The Blind Men And The Elephant Is A Stupid Metaphor

We’ve all heard this metaphor before. It’s used at a metaphor for all sorts of things. Normally, religion, but I recently saw it used for business processes and best practices.

It goes like this: six blind men are all on a different part of an elephant. They can’t see, so they go by feeling. One man is at the elephant’s trunk. Because that’s all he can feel, he assumes that the elephant is a trunk. Another man is at the tail. He assumes the elephant is nothing but a tail. The same goes through the other parts, head, back, underside, and if you want to get really crude, reproductive organs. That last part may be appropriate for discussing politics.

Then the person using the analogy comes back to something like “so you see, each man only has one part of the elephant, but not the whole. So if you look at <religion> <business> <rap music> <etc> in the same way, you can see they’re all correct, but they only have one part of the whole elephant.”

No, they’re not. Are we assuming that all of the blind men (6 or 8 depending on the person using this metaphor) are so freaking stupid they can’t move their hands beyond the small part being used? I’ve known blind people, and none of them were that stupid.

That’s why this stupid metaphor has never worked for me. And when I hear somebody use it, I assume that person is stupid enough to hold an elephant’s tail and believe that to be the entire elephant, even if his buddy is at the trunk or the dick and claiming that is the elephant; then they argue about it.