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Decision Makers' Use of False Analogies Causing Miscalculation and War
Unformatted Document Text:  Horan 3 quick and informed action. It also allows policy makers to justify action to the public. Despite the important of analogies as justification, the role analogies play as informational tools that define policy is central in uncovering miscalculation. Previous literature on the use of past events as analogies to current situations believes this reasoning is inherently flawed. However, without learning from past events, leaders would act slower and continue to make the same mistakes. Balancing between taking lessons from the past and thinking only of the past is the challenge for decision makers. This paper uses previous research to understand the influence of analogical reasoning on miscalculation affecting decisions previous to war. To study analogies, one must know what they are. An analogy compares two or more things that resemble each other in one or more aspects. When using an analogy, one makes an inference that if two objects both have some characteristics in common then they must have other similar aspects as well. Decision makers use analogies when a current situation resembles a historical event. To make quick and informed decisions about the present, leaders learn from the mistakes made in the past. The resulting policies then reflect these lessons from history. Preferences and prior experiences also influence how decision makers decide which information or previous event is relevant in the existing circumstance. These factors determine which analogy one chooses to use. These influences create biases against or towards analogies through focusing on certain characteristics and not others. As a result, decision makers may choose a “false” analogy. With the influence this analogy has on policy, the leader may reach inapplicable conclusions about how to handle the current situation based on lessons from the past. Miscalculation of the capabilities and intentions of the present adversary result from comparing this event with the past. This miscalculation results in an offensive action causing war.

Authors: Horan, Elizabeth.
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Horan 3
quick and informed action. It also allows policy makers to justify action to the public. Despite
the important of analogies as justification, the role analogies play as informational tools that
define policy is central in uncovering miscalculation. Previous literature on the use of past
events as analogies to current situations believes this reasoning is inherently flawed. However,
without learning from past events, leaders would act slower and continue to make the same
mistakes. Balancing between taking lessons from the past and thinking only of the past is the
challenge for decision makers. This paper uses previous research to understand the influence of
analogical reasoning on miscalculation affecting decisions previous to war.
To study analogies, one must know what they are. An analogy compares two or more things
that resemble each other in one or more aspects. When using an analogy, one makes an
inference that if two objects both have some characteristics in common then they must have
other similar aspects as well. Decision makers use analogies when a current situation resembles
a historical event. To make quick and informed decisions about the present, leaders learn from
the mistakes made in the past. The resulting policies then reflect these lessons from history.
Preferences and prior experiences also influence how decision makers decide which information
or previous event is relevant in the existing circumstance. These factors determine which
analogy one chooses to use. These influences create biases against or towards analogies through
focusing on certain characteristics and not others. As a result, decision makers may choose a
“false” analogy. With the influence this analogy has on policy, the leader may reach
inapplicable conclusions about how to handle the current situation based on lessons from the
past. Miscalculation of the capabilities and intentions of the present adversary result from
comparing this event with the past. This miscalculation results in an offensive action causing
war.


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