Tea, Coffee, or a Poke in the Eye?

I came across this rather amusing list of reasons why stone tablets are the ideal text medium. Unshockingly, it’s a satire of the debate over whether paper or electronic books are better; and it does that well. However, I disagree with the articles assertion that the debate is settled.

Human minds are pattern-seeking. Which means one of the things they do almost instinctively is compare things to other things, seeking similarity and difference. We are wired to rank things. Which means debates over whether two things that aren’t just versions of the same thing (such as print media and e-books) will never be utterly settled, because there isn’t a single measure of their “bestness”.

However, the issue isn’t just a desire to rank things. We also tend to view the fact the things have been compared as evidence there is reason to compare them. To see this in action, imagine telling your significant other (or equivalently valued person), “I love you more than being poked in both eyes with a stick.”

Did you imagine it ending with them being completely touched that you love them? Or at least slightly concerned you think there might be a question whether or not you loved them more than suffering ocular assault?

I can state with almost certainty that no-one gets married to someone as a backup if being blinded falls through; so my suggested phrase is a correct comparison. Yet it probably doesn’t feel like one, even after you intellectually assure yourself it is.

Under what circumstances would being poked in both eyes with a stick be your preferred option?


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