you probably overrate that which you love

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.


BertBlyleven Angels 500

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

SigmundFreud Surrealists 1000

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.