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Explaining things in terms of other things

This is an argument I actually had with my brother.  Our sister-in-law said she knew what Fritos were and she was familiar with Doritos but didn't know what Cheetos were.  I offered that Cheetos were kinda like Doritos but...Here my brother burst in and tells me I am out of my mind and that Cheetos and Doritos are entirely different.  I agreed they were, in fact different (different shape, slightly different cheese mixtures) but they were also similar (both crunchy snacks based on corn and cheddar cheese) and that I was using Doritos as a starting point to explain to a person who had experience with Doritos, the nature of Cheetos.

Other people in the room agreed I was out of my mind and that the two are entirely different.

I realize this is off topic but explanations of this sort are relevant to computers (somehow, aren't they) but I basically am looking for a reality check from a group of, more or less, logical people who have previously shown a willingness to comment on just about anything- quick before this topic gets deleted!

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, March 08, 2004

What time zone are you in? I've only just started on my second beer...

Philo

Philo
Monday, March 08, 2004

Not the first analogy that would have come to my mind, but sure.  I would have used the term "Cheesy Poofs". I think dorito's accurately describes the fake cheese aspect but is vastly different from the shape/texture.

Elephant
Monday, March 08, 2004

Central Time Zone.  Which time zone are you in that you are drinking already?

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, March 08, 2004

Do you think "poofs" evokes crunchy cheetos?

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, March 08, 2004

You can define common attributes, such as:

Cheetos and Doritos are both snacks you'd find in similar packaging and pricing ranges.

Both follow the "?????tos" naming scheme.

Both are salty snacks (as opposed to sugary).

Both make incredibly noisy crunches.

Both have cheesy tastes (subcategory of salty?)


Then you define attributes where they differ:

Cheetos are poofy, Doritos are flat.

Cheetos are the stereotypical programmer diet (along with Mountain Dew), Doritos has no such association.

Cheetos taste somewhat different from Doritos.

So tell everyone in the room that they're crazy.  Almost everything can be related.  You can even use the phrase "comparing apples and oranges" by doing:

Apples and oranges are both fruit, so we can compare them!

pds
Monday, March 08, 2004

I've read, without proof, that humans respond to analogies better than to direct explanations, so if your analogies were a starting point then there was no problem with them.  No analogy is exactly like the analogous thing, so don't be defensive.  Just compare and contrast ( and keep it to 250 words or less ).

Barry Sperling
Monday, March 08, 2004

Yeah I want cheesy-poofs!

Cheesy poofs, cheesy-poofs, I like cheesy-poofs.  If we didn't eat Cheesy Poofs, we'd be lame!

anon
Monday, March 08, 2004

I would have said they are like packing foam peanuts, except made out of addictive, artificially cheesy, anti-Atkins, carbohydrate goodness.

What was this thread about again?

Nick
Monday, March 08, 2004

Analogies have a tendency of falling apart, be careful.

If the basis of an analogy is shaky you risk alienating the listener.  Worse, if they consider the issue differently than you - for instance if the listener didn't think of cheesy Doritos and was instead thinking of Ranch flavored Doritos - you'll have to fight them the entire way and probably fail to bring them to understanding.

Lou
Monday, March 08, 2004

Think of an unabridged dictionary.

A book, whose whole purpose is to define all the words, using only other words.  There is some starting set of knowledge required to use a dictionary.

In your case, there is a starting set of knowledge, and that, however unimaginable, is knowing what a "Dorito" is.

Dignified
Monday, March 08, 2004

a dorito is several grams of corn meal pressed into the shape of a triange and fried in partially hydrogenated vegatable oil and then dusted with artificial cheez particles and salt.

pdq
Monday, March 08, 2004

Don't forget that there are new crunchy Cheetos which are less poofy and more crunchy.

Clutch Cargo
Monday, March 08, 2004

PDQ- actually there is the rub- Doritos, it turns out, are made with corn, Cheetos with corn meal...excellent definition though. I guess I could have avoided the whole argument if I had just told her to check them out at 7-11

name withheld out of cowardice
Monday, March 08, 2004

Actually, I've found an amazingly large number of people that have serious trouble following an analogy, even people that I (previously) thought were pretty intelligent.  Many of them tend to think that I am speaking only about the specific example I am mentioning at the time, even though I specifically say "It's like..." throughout the discussion.

Then again, there are people who think that the book "Winning through Intimidation" is a book on how to sell real estate.

Aaron F Stanton
Monday, March 08, 2004

I think (since you are asking) it was possibly a bad analogy. The only reason I could see for this analogy was if she has actually knew what a dorito was, but had never heard of the term 'potatoe chips'.

What is a cheeto?
Well it is belongs in the 'chips' section of the supermarket...

I think the starting point needs to  be as broad as possible, or else she would get so hung up on the dorito idea she would never be able to comprehend the cheeto idea...."but wait, doritos aren't round, I'm confused..."


NB. the other guys in the car were just argumentative doofuses.

Aussie Chick
Monday, March 08, 2004

Actually we weren't in a car.  This was at a one-year-old's birthday party.  What is "NB"?

The consensus seems to be that jumping down my throat was uncalled for but that Doritos is not a good starting point for a Cheetos definition.  Fair enough.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

People who take an analogy at face value and can't see the generality have been called "frame dependent" and are often poor learners.  Frame independent people see the point and can move on.  I don't know if frame dependency is genetic or repairable.
  On another note, NB stands for "note bene", I think, and means "note well" or "this is important".

Barry Sperling
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Hmm. So what ypu are suggesting is...

          .
          .
          .
  ---------------
  | Cheesy Snack  |
  ---------------
          ^
        /_\
          |
    ______|_______
__|____        __|___
|Dorito |      |Cheeto|
-------        ------

?


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Your brother was probably thinking of Ranch flavored Doritos, so the whole 'made of corn and cheese flavored' thing went whooshing right past him.

I guess you could have said Cheetos are a cross between Doritos and packing peanuts (i.e. crunchy like the former but shaped somewhat like the latter), with the cheese sauce powder from a box of macaroni & cheese thrown in.

That said, how could your sister-in-law not know about Cheetos' cheesy crunchy goodness? Has she been living under a rock?

Mmm... the vending machine is calling out to me. Damn you all.

Martha
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Martha-

Possible explanations- she is Canadian and maybe they don't have Cheetos up there (or maybe they call them something else), or she group up rich and privileged and Cheetos were for the servants while she and here family prefered more aristocratic snacks like Cool Ranch Doritos and Ho-Hos.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Technically, tennis is an advanced form a Ping-Pong. In fact, tennis is Ping-Pong played while standing on the table. In fact, all racket games are nothing more the derivatives of Ping-Pong. Even volleyball is, technically, racketless, team Ping-Pong played with an inflated ball and raised net while standing on the table.

George Carlin
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Up in Canada we have the world famous crunchy cheese snack "Cheezies" made with real Canadian chedder.

Of course we have doritos, cheetos and other assorted cheese-puff-like snacks :-)

DJ
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

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