you probably overrate that which you love

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

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.




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