” Alternative to Dominant Models?

20 Favorite Metaphors or Analogies?
What are they “explaining” or what understanding do they distill?

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