List of analogies

Some analogies I encounter really stick with me, and I keep coming back to them. Here are a few that I can remember; I’ll add more as I recognize more that I truly like.

This is Peter Thiel, comparing sensational journalism to terrorism(!):

Terrorism is obviously a charged analogy, but it’s like terrorism in that you’re trying to be gratuitously meaner and more sensational than the next person, like a terrorist who is trying to stand out and shock people. It becomes this unhealthy dynamic where it just becomes about shocking people. On the other hand, it’s an interesting theoretical question, whether, if Valleywag went away, something else would fill in to replace it.

My other favorite, that of comparing educational institutions to the Catholic church, is also by Thiel.

People thought they could only get saved by going to the Catholic church, just like people today believe that salvation involves getting a college diploma. And if you don’t get a college diploma that you’re going to go to hell.

[…]

The reform will come from outside the system and the question people always have is, ‘What does the next education system look like? What will it be?’ And I think, like what happened to the Catholic church post 1500, I think there isn’t going to be a single new institution that will replace it. And this, of course, was the disturbing message of the 16th century was, the institution wasn’t going to save you. You have to figure out how to save yourself. And in a similar way there’s no education institution that will save you. Young people have to figure it out on your own. And that is the last thing anybody wants to hear.

Here’s bloggers as illegal immigrants, by George Borjas, and extended to its natural conclusion by Bryan Caplan. Below I quote Caplan as quoted in the linked Open Borders post.

I’ve previously chastised Borjas for failing to do what economists do best: go “beyond the obvious losers of trade to all of the less-obvious – but equally human – winners.” But now he’s making things too easy for me. Let’s see, besides the obvious losses to journalists, who gains from blogging?

  1. Consumers of news
  2. Bloggers!

If Borjas had written this post for a newsletter for journalists, I could at least understand why he might expect a receptive audience. By why on earth would blog readers find this a persuasive anti-immigration argument? Frankly, Borjas has produced a great argument in favor of immigration: If shutting down the blogosphere to protect journalists is crazy, so is keeping out illegal immigrants to protect low-skilled workers.