Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Hyperbolic Reasoning Cycle

When making a comparison, especially between social ills, in any context outside of a poem, be sure to put it in the form of a simile, not a metaphor, and give a clear explanation of the points of comparison. For example: "Apples are like/similar to oranges in that they are roundish seed-bearing fruits"; not: "Apples are basically oranges."

I believe that this is the root of a legitimate problem people have with uses of terms like "rape culture" and "white supremacist society," even though I agree 100% with the sentiment behind those particular terms and uses. They work like metaphors instead of similes, telling people that, e.g., an entire society is in essence the same as a rapey frat, rather than is like a rapey frat in that it promotes misogyny, etc.

Another example is "Hillary is basically a Republican." Probably, someone originally said that as a metaphor, and in simile form would have said, "Hillary is like a Republican in that she voted for the Iraq War (or whatever)." The problem is that the metaphor form creates a backlash, which is replied to by other people attempting to support it as stated, such that they end up arguing in defense of an absurdity.

I think of this as a hyperbolic reasoning cycle.

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