Comparing apples and oranges: a randomised prospective study

For many years the comparison of apples and oranges was thought to be impossible. Many authors use the analogy of the putative inability to compare apples and oranges as a means of scornfully reviewing the work of others. The titles of some recent publications1,2 suggest an actual comparison of apples and oranges, but the authors do not, in fact, compare these two fruits. Our laboratory has been interested in this problem for many years. We attempted numerous pilot studies (unpublished data) but had not accomplished a true comparison until now. At last, successful comparison of apples and oranges has been achieved and is the subject of this report.

Methods And Results
We investigated many different varieties of apples and oranges in pilot studies; for this study, however, red delicious apples were compared with navel oranges. A total of 12 objects (6 apples, 6 oranges) made up the experimental population. Measurements were performed using a standard tape measure (Pseudoscientific Instruments, Lodi, NJ). Weight was recorded to the nearest tenth of a gram using a scale. Sweetness was quantified by the Licker scale (1=kind of sweet; 2=sweet; 3=very sweet; 4=really very sweet). Statistical calculations were performed using FudgeStat (Hypercrunch Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA) on an Apple Macintosh 8500 computer (Apple Computer Inc, Cupertino, CA). No significance should be inferred from the type of computer used, nor was any bias introduced because of this. Six oranges and five apples survived the experiment. (Before the study was completed, the author’s 12 year old son, Thomas, inadvertently consumed one of the objects, an apple.) Non-parametric background comparisons are shown in table ​table1.1. A striking and heretofore unappreciated similarity was noted. In only one category, that of “involvement of Johnny Appleseed,” was a statistically significant difference between the two fruits found.

Read the rest. There are graphs.

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