You CAN Compare Apples and Oranges

Another entertaining piece of faux science from the Annals of Improbable Research site, this one from no less a source than the NASA Ames Research Center.

"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!" ... it is not difficult to demonstrate that apples and oranges can, in fact, be compared."

And they proceed to do just that, complete with a mass spectrometer analysis of the two fruit.

With a dry smile, the author concludes that their telling findings: "can be anticipated to have a dramatic effect on the strategies used in arguments and discussions in the future."

Thanks to Tom Murphy, both for the link and for reminding me of the fun to be had browsing the AIR archives.