THIS MORNING, the question on Quora was, “Who is the most overrated music star of all time?” Rather than answer the question—which I don’t believe can be answered to everyone’s satisfaction—I addressed the assumptions of the question itself.
My answer is indented below between the images of Bert Blyleven (with the ball) and Sigmund Freud (with the cigar). Oh, and I took a potshot at the answers to the question that had already been posted on Quora.
Subjective responses to stimuli
The terms overrated and underrated can actually be objective: many persons (for example, movie and music stars) or phenomena (for example, prog rock and Freudian psychoanalysis) are thought of highly and overrated at the time they are new or ‘happening’ but are later seen in a lesser (and more realistic) light. This is rather common and probably occurs in most cultures at most times.
As for underrating things, Bill James and the field of sabermetrics in baseball showed us that many players played their entire careers at All-Star or even Hall of Fame levels and were not recognized by their peers. For example, Bert Blyleven was seen as a competent journeyman pitcher while active but eventually recognized as a great pitcher and was, after a lengthy wait, inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Popular music is filled with extraordinarily creative men and women who struggle to pay the bills while alive but are elevated to the Pantheon of Rock Deities posthumously. For example, Gene Clark and Nick Drake.
You probably overrate that which you love while you probably underrate that which you hate.
Unfortunately, most people seem to equate overrating and underrating something with loving and hating something. The latter terms are purely subjective responses to stimuli and vary with every individual person on the planet. For example, many people love (and probably overrate) Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, while I hate (and therefore underrate) that flavor.
On the other hand, I am in a distinct minority in that I love Laphroaig whiskey (the 10-year-old, not the 15), which I acknowledge is not an easily acquired taste.
A rule-of-thumb for each person might be that you probably overrate that which you love, while you probably underrate that which you hate.
Overrating something or someone is usually harmless but can lead to disappointment, while underrating something or someone can deprive you of something that is valuable—or worse: it can make you confidently express sophomoric opinions in public.
This applies not only to ice cream and single malt scotches but also to movie and music stars. For example, just read some of the answers to your question here on Quora …You probably overrate that which you love while you probably underrate that which you hate. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: The painting at the top of this page was found accompanying the article “Everything you need to know about Freud to understand art” by Diana Garrido on the Cultura Colectiva website. I could not find a credit for the artist.