Let’s first examine what it means in statistical terms. Say, for example, we are evaluating employees on parameters such as; sales, customer approval ratings, and manager’s ratings. But, sales are calculated in dollars, customer approval ratings on Likert’s scale, and manager’s ratings have a maximum score of 40. If we don’t convert these ratings into standard scores, we will end up comparing apples to oranges. So, to convert these scores into a standard score, we first subtract mean score from it. Then we divide the remainder by standard deviation. The result is a standard score, also called the z-score.
Now, let’s draw our attention to Biology. Both of them are fruits, but apples are sweet and oranges are citrus. While apples belong to Rosaceae family, oranges belong to Rutaceae. The genus of apples is Malus that of oranges is Citrus. Apples can be red, green or yellow; oranges are always orange in colour. Whereas, apples have Vitamin E, oranges have Vitamin C. Also, apples have just 73 IU of Vitamin E, oranges have 269 IU. Varieties of apple include; gala; fuji; granny smith; red delicious; braeburn; pink lady; and golden delicious. The varieties of oranges include; navel oranges; Persian oranges; blood oranges; Valencia orange; and Mandarin orange.
One would least expect a peer reviewed published study comparing apples to orange, but it exists. His study was a breakthrough in the comparison of apples to oranges. This study clearly demonstrated that apples and oranges are not only comparable, but they are indeed quite similar. Therefore, the study recommends that the slogan, “Let’s not compare apples with oranges” should be replaced by “Let’s not compare walnuts with elephants” or maybe “Let’s not compare tumor necrosis factor with linguini”.
According to one view point, the comparison of apples to oranges is an analogy in itself. “That is, denigrating an analogy by accusing it of comparing apples and oranges is, in and of itself, comparing apples and oranges”. They believe that it is not difficult to demonstrate that apples and oranges can in fact be compared.
In their study, sample of both were prepared by gently desiccating them in a convection oven at low temperature for several days. They then mixed the dried samples with potassium bromide and ground them in a small ball-bearing mill for two minutes. They then took 100mg of powder from each of them was pressed into a circular pellet of the diameter of 1cm and thickness of approximately 1mm. They then used the infrared transmission spectra of both the fruits.
They concluded that the comparison was easy to make. Also the spectra figure from both the fruits was very similar. Therefore, they concluded that comparing apples and oranges argument shouldn’t be considered as valid. Therefore, they anticipate having significant impact on the strategies used in arguments and discussion in the future.
Barone, James E. "Comparing apples and oranges: a randomised prospective study." British Medical Journal (2000): 1569.
diffen.com. Comparison chart. n.d. 02 03 2014 <http://www.diffen.com/difference/Apples_vs_Oranges>.
FitzGerald, John. How to Compare Apples and Oranges. n.d. <http://www.actualanalysis.com/zscore1.htm>.
Sandford, Scott A. Apples and Oranges -- A Comparison. n.d. 03 03 2014 <http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume1/v1i3/air-1-3-apples.html>.