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ANALOGY (Abuse of) 3)

A number of serious abuses of analogy have been registered in the use of cybernetic and systemic models, generally by neophytes carried away by their initial enthousiasm for a methodology which seemed to them to promise grand solutions to intractable problems.

Obvious examples are the illusion of rigid control by regulators of mechanist types in biological, economic and social systems; some "catastrophic" (no pun!) models of behavior in social systems and, more recently some misunderstandings about chaotic models.

A subtler case can be found in J. FORRESTER's "World Dynamics" as it was applied in the famous first Club of Rome Report. This outstanding piece of work suffers from an excessive rigidity due to the presence of numerous cybernetic loops whose simultaneity in action is never considered (C. FRAN-COIS, 1977). In J.W. SUTHERLAND words: "… both human beings and the collectivities they form would have to be considered "dynamic, goal seeking systems that change their environment and are not merely passive victims of it" (F. GEORGE, 1970, p.21) and, if this is the case, then "the simple servoanalogy breaks down, as does our ability to collapse all relevant behavioral determinants into a simple, fabricative state-variable" (1973, p.124)

In any case K. BOULDING expressed: "If analogy is dangerous and leads to the development of untrue systems, the remedy is not to throw it overboard altogether, for there are situations in which no other method of systems development is open to use. The remedy for false analogy is not no analogy, but true analogy. This involves the development of a critique of analogy and a theory of simulation… It is… one of the principal concerns of the general systems enterprise" (1974, p.36)

3) epistemology, ontology and semantics

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