Numbers

How are apples and oranges supposed to be compared? Possible answers involve, but are not limited to, statistics, chemistry, physics, linguistics, and philosophy.


Comparing unlike objects usually comes down to using a scoring system of sorts. So it is that teachers in school grade essays, adjudicators in jazz festivals evaluate performances, and judges in Iron Chef America score dishes. For my part, I will attempt to use a scoring system of my own to compare apples and oranges. Judges in Iron Chef America score chefs’ dishes based on taste, plating, and originality. In a similar vein, I will score apples and oranges based on taste, appearance, and texture, awarding up to 10 points in each category.

An apple, with its satisfying sweetness, bright redness, and rigid crunchiness, receives an 8 in taste, 8 in appearance, and 5 in texture, for a total of 21 points. An orange, with its iconic tanginess, dimpled skin, and juicy pulpiness, earns a 9 in taste, a 6 in appearance, and a 9 in texture, for a total of 24 points.

A rubric demands that there is one of three outcomes: apples are better than oranges, oranges are better than apples, or they are equals. Given the higher score of the orange, one could logically conclude that oranges are better than apples or at the very least that I like oranges more than apples. Yet I cannot say that this is true. There are times when I would prefer to have...

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