Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Why do we compare?

Each day, we compare, whether relevant or not. Some recent blog examples: Is stupidity worse than evil?? and Natural Stupidity vs Artificial Intelligence and inclusivity vs honesty. Without that Big Think article, I would not even have considered a comparison between evil and stupidity.

Another example: the almost daily drownings of immigrants, aiming to cross the English Channel by small boats. In their view, life in the UK is better than Africa or Europe. Death by drowning was not part of that comparison.

Why do we compare things that cannot be compared? It’s like the saying: comparing apples with oranges. Their only similarity is that both are fruit. Their taste cannot be compared. So, why do we bother to compare?

Wiki: “A comparison of apples and oranges occurs when two items or groups of items are compared that cannot be practically compared, typically because of inherent, fundamental or qualitative differences between the items.”

Our irrelevant comparisons are often like a hyperbole, “the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech.” Hence, our use of irrelevant comparisons must serve a different purpose.

My initial hunch is that we view irrelevant comparisons as “relevant” to strengthen a certain choice or decision. I suppose that we know – deep down – that we fool ourselves by using such comparisons.

There’s a special category of comparisons, we prefer not to talk about (eg, guilt & shame, regret & remorse). Either consciously or subconsciously, we compare an object (eg, house) or a subject (eg, current partner) with its ideal version.

I noticed an interesting answer to the Quora question why do we compare everything: “Because we are never satisfied with what we have no matter what.” This answer agreed with my subsequent thinking. Note: URL in quote by LO.

Another Quora answer stated: “[] we compare basically to establish the fact that something is more or less than another.” In other words: we must rank our priorities (ie, by comparing) in order to make a choice.

Latter might be the default answer that applies in most situations. The non-default situations are listed above.

“The first man to compare the cheeks of a young woman to a rose was obviously a poet; the first to repeat it was possibly an idiot.”

A quote by Salvador Dali (1904-1989), a Spanish surrealist artist

Apples And Oranges (2023) by Jenny Lewis
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-artist, Wiki-album+song

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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