My curiosity about allegedly “motivational” commercials yesterday led me to a few other discoveries and renewed interest in the whole issue of motivation. I believe that it is condescending and hurtful, if not downright rude, to tell an apparent underachiever to pay closer attention, to try harder, to “just do it.” People are usually motivated to want to achieve success. If they are unable to do this, there is probably a reason. Adding a sense of guilt to their perception of failure merely contributes to more confusion, resentment, or refusal to participate.
This motivational tape is a case in point. (It is also a promotional ad for a series of business products.) Apart from the false analogy and the manipulative misuse of statistics, there is considerable hectoring and shaming… if you do not win, it is your own fault. The winners are those who give that extra degree of effort. Anyone, everyone, can do it! Anyone who can’t is not trying hard enough… and look at the costs!
I dropped my regular appointments with a chiropractor who had actually been quite helpful after I heard his motivational spiel, also based on a false analogy, one time too many. I hate these mechanical analogies. My body is not a machine that needs a regular tune-up. Going for a monthly appointment is not like taking my car in for an oil change.
To explain a false analogy I turned, of course, to Wikipedia. Wiki is never my only source of information, but it is the one I use most often in my blog because it is at my fingertips, already typed on my computer in a form I can quote and edit, and universally respected. Among other things it says that
Several factors affect the strength of the argument from analogy:
- The relevance of the known similarities to the similarity inferred in the conclusion.
- The amount and variety of the examples in the analogy.
- The number of characteristics that the things being compared share.
An argument from analogy is weakened if it is inadequate in any of the above respects. I think that this one fails in all three categories! It is a specious argument, but undoubtedly appealing to those who work in “human resources” (shudder) and want a catchy presentation for a staff or board meeting.
I did have fun with the topic though… steam power: in the early industrial revolution, in locomotive travel and the opening of several continents to settlement and exploitation by European colonial powers, even central heating in our homes.
Do you remember banging and whistling radiators that had to “be bled” regularly to maximize their efficiency, those wonderful old rads that graced the most elegant parlors…with a slab of marble on top and a dying fern. In the bathroom you could warm both the bath towels and your pajamas on the old steam rads.
Which brings me to another aspect of steam heat, that wonderful song from The Pajama Game. I could not find Doris Day performing it, but here are two other treasures. The first is an interesting dance routine, choreographed by Bob Fosse for the Broadway show.
My favourite, though, is this recording by Patti Page.
I am resisting the urge to research what the climatologists are predicting about global warming and one more degree! Enough time at the computer for to-day.
No, I am going to finish reading Leviathan, a truly authentic steampunk YA novel.
What do you do to let off steam?