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apples vs. oranges

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/30/2010 at 09:25
Dale Clifford View Drop Down
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Apples and Oranges -- A Comparison

by Scott A. Sandford, NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California

We have all been present at discussions (or arguments) in which one of the combatants attempts

to clarify or strengthen a point by comparing the subject at hand with another item or situation

more familiar to the audience or opponent. More often than not, this stratagem instantly results in

the protest that "you're comparing apples and oranges!" This is generally perceived as being a

telling blow to the analogy, since it is generally understood that apples and oranges cannot be

compared. However, after being the recipient of just such an accusation, it occurred to me that

there are several problems with dismissing analogies with the comparing apples and oranges

defense.

First, the statement that something is like comparing apples and oranges is a kind of analogy

itself. That is, denigrating an analogy by accusing it of comparing apples and oranges is, in and

of itself, comparing apples and oranges. More importantly, it is not difficult to demonstrate that

apples and oranges can, in fact, be compared (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Granny Smith Apple and Sunkist Orange

Materials and Methods

Both samples were prepared by gently desiccating them in a convection oven at low temperature

over the course of several days. The dried samples were then mixed with potassium bromide and

ground in a small ball-bearing mill for two minutes. One hundred milligrams of each of the

resulting powders were then pressed into a circular pellet having a diameter of 1 cm and a

thickness of approximately 1 mm. Spectra were taken at a resolution of 1 cm-1 using a Nicolet

740 FTIR spectrometer. Figure 2 shows a comparison of the 4000-400 cm-1 (2.5-25 mm)

infrared transmission spectra of a Granny Smith apple and a Sunkist Navel orange.

Figure. 2 (swfa would not load picture -- but spectra was the same--dc)

Conclusions

Not only was this comparison easy to make, but it is apparent from the figure that apples and

oranges are very similar. Thus, it would appear that the comparing apples and oranges defense

should no longer be considered valid. This is a somewhat startling revelation. It can be

anticipated to have a dramatic effect on the strategies used in arguments and discussions in the

future.

NOTE: This article is included in the book The Best of Annals of Improbable Research

© Copyright 1995 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/30/2010 at 10:11
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Comparing that test to our usage here is like comparing apples to.........pears
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/30/2010 at 17:46
Ed Connelly View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/30/2010 at 20:11
helo18 View Drop Down
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hmmm, might have to memorize that.
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