The Limits Of Reasoning By Analogy

remember the wayfair thing? that was wild.

The Limits Of Reasoning By Analogy
this wasn't from wayfair, this was from ikea

Thinking about people's colloquial religious beliefs, I find myself reminded somewhat of one of the many mutations of Pizzagate:the idea that online furniture retailer Wayfair is trafficking missing children by means of overpriced cabinets that share the kid’s names. One doesn’t want to immediately do down the idea that there are conspiracies around child abuse, particularly given that we've just been discussing major religious institutions, but this, in kind with the primary Pizzagate conspiracy, trips on the simple “what if someone orders pizza from this pizza restaurant/furniture from this furniture retailer” stumbling block.

Many of the allegedly missing kids weren’t missing (some understandably reacted badly to the claim they were) and it seems like the person who initially suggested it was “"involved in a local organization that helps victims of human trafficking," which has led her to be 'suspicious most of the time now.'”, which seems like a case of hammers, nails, and an overactive imagination. It’s certainly very interesting that this is the thing people’s minds jump to, and it seems so intuitive, in a very particular way. You don’t have to go to Carcosa, you can order the kids straight to your home with the Deliveroo of noncing[1].

These sorts of conspiracies are absolutely dependent on people having a certain kind of colloquial, analogical understanding of how the world works, rather than thinking about logistics. It’s obviously funny, but it’s interesting and illustrative of a particular line of thought that I think a lot of people end up following. Notably, if you try to think “what would have to be in place for this to actually happen”, it starts to fall apart a bit, but a lot of folk don't really seem to get there. One thing that really explicated this style of thought for me was the Parapod, a podcast where one guy believes in ghosts and another guy doesn’t and they squabble about it for an hour or so at a time; very entertaining but if you listen closely to Barry's arguments—which are obviously going to be somewhat more vague, a lot of it is him getting drawn in by an emotive story which makes emotional or narrative sense, while completely ignoring certain practical issues. Reasoning by analogy is useful but at some point you have to try and think about the mechanics of the thing.

  1. I guess even the Yellow King was worried about corona. Adrenochrome won’t save you from everything. ↩︎