In yet another in its ongoing series of idiotic cover stories, Newsweek has a big spread on the newsy topic of which was greater, Lincoln or Darwin? See, the two were born on the same day, February 12, 1809 (not even this week!), so the journalist thought it would be a good idea to compare them. The story presents them as two revolutionaries (which Lincoln wasn’t), but it just doesn’t make sense. That’s because you can only compare two things of the same kind. Two scientists would work (Darwin or Einstein?), or two statesmen (Lincoln or Washington?). But mixed comparisons (Einstein or Washington?) just don’t work!
As the saying goes, you can’t compare apples and oranges. Actually, you CAN compare apples and oranges since they are both fruits, and, as such, they have common points of comparison (taste, texture, nutrition, etc.) that you can go back and forth with. But you can’t compare apples to shopping malls or oranges to television sets. So, Newsweek, which is greater, Darwin or the first Star Wars movie? Lincoln or Bach’s Brandenburg concerto?