I recently came across some old-ish work in analogical reasoning that tickled my brain about priming during experiments. What concerns me is the quality of conclusions reached by the research and how we might improve our experimental methods in studying analogical reasoning, especially as it pertains to design. References are at the end of this post.
Bear with me; we need to set things up first.
In a 1945 paper, Duncker offered the following scenario.
Suppose you are a doctor faced with a patient who has a malignant tumor in his stomach. It is impossible to operate on the patient, but unless the tumor is destroyed, the patient will die. There is a kind of ray that can be used to destroy the tumor. If the rays reach the tumor all at once at a sufficiently high intensity, the tumor will be destroyed. Unfortunately, at this intensity, the healthy tissue that the rays pass through on the way to the tumor will also be destroyed. At lower intensities, the rays are harmless to healthy tissue, but they will not affect the tumor either. What type of procedure might be used to destroy the tumor with the rays and at the same time avoid destroying the healthy tissue?