How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest IdeasBook - 2014
When we decide to blow the whistle, spill the beans, take a rain check, or get the hell out of Dodge, we're using analogies whose original meanings rarely enter out consciousness. But beneath their surface, all of them convey a complex network of ideas that shape our thinking in analogous situations. Unfortunately, not every analogy that rings true is true.
Do neighboring countries really topple like dominoes? Is DNA evidence the fingerprint of the twenty-first century? Is the marketplace a true battlefield? And do 'three-strikes laws,' modeled after baseball, actually ensure justice, or do they simply fill up our prisons with shoplifters and potheads? Surprisingly, most of us don't realize just how often analogies slip in under the radar to mislead or deceive - often with serious consequences.
But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater, because analogy also plays a catalytic role in the discovery and spread of good ideas. Loose coins gave Johannes Gutenberg the idea for movable type. Meatpacking plants inspired Henry Ford's first moving assembly line. And the 'bicycle for the mind' that Steve Jobs first envisioned as a friendly Mac not only democratized computing but ushered in the information age. Such breakthroughs are no coincidence; since the dawn of history, human progress has always been fueled by out analogical instinct.
In Shortcut , former presidential speechwriter John Pollack reveals just how pervasive analogies really are, and how powerful. He also explains how to evaluate the 'truth' of any analogy and explores why people who hone their ability with analogy become more creative, more persuasive, and more likely to achieve their goals. For those of us who need to explain, innovate, persuade, or sell, this book - rich with stories and insights- - should change the way we perceive out world and our ability to shape it.
Advance Praise for Shortcut
'John Pollack is the William Safire of his generation. In Shortcut , he blends his encyclopedic knowledge, hard earned experience in politics, and deep love of words to craft a book that consistently rewards the reader with keen insights into the wonders of how language shapes our thinking.' Jake Siewert, Global Head of Communications for Goldman Sachs
'As a historian, I have been professionally trained not to use analogies. But as John Pollack demonstrates in this eye-opening, mind-blowing, puzzle-solving book, comparisons and analogies infuse our thinking, infect our decisions, and inflect our efforts at persuasion. Once you lower your guard to Pollack's clever forays, you will never undervalue the power of analogical reasoning again - or ignore the risks of using comparisons too sloppily.' Jack Rakove, Professor of History and Political Science at Stanford University, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
'In the battle for public opinion, the best analogy usually wins. Shortcut shows us how - and why. It makes you think before you speak, literally. This is a great book, particularly for people who care about communicating effectively.' Loretta Ucelli, White House Communications Director for President Bill Clinton
'Like a hot knife through warm butter, Pollack's clean prose cuts to the heart of the matter- we communicate, think, learn, and discover through analogies. Filled with captivating and entertaining examples, from falling apples to toppling dominos, the book teaches us how to best use analogies to win hearts, convince minds, and just have fun. Sure to float your boat.'
Scott Page, Director of the Center for Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan
'Pollack takes us on a fascinating journey through the shortcuts of the mind, revealing the immense power of analogy as a psychological device affecting our lives in