It’s All Relative

Since last week more evidence has come to light (if that’s the right word in this particular instance) to support Einstein’s Theory of Relativity – still a ‘theory’ by the way, not a ‘Law’ – just like Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Not to say that either of these are ‘wrong’ – it’s just that neither have passed all the tests demanded by academic rigour.

There are still ‘missing links’ in the chain of logic.

But that’s not what this is about.

We judge things in relation to one another.

We make decisions based on the relationship of one idea to another.

A jury will look at the evidence presented by each side of the case and base their verdict on their perception of the credibility of each.

In other words, they’ll compare the ‘for’ and the ‘against’, the ‘pro’s’ and the ‘con’s’, the ‘guilty’ and the ‘not guilty’.

Without contrast, if only one side of the case were presented, no decision would be possible.

A verdict might be reached but if all the evidence was in favour of the defendant and none was presented by the prosecution, the case would fall and the defendant found ‘not guilty’.

But it wouldn’t have been a decision.

When we buy things – we all love to buy stuff – admit it!

When we buy things we like to compare alternatives and make a decision about what we end up buying.

This is in academic terms the third stage of the buying process – the evaluation of alternatives – and its generally true.

There are exceptions of course – every time Apple brings out a new product there are lots of people who will automatically buy it – whether they need it or not, whether they really want it or not.

They don’t really make a ‘decision’.

They by-pass the buying process – that’s the power of Apple’s marketing and the legacy of Steve Jobs.

But back to reality, where apples are just a fruit.

Most people, when we want to purchase something, first carry out a search for the product or service we’ve decided we want and we select two or three alternatives – just a few final candidates to choose from.

We may have course eliminated quite a few others on the way.

We consider our options.

Recently I bought a car, a second hand car as it happens, and I had an evaluation to make before I picked the one I decided to buy.

There were a number of parameters – cost, mileage, style, performance, and so on.

These may have an order of importance but it’s probably unwise to base decisions on a single parameter such as cost. You may not end up with the best ‘deal’

There was one car at the high end of my budget but in the style I was looking for, another at the low end but with a high mileage on the clock, and a third in the mid-range for cost but with a low mileage for its age.

Number 1 seemed a bit expensive compared with the others, number 2, although ‘cheaper’ was not such good value for money. I eventually chose number 3.

This car in my opinion was the best value.

But without being able to compare – or contrast – one against the other, I would not have been able to come to that decision.

When we decide we want to buy a specific product or service most people just look at the cost, particularly if it’s a ‘commodity’ or something that’s the ‘same’ whoever you buy it from.

Different suppliers usually headline with the cost: “Our’s is the cheapest” you hear them cry in their 30 second TV ads.

But without contrasting their offer with others, how do you know that – in the long term and considering the ‘terms and conditions’ – that it really is ‘the cheapest’. The headline price might be cheaper but the overall cost might be higher.

Without anything to contrast all the aspects of their offer against you won’t know whether it’s ‘cheap’ or ‘expensive’.

When buying it’s essential to look at all aspects of what’s on offer from different providers.

And the same applies to different offers from the same provider.

Because without that contrast you won’t be able to make a proper decision.

Or any decision at all!

Happy buying