On analogies

Analogies work for improving yours or someone else’s basic understanding of a subject. However, they fail quickly, especially when you take the analogy too far. If I wanted to describe a marshmallow, I might describe it as being soft like a pillow.” The resemblance stops there. I can’t even try to make the analogy more accurate by comparing all of the characteristics of a pillow to a marshmallow. For one, in more complex matters than marshmallows, the analogy quickly turns into a case of imagination rather than fact. A pillow and a marshmallow are both soft, and the analogy serves to illustrate that one characteristic well. If I also want to describe how a marshmallow tastes, I’d use another example rather than force the pillow analogy to demonstrate all aspects. Simplifying things for other people to understand better is risky business, so pay attention to how you use these comparisons. I would recommend you use them sparingly. Find ways to simplify the thing itself rather than compare it to something of similar complexity that you already understand.