Decision-Making Warning Flag 1b – Weak Analogies

StrategyDriven Decision Making Article | Decision-Making Warning Flag 1b - Weak Analogies“The fallacy of Weak analogy is committed when a conclusion is based on an insufficient, poor, or inadequate analogy. The analogy offered as evidence is faulty because it is irrelevant; the claimed similarity is superficial or unrelated to the issue at stake in the argument. Or the analogy may be relevant to some extent yet overlooks or ignores significant dissimilarities between the analogs.”

Paul Leclerc
Community College of Rhode Island

Citizens have been asked to cast their vote for a referendum requiring those seeking to purchase a hammer to undergo a registration process similar to that for firearms. Supporters argue that because hammers, like guns, have metal parts and can be used to kill people that these tools should be legally controlled as guns are. These proponents are using a Weak Analogy to advance their position.

Weak analogies are used to support business decisions every day. As with all logic errors, decision-makers fall prey to the appearance of reasonableness, especially when the position supported justifies their desired course of action. Although difficult, recognizing and eliminating the use of Weak Analogies in decision-making is absolutely necessary.


Hi there! Gain access to this article with a StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription or buy access to the article itself.

Subscribe to the StrategyDriven Insights Library

Sign-up now for your StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription for as low as $15 / month (paid annually).

Not sure? Click here to learn more.

Buy the Article

Don’t need a subscription? Buy access to Decision-Making Warning Flag 1b – Weak Analogies for just $2!

Additional Information

Additional insight to the warning signs, causes, and results of logic errors can be found in the StrategyDriven website feature: Decision-Making Warning Flag 1 – Logic Fallacies Introduction.

Decision-Making Warning Flag 1a – The Gambler’s Fallacy

StrategyDriven Decision-Making Article | Decision-Making Warning Flag 1a - The Gambler's Fallacy“The Gambler’s Fallacy, also known as the Monte Carlo Fallacy, is the false belief that the probability of an event in a random sequence is dependent on preceding events, its probability increasing with each successive occasion on which it fails to occur.”

Gambler’s Fallacy
Wikipedia

Seated at a roulette table, a gambler must decide on what color to place his next bet, red or black. He knows there is a 50 percent chance of getting either red or black and that the first four spins of the wheel yielded all reds. The gambler reasons that because half of all spins should result in black and the first four were red, it is more likely the fifth spin of the roulette wheel will be black and places his bet. While his logic appears reasonable, the roulette player has just fallen victim to the Gambler’s Fallacy.

Circumstances like this one are not limited to gamblers; they plague executives and managers in the business world every day. Decision-makers are victimized by the Gambler’s Fallacy because, like all logic errors, it appears reasonable and typically justifies the desired course of action. Recognizing the Gambler’s Fallacy is therefore difficult but necessary.

The Gambler’s Fallacy logic error occurs when a decision-maker incorrectly believes the probability of an independent event is in some way influenced by preceding occurrences. In the roulette example, the player wrongly assumed the first four results would influence the outcome of the fifth spin. Prior to the five spins, the likelihood of spinning five consecutive reds is calculated as:

Underlying Facts:

  • Possible Outcomes: Red or Black
  • Outcome Distribution: Equal number of Red and Black opportunities
  • Probability of Spinning Red: 50 percent
  • Probability of Spinning Black: 50 percent

Calculations:

  • First Spin is Red: 50 percent
  • First and Second Spins are Red: (50 percent) x (50 percent) = 25 percent
  • First, Second, and Third Spins are Red: (50 percent) x (50 percent) x (50 percent) = 12.5 percent
  • First, Second, Third, and Fourth Spins are Red: (50 percent) x (50 percent) x (50 percent) x (50 percent) = 6.25 percent
  • First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Spins are Red: (50 percent) x (50 percent) x (50 percent) x (50 percent) x (50 percent) = 3.125 percent

Therefore, prior to the first spin of the roulette wheel the change of realizing a Red outcome five consecutive times is a mere 3.125 percent. However, because each spin is an independent event, not in any way influenced by the preceding outcomes, the chance of spinning Red on the fifth attempt having already spun four consecutive Reds is one in two or 50 percent. As long as the game is fair, it will always be 50 percent!

Recognizing the Gambler’s Fallacy

Logic errors are often difficult to recognize, the Gambler’s Fallacy being no exception. Questions decision-makers should consider in order to avoid the Gambler’s Fallacy include:

  • Was logic applied to support the desired decision option rather than independently identify the best option?
  • Has the decision’s logic been aggressively challenged, preferably by the team’s Devil’s Advocate or a disinterested third party?
  • Was an event’s outcome prediction influenced by preceding events, especially if the event occurs independently?
  • Was an event’s independence thoroughly assessed or naturally assumed?
  • Were the event’s independence and the probability of its outcome calculated by an individual or group having in-depth knowledge and experience of statistics?

Additional Information

Additional insight to the warning signs, causes, and results of logic errors can be found in the StrategyDriven website feature: Decision-Making Warning Flag 1 – Logic Fallacies Introduction.

Business Politics Players – Influential Strength of Each Personal Power

StrategyDriven Business Politics Players Article | Influential Strength of Each Personal Power | Business PoliticsSome personal power is organizationally bestowed. Others are self-earned. Each is effective when wielded in the proper place and time. Yet the absolute degree of influence each power differs greatly, dependent on the value offered which is further influenced by the circumstances surrounding the power’s use.


Hi there! Gain access to this article with a StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription or buy access to the article itself.

Subscribe to the StrategyDriven Insights Library

Sign-up now for your StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription for as low as $15 / month (paid annually).

Not sure? Click here to learn more.

Buy the Article

Don’t need a subscription? Buy access to Business Politics Players – Influential Strength of Each Personal Power for just $2!

Business Politics Lessons Learned – Who Hired You and What About the Person You Actually Work For?

StrategyDriven Business Politics Lessons Learned Article | Who Hired You and What About the Person You Actually Work For?Landing the best jobs is often about who you know; from referrals to outright hires. But what happens when who you know is not the hiring manager?… Business Politics!


Hi there! Gain access to this article with a StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription or buy access to the article itself.

Subscribe to the StrategyDriven Insights Library

Sign-up now for your StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription for as low as $15 / month (paid annually).

Not sure? Click here to learn more.

Buy the Article

Don’t need a subscription? Buy access to Business Politics Lessons Learned – Who Hired You and What About the Person You Actually Work For? for just $2!

Decision-Making Warning Flag 2 – The Silent Nod

StrategyDriven Decision Making Article | Silent NodAll too often it is not clear to executives and managers that they are in a decision-making situation. In many of these instances, they find themselves attending a briefing during which the presenter makes a recommendation for which he or she is seeking approval. As the presentation goes on, the briefing attendees listen attentively and nod silently. No verbal decision is communicated but the nodding continues. At the end of the presentation, the presenter is songs adulated for making a thorough presentation and providing an insightful recommendation. There is applause. Exiting the meeting, the presenter remembers the affirmative statements and, most importantly the silent nods. These now become the unintended affirmative decision the presenter sought and the leaders failed to recognize they were making.


Hi there! Gain access to this article with a StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription or buy access to the article itself.

Subscribe to the StrategyDriven Insights Library

Sign-up now for your StrategyDriven Insights Library – Total Access subscription for as low as $15 / month (paid annually).

Not sure? Click here to learn more.

Buy the Article

Don’t need a subscription? Buy access to Decision-Making Warning Flag 2 – The Silent Nod for just $2!