Learning To Learn: Embrace Analogies

Why do analogies work so well? They're building blocks for our thoughts, written in the associative language of our brains.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://betterexplained.com/articles/learning-to-learn-embrace-analogies/

I would agree. As a public speaker, a simple analogy sets up the next idea and an whole new analogy. I have combined them, i.e. lashed the logs together and put wheels on them. BTW I consider a hypothetical analogy of an imaginary senario as good as a real event analogy. (If your listeners can grasp it)

Thanks Dennis – totally agree. Analogies and stories were part of the human oral tradition for thousands of years.

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@Josie: Thanks, glad it helped! Interesting question, I don’t really consider analogies “better” (is a hammer better than a screwdriver?) but rather, one is more useful in certain situations than another. An analogy that works on multiple rivers might be heavier / harder to understand up front than a smaller one that “gets the job done quickly”.

I’m so glad this site exists. Even your analogy for analogies made things clearer for me. I have a question, though: do you consider analogies that can be taken further, or used to cross more than one river, “better” than analogies that only take you across one?

Thanks Joe – James, there’s some more background on imaginary numbers here: http://betterexplained.com/articles/a-visual-intuitive-guide-to-imaginary-numbers/

As Joe mentioned, (0,0) is where they two axes meet (at the origin) and is a bit like saying “0 degrees longitude, 0 degrees latitude”.

You can think of the real/imaginary axes behaving like an ordinary x-y setup–real numbers on the x-axis, imaginary on the y. They meet at (0,0), just like on the xy plane.

Terminology-wise, the ‘real’ number axis and the ‘imaginary’ number axis together form the ‘complex plane,’ and in a manner of speaking, all numbers can be thought of as ‘complex:’ a real part plus an imaginary part. (0,0) would correspond to 0 + 0i, or just 0. (1,3) would be 1 + 3i, and so on. There is an excellent in-depth explanation elsewhere on this site if you’re interested.

Where would the axis of Imaginary and Real numbers meet, and what “kind” of number would be at (0,0)?